For the best part of two decades Carl Cox has been syndicated to a number of radio stations around the world. He is hanging up his radio shoes and put together a mix covering some three decades of house music. Its a great two-hour long mix.
WaiGuoRen – Chinese meme going around
Chip Equipment Billings Hold Steady | EE Times – positive forward signalling for the technology sector economic outlook
At the end of January I wrote a blog post about the landmark collection by Louis Vuitton and Supreme.
I delved into the history of streetwear and the deep connection it shared with luxury brands. This linkage came from counterfeit products, brand and design language appropriation.
This all came from a place of individuality and self expression of the wearer.
I reposted it from my blog on to LinkedIn. I got a comment from a friend of mine which percolated some of the ideas I’d been thinking about. The comment crystalised some of my fears as a long-time streetwear aficionado.
This is from Andy Jephson who works as a director for consumer brand agency Exposure:
The roots of street and lux that you point to seem to be all about individuality and self expression and for me this is what many modern collabs are missing. To me they seem to be about ostentatious showmanship. I love a collaboration that sees partners sharing their expertise and craft to create something original. The current obsession with creating hype however is creating a badging culture that produces products that could have been made in one of the knock-off factories that you mention. Some collabs that just produce new colourways and hybrid styles can be amazing, reflecting the interests of their audience. But far too many seem gratuitous and are completely unobtainable for the brand fans on one side of the collaborative partnership.
The streetwear business is mad money
From Stüssy in 1980, streetwear has grown into a multi-billion dollar global industry. Streetwear sales are worth more than 75 billion dollars per year.
By comparison the UK government spent about 44.1 billion on defence in 2016. Streetwear sales are more than three times the estimated market value of Snap Inc. Snap Inc., is the owner of Snapchat.
It is still about one third the size of the luxury industry. Streetwear accounts for the majority of menswear stocked in luxury department stores. Harvey Nichols claimed that 63% of the their contemporary menswear was streetwear. Many luxury brands off-the-peg men’s items blur the boundary between luxe and streetwear.
The industry has spawned some technology start-ups acting as niche secondary markets including:
Large parts of the streetwear industry has become lazy and mercenary. You can see this in:
- The attention to detail and quality of product isn’t what it used to be. I have vintage Stüssy pieces that are very well-made. I can’t say the same of many newer streetwear brands
- Colour-ways just for the sake of it. I think Nike’s Jordan brand is a key offender. Because it has continually expands numbers of derivative designs and combinations. New Balance* have lost much of their mojo. Especially when you look at the product their Super Team 33 in Maine came up with over the years. The fish, fanzine or the element packs were both strong creative offerings. By comparison recent collections felt weak
- The trivial nature of some of the collaborations. This week Supreme sold branded Metro Cards for the New York subway
- Streetwear brands that sold out to fast moving consumer products. This diluted their own brand values. While working in Hong Kong, I did a Neighborhood Coke Zero collaboration. The idea which had some tie-in to local cycling culture and nightscape. Aape – the second-brand of BAPE did a deal wrapping Pepsi cans in the iconic camouflage
Hong Kong brand Chocoolate did three questionable collaborations over the past 18 months:
- Nissin (instant noodles)
- Dreyer’s (ice cream)
By comparison, Stüssy has a reputation in the industry for careful business management. The idea was to never become too big, too fast. The Sinatra family kept up quality and selective distribution seeing off Mossimo, FUBU and Triple Five Soul. Yes, they’ve done collaborations, but they were canny compared to newer brands:
“The business has grown in a crazy way the past couple of years,” says Sinatra. “We reluctantly did over $50 million last year.”
Reluctant because, according to Sinatra, the company is currently trying to cut back and stay small. “It was probably one of our biggest years ever — and it was an accident.”
Sinatra characterises Stüssy’s third act as having a “brand-first, revenue second” philosophy, in order to avoid becoming “this big monstrosity that doesn’t stand for anything.”
The Evolution of Streetwear. The newfound reality of Streetwear and its luxury-like management academic study uncovered careful brand custodianship.
It’s not clothing; it’s an asset class
Part of the bubble feel within the streetwear industry is due to customer behaviour. For many people, street wear is no longer a wardrobe staple. Instead it becomes an alternative investment instrument. Supreme items and tier zero Nike releases are resold for profit like a day trader on the stock market.
Many of the start-ups supported by the community play to this ‘day trader’ archetype. It is only a matter of time for the likes of Bonham’s and Sotherby’s get in on the act.
A key problem with the market is that trainers aren’t like a Swiss watch or a classic car. They become unusable in less than a decade as the soles degrade and adhesive breaks down.
There is the apocryphal story of a Wall Street stock broker getting out before the great stock market crash. The indicator to pull his money out was a taxi driver or a shoe shine boy giving stock tips.
Streetwear is at a similar stage with school-age teenagers dealing must-have items as a business. What would a reset look like in the streetwear industry? What would be the knock-on effect for the luxury sector?
USA Streetwear Market Research Report 2015 | WeConnectFashion
Louis Vuitton, Supreme and the tangled relationship between streetwear and luxury brands | renaissance chambara
New Balance Super Team 33 – Elements Collection | High Snobriety
New Balance ST33 – The Fanzine Collection | High Snobriety
1400 Super Team 33 (ST33) trio | New Balance blog – the infamous fish pack
How Stüssy Became a $50 Million Global Streetwear Brand Without Selling Out | BoF (Business of Fashion)
The Evolution of Streetwear. The newfound reality of Streetwear and its luxury-like management by de Macedo & Machado, Universidade Católica Portuguesa (2015) – PDF
* in the interest of full disclosure, New Balance is a former client.
Smart Waggle Boosts IoT | EE Times – interesting move towards a thicker client on IoT for cloud
Ask uncomfortable questions: UBS and boundary-pushing content marketing | Campaign – odd partnership with Vice Media
Apple Severed Ties with Server Supplier After Security Concern — The Information – I imagine that this is what being a target of the NSA’s tailored access programme would look like. There are a number of other state actors with similar capabilities. SuperMicro is interesting because it assembles servers outside China – instead it has factories in San Jose, The Netherlands and Taiwan
Uber’s work environment sounds even worse than we thought – Business Insider – who said beer bong bro?
How Trump’s Bullying of Mexico Could Backfire | The New Republic – could Mexico follow the Asian model of economic development?
Developers | Uber – interesting stuff on augmenting a passengers journey as marketing opportunity via the API
NVIDIA’s GTX 1080: The Tip Of The Iceberg? – OneRiver Media Blog – Apple need to sort their Pro range out
Japan’s wild, creative Harajuku street style is dead. Long live Uniqlo | Quartz – think Camden market before the energy got sucked out of it
Closer look: Assassination Report Has China Talking About Ageism – Caixin Global – interesting commentary on Huawei
The $143bn flop: How Warren Buffett and 3G lost Unilever | FT – Back in London on Saturday, as [Unilever CEO] Mr Polman tapped into his network of contacts, he was informed that Finsbury was working with Kraft Heinz on PR. Within seconds, Mr Polman blasted off an email to Sir Martin Sorrell, the founder and chief executive of WPP, the advertising company that counts Unilever as one of its most important clients.
Finsbury, which is majority owned by WPP, was removed from the Kraft Heinz side by the end of the day. – guessing Kraft Heinz isn’t worth that much for WPP, also think that you can take Colgate Palmolive off the table as well since they are a big WPP customer
Hurun: China’s Super-Rich Name Apple, Bulgari As Top Brands for Gifting | Jing Daily – interesting rise of Alipay rather than UnionPay
Snap’s IPO Draws Barclays CEO, But London Investors Remain Wary – Bloomberg – slowing user growth an issue
Oppo knocks: Beating Apple, Xiaomi and the gang in China | The Economist – BBK the parent of Oppo and Vivo was a successful feature phone maker with good channels and manufacturing smarts – Huawei should be afraid
Wanda’s Dick Clark deal shaky, but not yet dead: sources | Reuters – restrictions on currency movement
What Does Trump Want? China Scours Twitter, Cocktail Parties for Clues – Bloomberg – they may decide just to wait Trump out
Let’s not kid ourselves: sexual harassment is rampant in Silicon Valley | The Outline – bro culture and brewskis by nerds
Ask a Korean!: Presidential Election and Spy Agency – Interesting article on fake news in Korea
Don’t Look Now, but the Great Unbundling Has Spun Into Reverse – NYTimes.com – bundling started to be used by online business for the same reasons as offline
My Friend Cayla doll banned in Germany over surveillance concerns – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) – So are pretty much most other connected systems such as Google Now, Siri and Alexa powered devices – just not quite as hackable
I was laid low for a few days this week, during this time I slept and connected with the world only by listening to the Today programme. I also got caught in a deluge during storm Doris and was drenched. As I write this post, my Facebook feed is filling up with posts about Donald Trump restricting media outlets including CNN and the BBC from Whitehouse briefings. These are five of the things that made my week:
I was upgraded Bose QC25 headphones I use at work with a new audio cable. The Ablet Lightning Audio Adapter for Iphone 7 / 7 Plus is a great replacement cable, microphone and remote that makes doing calls an awful lot easier. Once the call is over, I just unplug and jack in with the original cable that stays in my iPod
Instagram announced a carousel function that shows up to 10 photos and videos in the one frame. The first one I saw in the wild was to promote the new Blade Runner film due this year
Kelly Moss Motorsport built a ‘safari ready’ Porsche 911 that evoked the old Rothmans Porsche rally cars of the 1980s, check out their series of pictures here.
The grey colour reminds me of post-war vintage tractors from the likes of Nuffield. Porsche made some beautiful looking tractors in the 1950s – a useless fact that I picked up as a child spending much of my time on the family farm in Ireland and having a Dad who used to repair heavy agricultural and construction plant early on in his career
Collecting Europe – really interesting game that investigates consumers attitudes to boundaries and identity
Global Restructuring at TBWAMedia Arts Lab as Apple Shifts Toward Digital, Regional Work | Ad Week – interesting move with their evolving relationship with Apple. I can’t say that I feel impressed by anything l’ve seen out of Apple in a while – given more creative was driven out of in-house. This move will see things going more digital, rather than just digital expressions of TV-orientated creative
Exclusive: SoftBank willing to cede control of Sprint to entice T-Mobile – sources | Reuters – guess India’s no longer as big a focus since Nikesh Arora’s big bets lost them 350 million dollars?
UK Snoopers’ Charter gagging order drafted for London Internet Exchange directors • The Register – you combine this with the new espionage act going through the UK government system and things look exceptionally dark
Building Global Community | Facebook – Zuck on reshaping Facebook’s direction
I picked up Blood and Faith on a trip to Madrid. I have a habit of picking up English language history books if I can when visiting a place. It gives you a sense of how a country wants itself to be seen. These usually vary from clumsy propaganda to insightful works.
Coming across Carr’s book surprised me as it addressed a part of Spain’s history in an unsympathetic light. It covers briefly the expulsion of Spain’s Jewish community and covers the expulsion of the Moors in greater depth.
Carr’s background as a journalist and as the son of a controversial English teacher who got involved in post-colonial politics casts a certain lens for his writing perspective. His knowledge of Spain and Islam is second to none having covered both the Islamic world and Spain extensively in books and journalism.
Carr paints a complex picture of tolerance and a cosmopolitan society interspersed with zealotry, bigotry and criminality. The book shows how the decision to expel the Moors came about, a mix of:
- Security concerns in terms of internal strive and alleged support of pirate raiding parties from North Africa and Turkey
- Changes in Spanish royalty as the Hapsburg’s came to the throne. Their German background brought a ‘neoconservative’ viewpoint on Islam due the threat that the Ottoman empire posed to central Europe
- Internal politics within the Catholic church with hawks and doves
- External relations with the Holy See and other Catholic countries who viewed Spain as being tainted
- Internal injustice that caused Moor dissent which in turn fuelled the paranoia of the Spanish
The book and its subject matter feels surprisingly contemporary. 17th century Spain still provides us with a good picture of the challenges and chaos that ensues trying to deport people en masse. From discovery to logistics it was a nightmare.
The issues of conservative populism and racism also feel very contemporary given political sentiment across Europe. The expulsion of the Moors and reconquest of Spain have been cited by both Al Qaeda and Daesh to justify their actions.
If you want a book to read on Spain’s relationship with the Moors this is a well researched book, just be careful with what conclusions you chose to draw from it.
IBM, Visa partner to make the Internet of things commerce friendly | ZDNet – just goes to show that Watson is a mascot not a product from a branding perspective
What a Veteran Film Critic Learned from Watching VR Movies – This reminded me a lot of Myst
I can’t believe that its this time again. It’s been a busy week, partly because I lost a work day due to a larger Publicis Groupe meeting. This quote from Alvin Toffler stuck with me
This video by the Singularity Institute was floating around about the future of industry
Fans of Assassins Creed would appreciate this rendition of Leave her Johnny, leave her
The British Museum have a lovely trailer for their new exhibition The American Dream
Michael Kopelman’s Gimme 5 have done a collection influenced by 1970s band Santana
Facebook’s autoplay videos will now play with the sound on – Recode – expect audio branding to make a resurgence
Nokia 3, Nokia 5 and a “modern” Nokia 3310 will be unveiled at MWC 2017 – Gizchina.com – the modern Nokia 3310 probably the most anticipated phone launch since the iPhone
ICSR Report – Media Jihad: The Islamic State’s Doctrine for Information Warfare / ICSR – how ISIS is looking to move from a real to a virtual organisation as it suffers real world defeats
General Motors Is in Talks to Sell Opel – WSJ – General Motors Co. has entered talks to sell its European business Opel to Peugeot as the U.S. auto giant seeks to shed money-losing operations abroad – I imagine that China and the US will be its main focus. Surprised Ford hasn’t taken a similar move
Banks Eyeing Dublin After Brexit Face Trader Shortage – Bloomberg – all this will change of course as things kick off
IBM have done some iconic advertising since the late 1990s. Sun became the dot behind dot com; but was out-marketed by IBM’s ownership of e-business.
For some early clients like Boxman – there were accusations that IBM was learning about the internet whilst it did the work. And for many many of the products it was little more than putting HTML lipstick on a mature technology pig.
In 2008, that seems to have changed to smarter planet as IBM looked to get involved in infrastructure from building management to traffic control.
In 2011, IBM’s Research division saw the culmination of a seven year project that had one of their supercomputers perform on TV game show Jeopardy! Marketing really started to change in 2014 in a dramatically different direction. IBM started describing a mix of machine learning and big data analysis technologies as Watson – they have their own Watson business unit. The implication being that the company had a corporate mascot. Think Tony the Tiger meets The Terminator.
The Watson you might have been sold may use similar technology principles but there isn’t a single sentient AI doing your tax returns in one milli-second and pharmaceutical research the next. Yet having talked to friends who work in a number of sectors and that’s precisely how they perceived Watson.
Facebook agrees to independent metrics audit following pressure – AdNews – guess the pressure from FMCG businesses demanding proper data and trying to stamp out ad fraud is working
Are luxury brands taking their eye off Gen X? | Luxury Daily – lets be honest about it, its a market that marketers haven’t bothered addressing due to the size compared to the book end generations
Into the gray zone – George Washington University – interesting white paper on hacking back. Not the smartest thing to do but interesting (PDF)
The Mighty Middle Market – Edelman – the US’ mittelstadt
Below Deck — The California Sunday Magazine – this kind of work was the prototype for the Ubers of this world
POSIX has become outdated by Atlidakis, Andrus, Geambasu, Mitropoulos & Nieh (Columbia University) – this seems arcane but will impact every part of information technology from mainframes and web infrastructure to Macs and smartphones (both iPhone and Android)
Much of my social channels are filled with outrage and discussion about what is perceived as unreasonable behaviour.
On one hand we had filter bubbles that allowed audiences to stay isolated, apparently only seeing the content which broadly fitted their world view. For the metropolitan elite, its a steady diet of virtue signalling. For the right it is the Illuminati / New World Order view of an aloof elite.
On the other hand we have voices that break through and are generally viewed as abhorrent by those in my social sphere. The archetype of the breakthrough voice would be Milo Yiannopoulos. Yiannopoulos is a complex character who has gone from post modern poet who borrowed from pop music and television without attribution, to technology journalist and a libertarian who has become a figurehead of the alt-right. Along the way his wardrobe has changed from a preppy sloan look to a supporting character from the original version of Miami Vice.
Yiannopoulos is very adept at provoking a response from his opponents that rallies his supporters since they think it is evidence of the backlash from an omnipotent elite.
Those on the right would point to figures like Kerry-Anne Mendoza, the editor in chief of The Canary – who has been accused of sensationalist or irresponsible journalism.
The underlying element is that everyone cannot agree on what the problem actually is. Silicon Valley is lining up to filter out the worst excesses of the right; partly because engineer political views and advertiser views are largely aligned.
Generally engineers are degree educated so tend to be libertarian and socially liberal. They will support diversity and often work in multi-national teams. They are acutely aware of the power that their technology has which is why privacy tends to be most politicised amongst the tech-literate. Whilst large corporates would like to do what made the most commercial sense, there is a tension in Silicon Valley between this desire and the ability to hold on to engineers to do the work.
At the other end of the spectrum right wingers are trying to crowd fund a lawsuit against Twitter for for discrimination against conservatives and violations of antitrust regulation. WeSearchr – the crowd-fund platform equate Twitter making a call is equated to discrimination in the American South during the 1960s.
Ken White, attorney at Brown White & Osborn LLP and blogger on First Amendment issues, disagrees.
“WeSearchr’s claims of censorship and discrimination are frivolous,” he told me in an email. “Twitter may be ‘censoring’ in a colloquial way, but it’s a private platform and not governed by the First Amendment. It’s free to kick people off for speech it doesn’t like unless doing so runs afoul of a particular federal or state statute, and WeSearchr hasn’t cited a plausible relevant one.”
“Antitrust law is very complicated and it’s pointless to speculate about what WeSearchr thinks it means by citing it,” he said. “But antitrust law doesn’t say ‘it’s illegal to be a big company that dominates a field.’ Generally it restricts anti-competitive practices, and WeSearchr has never credibly identified any.”
Secondly there is research done by Demos to suggest that those of use with more liberal values have a looser social bubble and are likely to be more aware of inflammatory commentary by those with more populist views.
People with more polarized political affiliations tend to be more inward-facing than people with more moderate political affiliations. In short, the echo chamber effect is more pronounced the further a group is from the centre.
Conversely, those who hold more extreme views will feel emboldened as part of an enclosed community of like mined people.
What should be done?
Demos suggests that the mainstream news as a point at which the different opinions are most likely to meet. However, the very subjective viewpoint of different mainstream news outlets imply that this isn’t likely to happen.
The technology companies have made it clear that they will try and curb the worst excesses of the populist faction online. My sense is that it will fuel their sense of persecution and provide a point to rally around.
Should anything be done?
WSJ City – Sinking Feeling: Shipping Is Latest European Banking Worry – Hanjin shipping slowly unwinding banking sector as shipping loans become sub prime in a tight market
Massive LED screen for Sogo Department Store – Inside Retail – this looks epic
Brexit vote has ‘chilling’ effect on start-up investment – BBC News – actually this might be the fintech bubble deflating and it isn’t likely to lose politicians any votes. Given the love Teresa May had for David Cameron the death of Silicon Roundabout wouldn’t get any complaints from the current government – it might even be a winner as elites suffer
Finnish airline Finnair adds Alipay for inflight shopping | SCMP – really interesting move as Alipay moves beyond the luxury concessions of department stores to other parts of western retail catering to Chinese consumers. I would be very surprised if the Chinese revenue officials aren’t analysing this data very carefully.