Chanel invested $1.1 billion during a pandemic. Here’s where and why | Vogue Business – new client-facing tools like concierge shopping services and an app linking existing clients with fashion advisors, store upgrades, including the purchase of its New Bond Street store in London, a new fashion, watches and fine jewellery store in Beverly Hills planned for next year, a new Paris manufacturing hub for artisans called 19M, creative collections and an ongoing commitment to sustainability – Chanel has been making some smart moves, when most other brands; even luxury ones were hunkered down. Chanel is looking to come out of the blocks strong. The new manufacturing hub is going to drive innovation and creativity at Chanel for years. The new Chanel French manufacturing facility is a world away from Burberry and Balenciaga manufacturing in China. I think that the Chanel investment in real world retail indicates the continued importance of experience in luxury retailing. It is also interesting that Chanel wasn’t making moves into casual luxury a la Kenzo, Dior or Louis Vuitton. This Chanel development will be worth keeping an eye on.
George Packer: The Four Americas – The Atlantic – the sunny narrative of Free America shone on, its policies eroded the way of life of many of its adherents. The disappearance of secure employment and small businesses destroyed communities. The civic associations that Tocqueville identified as the antidote to individualism died with the jobs. When towns lost their Main Street drugstores and restaurants to Walgreens and Wendy’s in the mall out on the highway, they also lost their Rotary Club and newspaper—the local institutions of self-government. This hollowing-out exposed them to an epidemic of aloneness, physical and psychological. Isolation bred distrust in the old sources of authority—school, church, union, bank, media. – this is a really great read
Government, which did so little for ordinary Americans, was still the enemy, along with “governing elites.” But for the sinking working class, freedom lost whatever economic meaning it had once had. It was a matter of personal dignity, identity. Members of this class began to see trespassers everywhere and embraced the slogan of a defiant and armed loneliness: Get the fuck off my property. Take this mask and shove it. It was the threatening image of a coiled rattlesnake: “Don’t tread on me.”
Social class in America – Noahpinion – worthwhile reading alongside George Packer’s essay
Why “lying flat,” a niche Chinese millennial meme, alarms Beijing — Quartz – Chinese youngsters, or in general the working population, have experienced huge societal and political changes in the past nine years, [leading them to realize] that there is neither the possibility for initiating a revolution nor the freedom of expression. Under such a condition, lying down has become the only option,” Wu told Quartz.
Why I Have 75 DVDs and Blu-Rays on Top of My 5 Streaming Subs – As a Reddit user named Ben, who goes by Cinema Adherent and says he’s collected 5,000 discs, told me recently, “With services like Netflix you are always at the whim of whatever they could license for the cheapest this month. Good luck finding what you want to watch when you want to watch it.” – its the same with streaming services. I have a mix of discs and streaming subs too
I think that this is the interesting start of something: How Secondhand Clothes Sellers Are Driving Conversations Around China’s Recycling Economy
[Letter from Los Angeles] The Anxiety of Influencers, By Barrett Swanson | Harper’s Magazine – this reads more like something in a Cory Doctorow short story than real life. But its real life
Japanese comic riles China’s nationalists for giving revered Mao a zombie look｜Appledaily – The offending images were created in the third episode of Arakawa’s “Raiden-18” series. Mao, a former leader of the Communist Party, came across as a corpse that had a spell stuck to his forehead saying “where are the toilets,” comic illustrations circulating on the web showed. It appeared that Arakawa, who had visited China before, had created a satire to bemoan the lack of public toilets in the country. – this is brilliant
How Xi’s China came to resemble Tsarist Russia | Financial Times – the last ruling Communist party of a major country has morphed into a conservative reactionary party bent on preserving the power of state capitalist elites and advancing a distinctly 19th century form of ethno-nationalist imperialism – true, but this would sting in China
Kiwi wars: the golden fruit fuelling a feud between New Zealand and China | New Zealand | The Guardian – “It’s very naive,” says Gao. “You are relying on local authorities to protect your interests. And if they don’t, what do you do?” It is clear that the cultivation of Sungold in China is happening with the tacit permission of local governments, he says: “Such large-scale growing … it’s not individual.” Beijing may feel a degree of pressure to protect its global image, but state and local government officials are far less likely to be driven by China’s international obligations or reputation, he says. “Local government officials do not care,” he says. “. They don’t care about a free trade agreement between New Zealand and China. You have very little leverage to really get local authorities on your side, because they are not on your side. They are on the side of local growers.” – New Zealand’s China policy failure in a microcosm
Behind the scenes at China TV: soft power and state propaganda | Financial Times
Mediatel: Mediatel News: The week in media: only one winner from the GBNews ad boycott – the aggressive and bullying manner in which campaigners have urged brands to boycott GBNews is worrying. Such fanatical behaviour has become an unhealthy feature of social media – ever quicker to blame and punish, but ever slower to be considerate and patient.
While many brands quickly pulled their ads off GBNews in response to the boycott, one advertiser had the bravery and integrity to say no to these demands and explain why.
The Co-op – hardly a bastion of “hate” given its longstanding associations with community organisations, education and the Labour Party – already had a policy in place after consulting its members about its advertising approach.
It made a statement reminding us of its approach and its three principles:
- We will not seek to affect the editorial independence of publications or channels;
- We will not undermine the commercial value of our society for our members; and
- We will ensure our values and principles are clear and undiminished regardless of surrounding content.
How refreshing that a brand was able to show a) it has already been thinking about this issue for a while; b) it took full responsibility for placing the ad on GBNews; and c) it has a clear regard for the importance of news media and a diversity of opinions
Zhihu’s refreshing perspective on Gaokao & behind China’s cravings for vegan meat – Zhihu is a Q&A platform, not a million miles away from Quora in terms of depth and breadth of content. I am not sure how this Zhihu content will be seen by the party
China links pose a threat to academic freedom in Britain | Financial Times – UK universities don’t seem to feel any societal obligation to the UK beyond existing and carrying on growing. They have expanded campuses into China. They benefit form ‘brand UK’ but feel no obligation to it. Rather like multinational companies before them. Universities have no shareholders to be beholden to, unlike Apple or similar.
UK universities freed of societal ties have become rational creatures. Overseas students pay more money than British equivalents. There is an active incentive to not have British youth. Add in the fact that universities have a lot of real estate investments to support and you can understand why foreign students are much more desirable for these institutions from a financial point of view.
There is a wider question over why universities seem to have a luxury pricing model, with the cost of education climbing much faster than inflation – yet if you look at universities the whole non-tenured academics mess you have to ask where did the money go. This happening in both the US and UK. Finally, what’s going to happen when the UK has as poor a bench of university graduates and post graduates as it has had for the past few decades in vocational education?
More than a billion data items stolen in Alibaba leak｜Appledaily – more security related content here.
He Warned Apple About the Risks in China. Then They Became Reality. – The New York Times – At one point, the Chinese government asked for the computer code underpinning the security of iPhones, according to a former Apple executive familiar with the request. To comply, Apple would have had to create a so-called back door for the Chinese authorities to bypass an iPhone’s security, similar to what the Federal Bureau of Investigation had asked for in 2016 — and Apple rebuffed the request. In China, Apple also pushed back and persuaded the government that it didn’t need the data, according to the executive. – instead, all Apple China customer data in iCloud is on Chinese government company servers
CTL fined over faulty beneficiary disclosure: FSC – Taipei Times – what’s interesting about this story is the connection to Xiao Jianhua. Xiao was snatched and smuggled out of his apartment in the Four Seasons in Hong Kong back in 2017. Xiao hasn’t been seen since, but has been rumoured to be ‘helping‘ authorities unwind his business Tomorrow Holdings. Using one of his companies to do secret Chinese state work isn’t beyond the realm of possibility
Theses on Techno-Optimism | LibrarianShipwreck
THE CCP’S NEXT CENTURY Expanding economic control, digital governance and national security | MERICS – (PDF). What is apparent is that China’s communist party is betting on techno-optimism. Technology and innovation becomes distinctly political, which explains everything from Huawei to politicians deciding which mathematics lecturers get tenure in Chinese universities.
It will be interesting to see how Khan’s appointment will lead to lasting change amongst ‘big tech’ companies – the FANGs (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google), Apple and Microsoft – Tech antitrust pioneer Lina Khan will lead FTC, reports say – The Verge