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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 7 minutes

From Supreme to Gucci: How North Face uses big-name collaborations to drive ‘brand heat’ – GlossyTim Hamilton, North Face’s head of global creative, said it typically does two collaborations per year, at most. In addition to its upcoming collab with Gucci, North Face has an ongoing collab with Supreme that started in 2015. And it released collabs with athletic brand Brain Dead and MM6, the sportswear line of Maison Margiela, in August.  Hamilton said the brand’s collaborations typically require a lead time of 1-2 years and are almost always manufactured and produced by North Face. The MM6 collab, for example, began with discussions between Hamilton and the Margiela design team in 2019. – This lead-up time probably explains the balance in their collabs between hype and steadier brands. Hence no Virgil Abioh or Yeezy deal with North Face. Abioh has flirted with Canadian technical brand Arcteryx; which is owned by Chinese sports and outdoor clothing conglomerate Anta – who have a lot of cash. It is interesting that nothing has come from Abioh’s visual love letter so far.

Op-Ed | New Balance Collabs Are Second to None This YearNew Balance places an emphasis on “aligning with brands that are authentic in their space and have substance behind their message.” New Balance’s roster of collaborators represent a wide range of aesthetics, communities, and subcultures, meaning the brand can speak to a variety of consumers based on what product has been matched with which collaborator. In a sense, putting together a New Balance sneaker collaboration is like a game of exquisite corpse. “We’re able to keep product executions and stories fresh while creating different followings for each type of partnership,” – you could argue that adidas and Nike’s deals with Yeezy and Off-White relegate adidas and Nike to little more than original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). But New Balance also doesn’t have the deep pockets to go up against adidas and Nike head-on. That lack of deep pockets also affects North Face as well. I am surprised that the North Face and New Balance haven’t collaborated, though part of the issue maybe New Balance’s Danner Boots business. This competes somewhat with North Face’s boots business, but they have a very different aesthetic appealing to a different audience. North Face is owned by VF Corporation with sister brands Dickies, Timberland and JanSport. This means that brand collabs for North Face are probably complex politically.

A millennials love affair: China’s second-hand luxury goods market booms | Reuters – yes Chinese like new things like new apartments. Yes but: Chinese luxury consumers have become more sophisticated. Chinese consumers have travelled and seen the pre-owned market like Milan Station and BRAND OFF in Hong Kong and Japan respectively. In absolute terms middle class wages are lower in China still than the US; yet this isn’t reflected in luxury product pricing

Alibaba Takes Over China’s Top Hypermart Chain for $3.6 Billion – Bloomberg – interesting that Alibaba is working on an offline retail strategy

Robert Lighthizer Blew Up 60 Years of Trade Policy. Nobody Knows What Happens Next. — ProPublica – I am not normally interested in publishing about politics, but this article on US trade policy is an interesting starting point to think about the current debacle

Revisiting Lyn Collins’ “Think About It” – Micro-Chop – great essay. Its also good to see how the edits of Ultimate Breaks and Beats played a role in popularising the ‘think’ break

Hong Kong walks: discovering traditional, trendy Tai Hang | Financial Times – it makes me ‘home sick’ as Hong Kong island was my home for a while

Baaaa for business: Princess Diana’s iconic sheep sweater is back | Financial Times – its interesting that luxury brands are now raiding not just archives but childhood memories for cues. Also the convoluted customer journey outlined in the article for the original purchase via a bridesmaid’s mother

Debate over vegan ‘sausages’ and ‘burgers’ heats up ahead of EU vote | Financial Times – unsurprising given the size of the beef and pork industries in the European Union

WPP back on hunt for deals, says chief | Financial TimesRead’s challenge is to win back investors who think agency holding groups are struggling with multiple structural tests: cost-cutting and clients taking business in-house, competition from consultancies such as Accenture, and waning clout as middlemen in digital ad markets dominated by Google and Facebook. WPP’s share price is 65 per cent lower than its 2017 peak, and has fallen more than a third since the pandemic battered the economy. The three-year decline is a more severe than at rivals such as Omnicom and Publicis. Meanwhile, investors have flocked to the simpler growth story of adtech providers such as The Trade Desk, which this year has soared to almost three times WPP’s market value on a tiny fraction of its revenues. The £2bn market capitalisation of Sir Martin’s S4 Capital, a digital-only advertising group, is almost a quarter of WPP’s value even though it generated less than three per cent of its £12.4bn sales in the year to June 30.  – a number of things from this interview. The Trade Desk has a lot of heat around it, WPP attempted to do this with Xaxis but has got little credit. Read tried to spin that Accenture and WPP have sweet spots at different points in the economic cycle. Hence the comment about Accenture being good at cutting marketing costs.

Mr Read’s pitch is that WPP has combined its traditional creative strength with the tech expertise to build ecommerce platforms for clients such as Sainsbury’s, and become the single biggest integrator of Adobe’s software. “Our goal is to be to revenue growth what Accenture is to cost reduction,”

Chinese-Americans campaign for Trump on WeChat | Financial Timesit is becoming increasingly difficult to organise on WeChat, not only because of the looming US ban but also because of Chinese censorship. Simple WeChat filters for sensitive terms such as “democracy” can detect articles about US politics. Sometimes when Mr Ming sends articles to his groups, those with Chinese-registered phone numbers on their WeChat accounts cannot receive the links, no matter where they are in the world. Ms Wen, who used WeChat in 2016 to organise a door-knocking campaign for Mr Trump, was glad to shift away from the platform this year. “I know it is completely surveilled. Nowadays I mostly use Telegram,” she said, referring to the encrypted messaging app. – interesting move to Telegram, mirrors what I saw in my Hong Kong friend network after the Hong Kong National Security law was passed

Google’s new ‘hum to search’ feature can figure out the song that’s stuck in your head – The Verge – now this is clever

The future of fashion week? Look to Shanghai | Vogue BusinessShanghai Fashion Week, which pioneered digital pivots like live streaming, returns today as a largely physical event, featuring around 90 brands across a number of venues, including its main stage in fashionable shopping district Xintiandi and emerging designer platform Labelhood

How to steer clear of discounts this holiday season | Vogue Business“Markdowns have almost single-handedly ruined our industry,” says Hewitt. “They train the consumer not to buy in-season because they can come back in three months and get a discount. It’s a vicious cycle.” – during the 2008 recession Rolex reputedly bought back watches in its retail and wholesale channels. And then recycled them

Kibbles & Bytes #1122: Apple Releases Four iPhone 12 Models and the HomePod mini – Don Mayer nails the assessment of 5G in the latest edition of his newsletter.

Why a new generation of challenger brands need to rethink how to challenge | A Little West of Centre – Blands. That’s what Ben Schott, writing for Bloomberg, coined them. And what a coining it is. The new generation of humble, conscious, in-it-to-sell, underdog companies, sporting D2C models, consumer champion narratives, minimalist aesthetics, affordable luxury positionings and post-choice selling techniques (this is THE mattress, that is THE toothbrush).

Sony Launches SR Display: You Can See 3D Pictures Without Wearing 3D Glasses – Gizchina.com – really interesting technology

Indonesia’s central bank hints burglary in e-wallet playerconsumers should look at the track record of providers before using them to save large amounts of money. Indonesia’s total e-wallet transaction value size is expected to reach US$15 billion by 2020, according to a recent report by The Asian Banker

Problem Solved #13: A lesson in tackling bloody taboos from Bodyform | The Drumthe result was to present the viewer with flame-engulfed apartment of a perimenopausal women; a monster ripping at an endometriosis sufferer’s uterus; a ‘flood gate’ moment following an unexpected sneeze; a woman who has chosen not to have children; and the often-turbulent journey of trying to conceive

Diane von Furstenberg: Interview | Vanity FairThe iconic wrap dress, designed in 1974 and sold more than 15 million times since, made von Furstenberg an overnight sensation and began a dialogue with women that she has maintained ever since, in a large part through admirable philanthropic efforts, including the annual DVF awards. Now she’s taking that dialogue to the podcast, a medium she champions for its value in shifting the focus away from appearance.

British Airways Avoids Huge £180 Million Data Breach Fine for Hack That Compromised the Personal Details of Over 400,000 Customers – good for BA given airlines are haemorrhaging cash at the momen. I am worry about the message that this sends to large corporates and customer data

Shenzhen — Justin McGuirk – pretty much nails how I found Shenzhen over the decade that I visited regularly. More on Shenzhen related posts here.

Facial recognition data leaks are rampant in China as Covid-19 pushes wider use of the technology | South China Morning Post – interesting that this is being collected by non-state actors such as property management companies and schools as well as the state bodies

iPhone 12 launching without earbuds or wall chargers is compared to eating without chopsticks in China | South China Morning Post – I was expecting this as Chinese consumers are value orientated, brands focus on ‘client delight’ and there is a culture of free gifts with products. So taking items out of the box and the green explanation won’t wash

Beijing 1986: portraits of a forgotten China | Financial Times – amazing photos from 1986.

Shenzhen/Huawei: the other Bay Area | Financial TimesThe impression of military manoeuvres by alternative means was reinforced by Tencent, another Shenzhen resident. It was among big Chinese social and video platforms including iQiyi and Weibo, that simultaneously cancelled the livecast of Apple’s iPhone 12 launch – a small example of the nexus between the Chinese government, corporate decision-making influenced by the government and an undercurrent of Han nationalism

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Venture Capital and Cleantech: The Wrong Model for Clean Energy Innovation by Gaddy, Sivaram and O’Sullivan – venture capital investment is very inefficient according to this MIT paper. More venture capital related posts here.

Why business in Hong Kong should be worried | The Economist – Hong Kong is trapped like the grips of vice. Its economy is dominated by finance and rent-seeking businesses – Simon Cartledge for Gavekal Dragonomics, a consultancy, because these firms are over-represented in government, “Hong Kong’s single biggest disincentive to risk-taking and entrepreneurship—its high costs, especially for property—cannot be tackled.” That is why the back-to-business message is unlikely to resonate with ordinary Hong Kongers. This is probably why Hong Kong start-ups like DJI moved to Shenzhen to found their businesses. (Frank Wang did a lot of the key work on DJI drones whilst studying at HKUST. And even benefited from a small HKUST grant. But he moved across to Shenzhen to found the business itself in 2006.) Fintech has been a bit of a busted flush. It was the latest in a long line of business ideas like wine trading, the arts and medical tourism as failed niches for Hong Kong. Singapore seems to have been much more successful in business creation and seems to be seeing more venture capital interest. Current sectors in Hong Kong likely to be affected include the legal practices specialising in commercial arbitration. Without trustworthy commercial arbitration in Hong Kong doing business in China looks much less attractive. Singapore is trying to bridge the gap, but I suspect that there might be long term corrosion of Chinese business dealings. Digital companies and foreign banks face big worries. Between the Hong Kong Autonomy Act and the Hong Kong National Security Law – Helping America to enforce sanctions would violate the security law. Not doing so would incur American penalties

The untold story of Stripe, the secretive $20bn startup driving Apple, Amazon and Facebook | WIRED UK – what’s more interesting about Stripe is the brothers reading list

Remarks to the Economic Club of New York – United States Department of State – interesting speech by Mike Pompeo

What It’s Like to Escape the Mindset of a Conspiracy Theorist – Vice – fascinating psychology

Barr warns against corporate America’s China ‘appeasement’ | Financial Times“You should be alert to how you might be used, and how your efforts on behalf of a foreign company or government could implicate the Foreign Agents Registration Act,” he said, referencing a 1938 law that requires foreign agents to publicly identify themselves – those comments hit US banks, Apple and other US multinationals. Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks on China Policy at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum | OPA | Department of Justice – the US C-suite executives must be getting very worried about this

Quisling

The State of Strategy. A view from the Frontline | Noteworthy – The Journal Blog – great read and nails the issues affecting strategy and planning at the moment

Mark Ritson: In a virtual marketplace, only the strongest brands will survive – Companies see better profit margins and an almost unlimited customer base but miss the drastic reduction in barriers to entry. – so brand hyper-competition will ensue and the winner takes all model will extend beyond tech. Expect venture capital money to pour all kinds of weird industry niches as they try to pick category winners

WeChat users in the US say a potential ban of the app would cut them off from friends and family in China | South China Morning Post – Banning it might be a mistake. It would be more worthwhile using WeChat data to investigate Chinese in the US with ‘anti American’ sentiment as it’s easy to surveill in comparison to other platforms. WeChat sends messages in the clear with no encryption at all. You then start using the Espionage Act or the Patriot Act prosecutions

Chinese liquor group Kweichow Moutai tumbles after graft news report | Financial Times – Moutai sales are linked to gifting and lavish consumption and some have linked the share price increase with a corresponding uplift in sales and by implication graft. The damaging bit in the article is that Moutai’s former chairman Yuan Renguo quoted saying in private that sales linked to corruption are “a normal part of business” and that China’s corruption clampdown would not reach far enough to affect the company’s business

Banning junk food from TV an ‘irrelevant symbolic gesture’ that won’t reduce obesity | The Drum – the argument whilst true won’t be believed by regulators. Their rationale would be why would junk food companies advertise if it didn’t work? The distinction of this is junk food brand fighting out with similar brands in its category won’t wash. Secondly, advertising bans worked in the past on tobacco products over time

The party’s grip – Under a new national-security law, Hong Kong is already a changed city | The Economist – you have to wonder about the share run and will the pop of the bubble be blamed on ‘foreign interference’?

Outrage Over China’s Treatment of Hong Kong Galvanizes the West – WSJComplaints about China have piled up in Western capitals in recent years, but it took Beijing’s new curbs on Hong Kong’s autonomy to galvanize them around something approaching a common cause. – In many respects its like boiling a frog in reverse, it is likely that China didn’t expect the frog to jump out of the pot, given that the heat had been on so long

Opinion | A Coronavirus Care Package From China – The New York TimesAfter the Communist takeover in 1949, traditional Chinese medicine was institutionalized. Folk remedies helped fulfill both a tangible need — credentialed doctors were scarce — and an ideological end: That system of knowledge is quintessentially and uniquely Chinese.  Today, the Chinese government sees a political opportunity in the continuing emotional appeal of traditional medicine. If Chinese people can embrace an Eastern alternative to Western medicine, they might also be more likely to accept the Communist Party’s governance model and reject liberal democracy

Speaking in Tongues – Chinese Storytellers – such a great essay on the current challenge facing Chinese (and in particular Hong Kongers) writing for foreign audiences: a Chinese storyteller telling stories for an English-speaking audience in a divided world. As a writer who has called Hong Kong, Beijing and New Haven home, I find myself often in the position of what Zadie Smith once called “speaking in tongues”: equivocating between the lens of the insider and the outsider, examining the places I call home with both the “objective,” parachuted gaze of the foreign correspondent, and the emotionally implicated and invested eye of the local storyteller. Increasingly, that has felt impossible

Google considers alternatives to Hong Kong for undersea cable | Financial Times – Hong Kong has – become less critical for not only US cloud providers but also their Chinese rivals, according to Tao Wu, a senior research analyst for Gartner, a tech research firm. “Singapore has become much more important than Hong Kong from a location and population perspective,” Ms Wu said. “Other top cloud providers such as Alibaba Cloud are much more focused on south-east Asia to go global than expanding in Hong Kong.” – this will have a big impact for those property developers who’ve invested in data centres (internet hotels). Hong Kong’s financial position for international trading desks will also be diminished if international telecoms infrastructure starts to divert away from Hong Kong. From a pure connectivity point of view Korea, Singapore and even the Philippines start to look really good

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 6 minutes

EXP TV – not quite sure how to describe it, its just tremendous. In there words “EXP TV’s daytime programming is called “Video Breaks”—a video collage series featuring wild, rare, unpredictable, and ever-changing archival clips touching on every subject imaginable. Similar to how golden era MTV played music videos all day, daytime EXP TV streams non-stop, deep cut video clips filtered through our own distinct POV. Our Nite Owl programming block features specialty themed video mixes and deep dives on everything under the sun: Bigfoot, underground 80s culture, Italo disco, cults, Halloween hijinks, pre-revolutionary Iranian pop culture, midnight movies, ‘ye ye’ promo films, Soviet sci-fi, reggae rarities, psychedelic animation and local news calamities. On any given night you could watch something like our Incredibly Strange Metal show followed by a conceptual video essay like Pixel Power—our exploration of early CGI art. Aside from our unique tone and deep crate of video materials, one thing that really sets us apart in 2020 is our format. We are *not* on demand, we are *not* interactive—just like old TV! You can tune in anytime and something cool will be on. That’s EXP TV in a nutshell. It’s funny, it’s art, it’s music, it’s infotainment, it’s free and it’s 24/7.” It reminded me a lot of the pioneering night time TV programming that used to run on British TV.

Gen Z wants brands to be ‘fun,’ ‘authentic’ and ‘good,’ study says | Marketing DiveGen Zers prefer brands that are authentic, with 82% saying they trust a company more if it uses images of real customers in its advertising, while 72% said they’re more likely to buy from a company that contributes to social causes. Product quality, positive ratings and reviews and customer service are the top three characteristics that establish trust in a brand among Gen Zers – really? I am sure if you asked any cohort through time of the same age that would have come out as the result. More on ‘generations‘ here

Why Corporate America Gave Up on R&D – Marker – great conversation about basic research and its place in the economic life of a business

The Changing Structure of American Innovation: Some Cautionary Remarks for Economic Growth – basically US innovation is dying out as corporate basic research is no longer happening. It echoes the work that people like Judy Estrin has done in the past

Produce your own physical chips. For free. In the Open – FOSSi Foundation – interesting that Google is supporting open source silicon prototyping on 130nm process – not cutting edge but moving things forward massively for electronics designers

China ‘trying to influence elite figures in British politics’, dossier claims | Politics News | Sky News – not terribly surprising. I’d be surprising if Chna wasn’t trying these things. More fool the UK for allowing it to happen passively

Exclusive: Digital natives see PR as ‘press releases and gin-soaked lunches’ – Sorrell | PR Week – depending on the industry its probably pretty fair, though probably less gin than there was previously

What’s really behind “tech” versus “journalism” | Revue – really management vs employees – it seems to have got much more toxic than when I worked at Yahoo!

MullenLowe merges Profero and Open in UK – surprised that that this wasn’t on the cards sooner to be honest with you

Lessons from the fall of luxury e-tailer Leflair – Vietnam based luxury start-up goes under with $280,000 in unpaid goods

TikTok to pull out of Hong Kong – Axios – interesting how they got out ahead of Facebook, WhatsApp etc. TikTok might feel its mainland app Douyin can be swapped in. It is an interesting canary in the coal mine for Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp etc

Holographic Optics for Thin and Lightweight Virtual Reality – Facebook Research and Alphabet buys a rival company North who do similar technology Our focus on helpful devices: Google acquires North – more related posts here.

Interesting French short film about the future from 1947. In some ways it is a better predictor of technology usage than Star Trek some two decades later.

La Télévision, œil de demain (1947) – J.K Raymond Millet

‘What Big Tech does to discourse, and the forgotten tech tool that can make tech less big’ with Cory DoctorowIt is a conspiracy is to have an energetic mastery of wrong information. And sometimes that information in fact provides a good, not evidentiary basis, but a good fact pattern to support skepticism of a regulator – Cory Doctorow’s speech is long but well worthwhile.

Luckin Coffee investors oust founder | Financial Times – this looks very similar to WireGuard. The problem is that audited books can’t be trusted due to local law. And locally written analyst reports have to self-censor allowing this kind of thing to happen. China doesn’t seem to be moving to change its law in the same way that Germany is to try and protect shareholders

Facebook Suspending Review of Hong Kong Requests for User Data – WSJ – based on the Xi administration’s concerns about national security and cyber sovereignty; one can expect China to extend Great Firewall into Hong Kong with this. Which will then impact multinational companies who have traditionally used Hong Kong as an exit point for China operation VPNs. It will also affect Hong Kong’s position as a regional base. Firms would no longer want to use the data centres and backbone networks that Hong Kong has. More from the FT: Facebook and Twitter block Hong Kong authorities from accessing user data | Financial Times – WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Telegram have all given the Chinese Communist Party the finger. They have a strong incentive to. Chinese drop shipping businesses like Shein or Wish will suffer more than Facebook. And it plays well in parliaments and distracts from the other troubles that they may have. China gets burnt because of its information warfare games on these platforms. Facebook et al provide Chinese marketing teams a gateway into markets around the world that WeChat and TikTok don’t – which dings the Chinese government’s economic goals

‘Abolish Silicon Valley’ vs. ‘Always Day One’: Who’s Right About Fixing the Tech Industry? | OneZero – this conversation wouldn’t have even happened 10 years ago, but its needed. If not from ethics perspective, then from its failing in innovation as outlined many years ago by Judy Estrin.

Encryption-Busting EARN IT Act Advances in Senate | WIRED  – if you care about privacy, this is frankly terrifying

Above Avalon: Apple Is Pulling Away From the Competition – the obvious candidates missing here are Huawei, Xiaomi and the BBK firms (Oppo, Vivo etc) which have driven the smartphone market into the middle in China and opened a can of whoop ass on the premium sector overall

Philip K Dick’s Metz speech is mind blowing. It was done at an international science fiction festival in 1977, held in Metz, France.

Did China Steal Canada’s Edge in 5G From Nortel? – Bloomberg – short answer yes. Though it probably didn’t help that they had a management team that had failed to act when they were warned about infiltration, a infrastructure business reliance on the frame relay network market and partnered with Microsoft on a lot of enterprise technology. Some fantastic stuff in this article – Did a Chinese hack kill Canada’s greatest tech company? – BNN Bloombergin the late 1990s, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the country’s version of the CIA, became aware of “unusual traffic,” suggesting that hackers in China were stealing data and documents from Ottawa. “We went to Nortel in Ottawa, and we told the executives, ‘They’re sucking your intellectual property out,’ ” says Michel Juneau-Katsuya, who headed the agency’s Asia-Pacific unit at the time. “They didn’t do anything.” By 2004 the hackers had breached Nortel’s uppermost ranks. The person who sent the roughly 800 documents to China appeared to be none other than Frank Dunn, Nortel’s embattled chief executive officer. Four days before Dunn was fired — fallout from an accounting scandal on his watch that forced the company to restate its financial results — someone using his login had relayed the PowerPoints and other sensitive files to an IP address registered to Shanghai Faxian Corp. It appeared to be a front company with no known business dealings with Nortel. The thief wasn’t Dunn, of course. Hackers had stolen his password and those of six others from Nortel’s prized optical unit, in which the company had invested billions of dollars. Using a script called Il.browse, the intruders swept up entire categories from Nortel’s systems: Product Development, Research and Development, Design Documents & Minutes, and more. “They were taking the whole contents of a folder — it was like a vacuum cleaner approach,” says Brian Shields, who was then a senior adviser on systems security

Why China’s Race For AI Dominance Depends On Math | The National Interest – concerns about STEM education outside China

“Who Sells Bricks in Hong Kong” Hopes to Introduce New Actors | JayneStars – as dark as things are for Hong Kong’s film industry, ViuTV drama looks to Hong Kong film past for inspiration