Logomania: The Champion of Fashion

The New York Times: “Late last year, the high-fashion radical pranksters of Vetements released what would become one of the brand’s signature pieces: a misshapen hoodie with a logo on the chest that played off the traditional Champion script logo, rotating the oversize C 90 degrees to make a V … Ava Nirui, a writer, artist and part of a loose group of bootleg-influenced design provocateurs who use corporate identities as raw material, thought the price, around $700, was outrageous …And so she decided to poke fun at Vetements by seeing its borrowing, and raising it — or more to the point, interrogating it.”

“One at a time, she took actual Champion sweatshirts and incorporated the elongated-C logo into the names of other designers — Rick Owens, Chanel, Gucci, Marc Jacobs — by embroidering the names around the C in utilitarian font. She made them for herself, snapping pictures and posting them to her Instagram account with a shrug emoticon as the caption.”

“Vetements’s cheeky appropriation and Ms. Nirui’s meta-cheeky reappropriation represent two phases of what has become a mini-resurgence of interest among tastemakers, from high fashion to streetwear … This burst of renewed interest has extended to the brand’s history. The sneaker reseller Flight Club in New York currently has a floor-to-ceiling grid of dozens of 1980s and ’90s American-made Champion sweatshirts, which have been selling briskly. ‘The Champion sweatshirt is such a regal piece,’ said Josh Matthews, the director of merchandising at Flight Club and a longtime collector of the brand.


Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii: Kentucky Fried Christmas

“Over the last four decades, KFC has managed to make fried chicken synonymous with Christmas in the country. An estimated 3.6 million Japanese families eat KFC during the Christmas season, reported the BBC. Millions of people weather long lines to order fried chicken weeks in advance to carry on the tradition. Here’s a look back at how KFC became a Christmas tradition in Japan via Business Insider:



That’s the Spirit: From ‘Holly’ to ‘Hangovers’

Quartz: “Just 20 years ago, some of the most common words associated with Christmas were wonderful, glow, entertaining, colorful, games, and holly. In 2015, those words fell off the list and were replaced by words like sales, trading, spend, special, and retailers.(Oh, and also bash, party, knees-up, and, yes, hangover.) … But before we throw the baby Jesus out with the bathwater, it’s worth noting that fretting about the state of Christmas is as much a Christmas tradition as picking out a tree or singing carols.”

“In the 1840s, Horace Greeley, founder of the New-York Tribune, used the newspaper pages to rail against Christmas consumerism … In 1890, an article in Ladies Home Journal worried that ‘the Christmas of our youth is degenerating into a festival of the store-keepers’ … A 1929 opinion piece reproduced in British newspapers wondered if the use of the ‘Xmas’ shorthand removed Christ from Christmas ‘substituting the negative of materialism’.”

“The increase in media of all kinds promoting Christmas sales and deals could account for the shift in today’s language; so could concerns about spending habits and saving. As for the spike in words about partying and getting hungover, this might not indicate newly unchecked revelry but simply increased comfort discussing something that has long accompanied the holidays.” In 1971,Dr. Timothy F. Lull, professor of pastoral theology at Yale Divinity School, wrote: “Many things are wrong with Christmas. But the greatest of all may be that so many people thrive on pointing out what is wrong with Christmas.”


St. Wulfram’s: The Land of Hops and Glory

The Wall Street Journal: “It was the last Saturday in November and Stuart Cradduck, the rector of St. Wulfram’s Church in this Midlands town, was serving behind an improvised bar in the church, dressed in a black cassock and clerical collar. With events like the ‘Land of Hops and Glory’ beer festival, Mr. Cradduck and other Anglican modernizers are trying to make their churches hubs of increasingly secular communities … While many congregants love the new spirit of fun, some traditionalists question what they see as the incursion of the profane upon the sacred.”

“The bustle and mirth of the bar area could have been mistaken for that of a tavern, were it not for the grandeur of the stone Gothic arches, blue-painted sanctuary ceiling and intricately carved wood on all sides. Some people stood with their heads lowered solemnly in pamphlets, like the devout at Sunday service. Rather than hymn sheets, however, they were poring over the 50-plus beverages on the craft beer list.” … Mr. Cradduck explains: “I believe the church is about—and Christianity is about—inclusivity and welcoming people. This building is over 1,000 years old. The bricks are soaked in prayer but actually, they’re also soaked in people’s joy and sadness and in the community. This was always a place that was the center of the community.”

“Mr. Cradduck pointed to the long tradition of beer brewing and imbibing among holy Christian orders and said he didn’t select the beverages himself …. Many of the beers were existing products from craft breweries around England sourced by enthusiasts from the Campaign for Real Ale, who helped put on the festival. A couple were made to order, including Father Stuart ale, named for the rector … Dark ales included Black Mass … and Black Jesus. Sinners could ask for Absolution … or even Salvation.”


Holiday Seasonings: Egg Nog is Cool Again

The Wall Street Journal: “Pumpkin sprawls its way through supermarkets from September to November, appearing in foods from English muffins to yogurt. But many consumers reach pumpkin saturation by Thanksgiving. Food companies are trying to extend shoppers’ enthusiasm for a limited-time seasonal flavor into December to eggnog … Eggnog is appearing as a limited-edition flavor in other foods and beverages from Turkey Hill Egg Nog Ice Cream to an Eggnog Stout beer by Spring House Brewing Co … Starbucks sells an Eggnog Latte starting in November, while Peet’s Coffee’s Eggnog Latte pulls in customers during the holidays who are less likely to be regular coffee drinkers.”

“Eggnog may be a full-fat beverage, but that is less of a turnoff now that full-fat yogurt and milk are back in fashion among health-conscious shoppers … Its quirky, retro vibe is particularly appealing to consumers in their 20s and 30s.” Food consultant Amy Shipley comments: “There’s a whole rediscovering eggnog is cool again. People love something that they indulge in for just a few weeks.”

“Jelly Belly Candy Co. reintroduced its eggnog jelly bean flavor two years ago. Sales of the flavor are up 20% this year, says John Pola, vice president of specialty sales. ‘It has become the identifiable seasonal flavor,’ he says. While pumpkin jelly bean sales still outpace eggnog jelly beans, Mr. Pola sees that shifting. The company’s Christmas business is five times Halloween and Thanksgiving put together, he says.”


Short List: Less is More in Processed Foods

The Wall Street Journal: “A yearslong effort by General Mills to remove synthetic food dyes from cereal seems to have turned around that business, with retail sales of its reformulated cereals up 3% in the U.S. in the last reported quarter. But now a persistent decline in yogurt sales has General Mills scrambling … General Mills is adding more organic yogurt and introducing new products like yogurt drinks and snacks that don’t come in the traditional yogurt cup.”

At ConAgra: “Reddi-wip is advertising its use of ‘real cream’ rather than hydrogenated oils, and ‘no artificial growth hormone.’ Hunt’s is promoting how it peels its tomatoes with steam, rather than chemicals. ConAgra’s website for Hebrew National hot dogs brags that they have no artificial flavors, no fillers and no byproducts because ‘the shorter the ingredients list, the better’.”


Snapchat: The Cause is Not Celebre

The New York Times: “Snapchat wants to provide a more authentic experience, one that does not depend on whether a celebrity is on its service, and one that is not cluttered by adlike endorsements from influencers. The more someone’s real life shows up on its service, Snapchat figures, the more intimate and personal it feels. And marketers may be more attracted to this authenticity, spurring them to buy ads from Snapchat rather than pay celebrities and influencers to do product placements.”

“Snapchat says it prefers that celebrities use the app like everyday users, rather than as a platform to sell products. The company’s terms of service prohibit getting paid to post, making influencer marketing a no-no. The company, based in Venice, Calif., said it does not want to harm Snapchat’s image as a place where people go to interact with their friends … remaining relatively marketing-free will help the company differentiate itself.”

“The ads are typically designed to mirror the look and the feel of videos and photos that users already see on the messaging service. By keeping that quality control, Snapchat is able to charge a lot for its ads: $350,000 to $600,000 for a daylong national geofilter — a branded image that people can overlay on their photos — and up to $700,000 for so-called lenses that can transform a user’s selfie.”


Quote of the Day: Emmanuel Faber

“Ultimately, we have to keep in mind that what will make the resilience of this business, the resilience of our brands, is this notion of social justice. We have to be fair in the way we deal.” ~ Emmanuel Faber, CEO, Danone, in a Wall Street Journal interview.


Outlaw Country: Little Steven & Handmade Radio

The Wall Street Journal: “Outlaw Country is just one of 175 channels on SiriusXM’s menu of niche programming, but it’s one which exemplifies why the service has a chance of surviving increasingly savage competition for radio audiences. As it battles Spotify, Pandora, iTunes and still-dominant terrestrial AM/FM bands, Outlaw and other SiriusXM channels are testing how people will want to consume music in the future.”

“Outlaw, with ‘hand-curated playlists’ from show hosts, is different … Outlaw harks back to the free-form, personality-driven world of FM radio in the late ‘60s. DJs including Paula Nelson (Willie’s daughter), Shooter Jennings (Waylon’s son) … Americana stalwarts Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale host their own show, as does Steve Earle … Outlaw’s unusual format came from an unexpected place. Rocker Steven Van Zandt.” His vision: “A place where you could hear all the great artists who weren’t getting airplay on country radio anymore. And where you could hear the coolest stuff from the country side of the rock world and the rock ’n’ roll side of country.”

Program director Jeremy Tepper comments: “We’ve had a freedom at satellite radio that terrestrial radio just doesn’t share. We’re not beholden to ratings, sponsors or [outside music] consultants. Nobody tells us what records to play. And our [DJs] are completely free to express themselves.”


Primark & The Art of Bargain Shopping

The Wall Street Journal: “Shopping at Primark stores, stylish Brits know, requires strategy and skill. As many retailers struggle, the destination for trendy $5 sweaters and colorful $3 T-shirts is planning to expand in the U.S. beyond the handful of stores it currently has in the Northeast. The store doesn’t sell online, but operates in nine countries outside its home in the U.K. and Ireland. Its six U.S. stores include one at the original site of Filene’s Basement in Boston.”

“To visit Primark is to navigate throngs of people. They hunt through crammed racks for jeans that look almost like a pair spotted on the runway but at a fraction of the price, with the fear that they may disappear into another shopper’s arms in minutes … Primark stores are large, and product moves quickly. The largest store, in Manchester (UK), occupies 155,000-square feet over three floors.”

“On a recent tour around London’s flagship Primark store on Oxford Street, David Latham, commercial director of Primark, said products are generally organized into three categories. First, there are ‘basics,’ such as plain T-shirts and undergarments that might go for around £2. Then, there are ‘essential’ items like denim roughly in the £8 range. Finally, there are fashion items, which likely have higher price points and more in-demand looks. He recommended mixing and matching across these three categories. Savvy locals, said Mr. Lathan, come into the store ‘three to four times a week’.”