With any big money liquidity event like a multi-billion dollar acquisition, innumerable pundits and consumers gather round cheering, jeering, questioning, and predicting. Accordingly, VF Corporation’s acquisition of Supreme was par for the course.
“Is it going to lose its luster?”
“How can it scale and maintain its caché?”
“Will the new corporate bosses rain down on current management?”
“How will the synergies increase profit margins?”
“What’s the China opportunity?”
And on and on and on….and on…around questions no one really knows the answers to, but which make for good cooler, Zoom, and IG comments fodder.
And analyst calls.
Inspired by a Hypebeast article on the deal, I listened to VF’s acquisition announcement and was struck by Chairman Steve Rendle’s response to an analyst question regarding Supreme being a ‘luxury-esque’-priced…
Business news and fashion press readers know that 2020 has been, by and large, a disaster for apparel retailers. Without question, COVID-19’s human and economic toll has been a significant factor, but truth be told, the industry’s “cruisin’ for a bruisin’” was years, if not decades in the making. Between the twin stars (or more aptly, ‘comets’) of ecommerce and social media, competition intensified amidst stalwart and newer ‘part-wholesale’ brands and their ostensible “partners”, multi-brand apparel retailers and platforms. …
In memory of my friend Jay Frank
Heckler [yelling]: “Judas!”
Bob Dylan: [to Heckler] “I don’t believe you…you’re a liar!…
[to his band, off mic] Play fucking loud.”
Dylan’s interaction with audience member angered by Dylan’s ‘abandonment’ of acoustic folk for electric instrumentation, at a Manchester, England concert
May 17, 1966
Working as a marketer, I often wonder why some fashion and lifestyle brands remain relevant and grow while others either go in and out of ‘fashion’, fade from prominence…or go kaput. There are no easy answers, and there have been numerous renowned explanatory frameworks for great companies in general — the Seven Characteristics of “Good to Great” and Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle” — but none I’m familiar with satisfactorily explain why brands like Louis Vuitton and Levi’s have remained in the public consciousness, albeit with high points, hiccups and dips, for over a century while other brands have a period of often outsized success, then flame out in less than a decade or so. …
On July 22nd, the New York Times published an article “Save Brooks Brothers!” by Lisa Birnbach, editor and co-author of The Official Preppy Handbook, bemoaning Brooks Brothers’ decline. The good news is her wish has appeared to come true pending court approval: Simon Properties and Authentic Brands have agreed to purchase the brand for $325 million. The question I’ve been pondering is why Brooks Brothers and other larger scale prep-associated brands have felt so dusty while several newer, prep-influenced brands feel fresh and are connecting with the next generation of consumers: NOAH, Rowing Blazers, Kule, J. Mueser, Magill, HIP, amongst others a concentric circle or two beyond who tilt ‘trad’ (e.g., Sid/Ann Mashburn). …
I wrote the piece below almost five years ago, after a New Yorker article on Peter Thiel had appeared, which referenced the writings and philosophy of Leo Strauss. Though Strauss had passed well before my time at University of Chicago, I studied with a few of his students and admirers, including Allan Bloom, Nathan Tarcov and Clifford Orwin. This certainly doesn’t qualify me as an expert of “Straussian” philosophy, but at the time (2011), I thought I’d capture what I remembered of Bloom, his writings as well as a relatively small subset of Strauss’ published work. …
Brief Note: I wrote this back in November 2011, several years before Rollins’ passed away at the age of 100 in June of this year (2015). Though reading it now, I see certain things I’d like to edit, I’ve resisted, especially given its peculiar prescience regarding the parting of ways of Lady Gaga and Troy Carter, her manager.
I was fortunate enough to intern for Jack Rollins, Woody Allen’s manager, in the summer of 1989 between my freshman and sophomore years of college. I was told that I was the first and last intern for the management company, which, looking back, was not a compliment. Having determined that I wanted to work in the entertainment business, I had written a letter to him, and his assistant had responded (via mailed letter) that Woody’s secretary vacationed in Greece every August, so they could use the additional support. …
Apple Music Review: The Bohos take on the Robos
I just wanna go back, baby.
Back to the way it was.
D’ Angelo, “Back to the Future” (Black Messiah, 2014)
I have been using Apple Music for several weeks, and wanted to share some initial thoughts on its differentiation, functionality and usability. Though a nascent, as yet imperfect product, Apple Music’s new take on classic radio, Beats 1, via mostly live programming and celebrity-curation, makes it a significant competitor in music streaming, well worth listening to, if it can quickly fix its user experience of the streaming service.
First things first: Apple Music and Spotify share similar catalogs and many common features. For both services, users can search or browse for artists, albums, tracks and playlists. At launch, Apple has sub-optimal user paths, quirks and bugs, of which I’m sure it’s aware, and which Spotify has ironed out. Nevertheless, there’s a non-trivial degree of commoditization here, especially given price parity for premium individual subscribers. (Rather than offer a free, ad-supported version of the service to drive user adoption like Spotify, Apple has opted for a clever, free radio station, but more on this later). In Apple’s case, the playlists seem to be curated solely by Apple Music experts compared with Spotify’s innumerable user playlists, brand playlists (e.g., Pitchfork, Guardian, Blue Note Records, etc.) and company music expert playlists. The Swedish company’s latest moves are, in essence, big data-driven playlists, which are more intriguing as a concept than good listening. …