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LIPO-suction: HENRY wallet-emptying machines

"Luxury in Price Only"
July 29, 2022

Sure, the Boomers are to blame for a lot of things. But we have Millennials to thank for ruining luxury.

The newest form of social engineering to empty our pockets are faux-luxury brands offering elevated experiences (aka $185 hoodies) and hype in exchange for sub-par products and services. The latest of these is Aime Leon Dore, Teddy Santis’ brainchild that blurs the lines between traditional and contemporary, streetwear and sophisticated.

I traveled to NYC this week to keynote the Mondelez Commerce 2030 global summit, a gathering of 160 leaders from across their brand portfolio. To kill time between the summit and my flight I caught the R train to Spring Street, and visited a few shops that I have been meaning to see IRL. After hearing my cofounder Brian gush over the Aime Leon Dore in-store experience, I went to see it with my own two lookin-balls; I was shocked… shocked… that I wound up spending a significant amount of money in the store.

An intoxicating experience, the ALD store extracts money from HENRY wallets like a child pries spare change from their parents’ hands to throw into a wishing fountain. Before I knew it I had spent $400. I know. It’s gross. I’m sorry. I subsequently lavished praise on the brand to my “iykyk” sneakerhead groups. I am now part of the cool kids club. I have first-party experience of what makes a brand so special that can never ever be replicated in digital. What is possible in the real world is just irreplicable online. Who buys an ashtray, a hoodie, and a ballcap in one eCom purchase? Nobody. But I did. Yep.

Here’s where it falls down. The very next day I received an email notifying me of a 40% off sale for the very items I just bought. The most basic tenets of being a digital merchant are lost on the New Luxury businesses. My support request politely asking for a refund of the difference in my purchase received an automated response: “we don’t monitor this inbox. submit a request over here.” in frustrating all-lower-case millennial smuggitude.

The request form impolitely informed me that I can expect a response in five to seven business days.

Maybe ALD are victims of their own success, a product of too-much-too-fast? Maybe omnichannel is too difficult for new brands with too many customers and too few experienced operators? Or maybe they’re luxury only in price. A veritable suction cup that extracts money from dumdums like me who get social capital from being in-the-know.

I’m calling this LIPOsuction: Luxury in Price Only. And that Sucks.

— Phillip

A Technological Artifact. The original prototype of Steve Job’s Apple-1 computer that started it all is up for auction at over $400,000. The 1976 circuit board was hand-soldered by co-founder, Steve Wozniak.

Retail in a Smaller Box. Best Buy is testing out a smaller digital-first store in North Carolina. The 5,000-sq.-ft. Store features primarily display versions of the company’s “best-in-category” products for customers to see and try, as well as the option to shop live with a virtual expert offsite.

Mikasa… or Su Casa? Bed, Bath, and Beyond worked hard to create its own private-label items as a strategy to revive itself. The plan had worked for lots of other retailers. But to make room for the private-label items, the company had to cut back on shelf space for other well-known brand-name items. And once their new products hit the shelf, customers showed little interest.

Big Dippers. July 31 is National Avocado Day, and to celebrate, Chipotle is gamifying their dips and giving away $200,000 in crypto to players, AKA dippers.

Absurdism: Sugar and Spice Edition. The “make it spicy to help sell it” craze has hit the cereal aisle — sort of. It’s actually being presented as more of a snack. General Mills is releasing CinnaFuego Toast Crunch with the added heat of hot peppers exclusively to Walmart in August. Try it, for what they state is an "absolutely absurd experience."

Ohhh Nessie. After discovering some fossils of a small plesiosaurus in a 100-million-year-old Moroccan river system, scientists at the University of Bath have reported that the existence of the Loch Ness monster may not the the stuff of complete conspiracy theory fiction. If only scientists could discover some plausibility for a time portal at the bottom of Loch Ness.

In other news, TIL that our co-founder Brian is secretly a monster conspiracy theorist.

Cover Photo: Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance Campaign

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