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The Mac and Cheese Sweats

Stouffers but make it fashion
November 20, 2020

Do you run on Dunkin’? Have you ever wanted to “frost yourself” head-to-toe? Say no more, fam, because loungemerch is here for you. Dunkin’ released branded merch this week, setting Twitter ablaze. Will people buy it? Does it matter? The fact that it can exist speaks volumes about the current environment, our verge-of-quarantine-number-two loungewear aesthetic, and the macro trends of gaudy maximalism and Dadaist-irony.  It’s been said “you have a brand when you can sell merch” — well, then, Dunkin Donuts has a braaaand.

Stouffer’s has joined the chat.

The Nestle-owned brand Stouffer’s, not to be left out of the conversation, recently released screen-printed merch as well. Rather than an emblazoned logo, they chose a gonzo texture shot of their creamy microwave mac, destined to be stretched across your derriere. If you’ve gained the COVID-19(lbs) like the rest of us, the golden mac is screen-printed quarantine camouflage for the extra weight you’re carrying into this winter hibernation.

In Insiders #045, we discussed the absurdist movement, which comes during a reaction to the perfect and the pristine. “Zillennials”, Millennial-Gen-Z cuspers, were the first of the conspicuous consumers flaunting Crocs and Stouffer’s sweats because they’re fugly—a sort of “F.U.” to Instagram perfection. They love Dunkin because it ain’t Starbucks. Stouffer’s is hoping to ride the nostalgic wave if only for the ironic thumb-stopping reaction. 

This is all fun and games until someone gets hurt. The problem with this conspicuous consumption is that it is destined for the trash. It’s good for a laugh, sure, but this logo laden clothing accounts for monumental amounts of waste

With limited recycling options to recover reusable fibres, almost 60% of all clothing produced is disposed of within a year of production (ending in landfill or incineration). To put that into context, that is one rubbish truck per second to landfill. 

- “The price of fast fashion” Nature, January 2018

If the donuts and cheezy mac don’t clog your arteries, branded merch are probably clogging up our atmosphere with CO2. While Gen Z are the most climate conscious generation alive, they’re also young and impulsive with platforms such as TikTok that generate millions of impressions. What’s good for Dunkin or Nestle, and content creators in the moment, may create a halo effect of disposable merch that have real, lasting impacts on the world.

Last night, 1.7M people queued up for Season 2 of Verzuz before the event had even started. The rap battle series featured an epic (socially-distant) showdown of Jeezy vs Gucci Mane. Interspersed was an address from Georgian Activist Stacey Abrams, imploring the audience to get involved and register for the upcoming Georgia runoff.

Virtual concerts have turned out hundreds of millions of views this year across a variety of platforms, notably starting at the beginning of the pandemic with Travis Scott in Fortnite. Lil Nas X hosted a series of virtual concerts last weekend on Roblox. The four shows garnered more than 33 million views.

Sweater weather. While Twitter is collectively losing its mind over Fleets, we’ve been eyeing the thought leader debate over the viability of a modern QVC for DTC - a streaming shopping hasn’t exactly “happened” yet here in the States. While big media brands are experimenting with in-context shopping on OTT platforms (listen to Evan Moore of NBCU talk about it here), it hasn’t exactly made its way into the mainstream. Which is a shame because it would have been a perfect fit for DTC preppy brand Rowing Blazers to be able to sell its black sheep sweater via Netflix during The Crown’s Season 4 debut. Oh well, you can still buy plenty of Diana-themed merch from Jack Carlson’s brand with many of these royal items for sale.

We promise this section isn’t dedicated to candles, but it’s collab season, and this one was too perfect. Canceled Plans, the candle brand that perfectly encapsulates 2020, have partnered with CBD sparkling water brand Recess in a themed candle. The candle sold out same-day, and is part of a larger collection of merch.

Special event: “Watch Malls Die on Cyber Monday 2020”

Join the Future Commerce community for a special Cyber Monday event, December 30th at 1pm EST/11am PST! We’re going to group watch the 2020 docufilm Jasper Mall, which reviews the death of a local mall in Jasper, Alabama, and the real people that work in, and depend on, the mall in their local community.

Great for ambient watching while you contribute to physical retail’s death, and manage the greatest online shopping day in the history of eCommerce.

Register for the event here

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