AltLuxe

Posts from the “Consuming Pleasures” Category

Care about sustainability? Get serious about your brand.

Posted on January 23, 2018

“Brand” is one of those words – a little like “luxury”– that feels the very antithesis of “sustainability”. For many, it bespeaks glossy magazine ads, splashy parties, and a general glitz that feels gross, vulgar. And in many ways it is, as it pumps up demand for things we don’t want. But ironically, for all the importance of using sustainable materials and processes, the single most important act of sustainability is to not create more waste to begin with. In our society, waste implies that there is no market demand for a given item and that while it may have inherent value, it doesn’t have economic value. And things that lack economic value are waste. SO the imperative is to create value. One of…

3 syllables. And a cure for what ails Big Retail.

Posted on January 23, 2017

Scha.Den.Freude. OK, that wasn’t actually my first feeling when I heard that The Limited would be shutting its stores effective immediately. Rather, my first feeling was that of nostalgia, maybe even sadness. After all, like so many women my age, my first job was at The Limited, and the source of so many key life skills I use to this day. The invaluable life skill of selling and servicing, how to deal with low lifes, a little bit about design and styling, and of course, how to steam clothes without burning yourself. But then, the schadenfreude kicked in. Good riddance, I thought, to The Limited and all those chains (Macy’s, Ann Taylor, Gap. Abercrombie, American Eagle Outfitters, BCBG, Wet Seal, Bebe, Hot Topic, and more weekly) with their same uninspired approach to…

In praise of specificity

Posted on January 12, 2016

When I was in Japan a few years ago, I went to a place called Tokyu Hands. It blew me away: floor after floor of stuff, so much of it incredibly specific. A container to hold sliced tomatoes so they wouldn’t sit in their own juice. Teapot brushes. 15 different types of scissors for ikebana. A knife specially designed for cutting chestnuts. An those were just the things whose use I could fathom. I found it fascinating but perplexing: even if some of the products were clearly genius (I loathe soggy tomatoes) why oh why would you want all this stuff in a country where houses were so minuscule?  Would you even use it? Wasn’t it all a bit silly? Was it just another example of Japanese…

The thing about things

Posted on September 7, 2015

At long last, I’m weighing in on the unlikely book that blew the minds of publishers everywhere: a book from a little known (in the West, at least) Japanese home organization consultant. I’m of course talking about Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. But I’m not that surprised. Because the book taps into a very deep craving for the values she’s espousing. The values of pleasure and joy and ruthlessness and clarity. The book is not just another self-help book (though there are some embarrassingly awesome ideas on how to organize your underwear drawer): it’s a philosophy for living and even consuming. For those who’ve been otherwise occupied, the book is nominally about de-cluttering. But it’s not it’s not the usual one about…

End of empire stuff

Posted on August 2, 2015

Despite the fact that the world is full of strife on one end and bad taste on the other,  I’m not one to let these things get me too terribly down. But there was one thing that really got me depressed and truth be told, disgusted. Entitled “Instagram: Retail’s Holy Grail” (behind the FT paywall) the piece reported that  “millennial females’ anxieties about appearing too many times in the same outfit in their internet photographs is driving fundamental changes in the way they shop.” Selfie culture is driving Millennialistas to buy cheaper, more often. Says Jamie Merman, an analyst for Sanford Bernstein, “Faster is absolutely better because part of the selfie phenomenon is that women want changing trends, and current trends, quicker.” So wrong. Vile, in fact. They sell or…

Shhh.

Posted on February 23, 2015

Secrets. They’re not supposed to exist, are they? We’re supposed to tell it all, share it all, let it all hang out, preferably online. Mental health types talk about the corrosive effects of secrets.  We barely tolerate the notion that some state secrets should remain that way.  And TMZ’s created a $100 million empire on spilling celebrity secrets that readers lap up then lean back to savor, purse their lips, feeling smug that no secret should be safe from the public. As goes the broader culture goes the material, consuming world. “Authenticism” is the thing where every live edge table or industrial makes clear its material roots. Function is form and form is function (and nothing else.) Radical transparency is the by-word of companies like Everlane. And we’ve come to…

Consuming pleasures: the S word

Posted on May 17, 2014

  Sale. Funny word, that. For some people, that word is like catnip. When that email plops into that mailbox, eyes light up, plans are made, research is done. (Flights may even be booked.) Then, in the store, or online, there’s a frenzy: hunt, buy, hunt, buy. And who doesn’t want to pay less for something? I am pleased to say that I have bagged a few great bargains in my life…those gold mesh Manolo Blahniks I’d bought for $50 and sprayed black (worn with pleasure for years now) or the better knife set at 50% off. Or the super low fare to London where I had that life changing Christmas holiday. Yes, of course. But a few years ago, as I did my annual wardrobe cull, I realized…