• After normcore, there is gorpcore. The "defiantly ugly" trend of wearing similarly basic clothing, but pulled from outdoors retailers like REI and Patagonia. The article cites a sentiment similar to the motivations of normcore: an escape from the myriad complexity of choice, a distancing from designer, and a general comfort derived from both the garments themselves and the soft embrace of conformity. As more of our social activity and outward facing image is constructed, maintained and remixed in digital space, maybe it's just not worth the cognitive and financial costs to fine-tune an IRL aesthetic as well. Maybe it's simply a U.S. flavored version of Airspace for fashion - the minimalist, modernist style that has pervaded the globe as a sort of designer-object Soylent, filling a need but without much life or pleasure in the process. On the other end of the spectrum are the brands working to manufacture desire through manufacturing scarcity itself, with Lululemon creating a retail space for goods that are not available online, and Supreme articles that run in limited editions, gobbled up by bots. In the face of brands trying so hard to get you to care enough collect their wares at a premium, buying some fleece off the rack and getting on with your life seems like a pretty sound idea.
  • A really good piece on wearable technology from a more complete, cultural perspective. As the article says, what is really new about "wearables" is their digital capacity for sensing, analysis and signaling, not the overall category itself - the how and where of boundaries between technology/artifact and body/identity has been with us from our earliest human history. We think part of why the 21st century idea of wearable technology has performed poorly is that it has been too much about fragmenting smartphone-style tech to limbs, and less about understanding the deeply personal aspects of bodily identity and how technology may connect to that. 


Big Business: 

  • IKEA is the latest corporate giant to create a start up program. Hopefully they have studied the similarly ambitious but now-dissolved programs of Coca-ColaTargetTurner, & others. With the grim odds of startups scaling at all, and the fact that those that do have often undergone serious pivots in the problems they are trying to solve for, means that there's poor alignment in the incentives for tiny teams and multi-national corporations. In general, we have found that large companies do best by startups when they play the role of strategic investor, rather than incubator/accelerator. As an investor-only, startups have the latitude to pursue their goals on whatever meandering path in necessary for success, and large companies get the chance to snatch up potentially disruptive competitors at preferential prices. 


Machines for Moving: 


Up in the Air: 

  • Snap Inc. has acquired a small drone startup, awhile after previous talks with now-defunct dronemaker, Lily Robotics fell through. We can't wait for the "how millennials are ruining drones" pieces that will surely follow any Snap-related drone product (assuming there ever is one).


More next week.