Listen: Look Away, Look Away by The Go! Team with Star Feminine Band
Oh my god I have never met lyrics I liked better. These are in French, sung by Benin’s Star Feminine Band, so I will translate:
“Focus on your work, friend, because work begets happiness. Doesn’t matter what your job is, stand by it. Work liberates humanity.”
Lol. According to Ian Parton, who founded the Go! Team and also commissioned the collaboration, that indisputable wisdom comes through “a manic, charging, all-out gang vocal that I wasn’t expecting,” but look at it working. Listen here.
Welcome to Amazon, where everything is interchangeable
While NYMag wasn’t busy dictating modern etiquette last week, they were figuring out how shopping on Amazon has managed to become an even shittier shopping experience over the last year or two.
Here’s the deal: you know when you go on needing like a spatula, right, and you scroll around looking for one whose parts won’t separate within a week. Do you play it safe with OXO or save a few bucks on something similar from a random brand? You try looking at star ratings and reviews, but everything has a solid 4.5 stars so what is even the point.
The point is that Amazon makes money helping all those products get roughly the same very-good star rating. They’re all paying for placement in the form of “seller services,” so it’s in Amazon’s interest to invite as many no-name brands onto the platform as possible to duke it out for your attention.
That of course makes it a shady and confusing place for shoppers, but who cares! Not Amazon, which is about to open up a sort of retail version of AWS where they power shipping and fulfillment for brands selling on their own sites. In a way, that solves the aforementioned problem, with the pesky side effect of allowing Amazon to further embed in and profit off of absolutely everything we do. Whelp.
Whereas on Tik Tok, all we have is dupes
I personally have been scrolling my soul away not on Amazon but on Facebook Marketplace, where I keep seeing listings for a “Cloud Couch Dupe.”
Having googled, I now know that the Cloud Couch is a big, culty, Restoration Hardware squishfest, and that it’s been duped, as the kids say, by Wayfair, AllModern, and Modani, which in turn has its own dupes.
Those dupes are just a few of many: whether you want a bodysuit from SKIMS or and Open Spaces shoe rack, there’s not only a knockoff for you but an army of Tik Tok influencers to tell you about it.
“The gold rush to find the next big copycat has become an increasingly profitable game for content creators,” writes Steffi Cao in Buzzfeed. An influencer can do just as well shilling for Modani as they can for Restoration Hardware.
So the dupes are driving the influencers and the influencers are driving the dupes and the money is as much in the hype machine as it is in the products themselves. Who has been duped, exactly?
The one and only
In one last matchup of merch against mystique, let’s talk for a minute about preppy clothes. Where did they come from and why are they still here, no matter what else is happening in consumerism?
Friend of the newsletter Avery Trufelman’s latest season of Articles of Interest surveys the full history of prep, or Ivy, as it’s rightfully called, and makes you reconsider American mythology as it schools you on fashion. As you’ll learn as each episode intricately unfolds, the defining American aesthetic, which we tend to read as a signifier of whiteness and privilege, actually developed as a dialog between a variety of cultures (we wouldn’t have it without Japan — or, in another way, jazz!). But please learn the rest from the show. American Ivy is effectively a history book for your ears, rich and remarkable and new. Only problem is you can’t highlight a podcast. Nerds.