James Surowiecki at The New Yorker on the twilight of brands. "Twelve months ago, Lululemon Athletica was one of the hottest brands in the world," Surowiecki explains. "But then customers started complaining about pilling fabrics, bleeding dyes, and, most memorably, yoga pants so thin that they effectively became transparent when you bent over. Lululemon’s founder made things worse by suggesting that some women were too fat to wear the company’s clothes. And that was the end of Lululemon’s charmed existence: the founder stepped down from his management role, and, a few weeks ago, the company said that it had seen sales 'decelerate meaningfully,'" Surowiecki writes. "Brands have never been more fragile," he argues. "The reason is simple: consumers are supremely well informed and far more likely to investigate the real value of products than to rely on logos." The Atlantic's Derek Thompson tweets this line: "The rise of brands was a response to an information-poor environment."
Robin Givhan at The Cut on do-gooder fashion. Maiyet, the luxury fashion brand launched in 2011, "was the brainchild of Paul van Zyl, a South African human-rights lawyer who frequented the World Economic Forum at Davos ... but who did not know a peplum from a pannier," Givhan, a longtime fashion critic, explains. "He wanted to save the world. And had decided he would do it through fashion," she writes. And so Maiyet would become a "womenswear line that would bring impoverished communities into luxury fashion’s lucrative food chain. The company would build partnerships with producers of hand-woven silks, lush embroidery, and batik in Kenya, Peru, India, and elsewhere and work with a New York-based design team to incorporate them into high-end creations: a $1,750 small leather satchel, a $1,495 beaded silk sheath, a $2,400 lambskin vest," Givhan notes. Amazingly, the collection was well-received by fashion's elite, including Barneys. And the artisans in developing countries set the prices for the goods they provide, making the process ethical.