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Giants have boiling problem on their hands as fans rip Evan Engram

A day of booing the Giants from the top of the organization on down turned vicious at Evan Engram’s expense.
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Suspect who shot NYC straphanger robbed bank 10 minutes earlier: cops
Cops now believe the same armed suspect, who shot a man on an N train, entered a TD Bank further downtown, on Canal Street near Lafayette Street, 10 minutes earlier.
Donald Trump won't do the 1 thing Republicans really wish he would
All Republicans want is for Donald Trump to stop living in the past.
Russell Wilson pens tribute to ‘perfect’ Ciara for 36th birthday
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Tom Brady: Fan who returned 600th TD ball made huge mistake
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The world has failed to keep its own climate promises, and the US is among G20 countries falling short
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Joint public events between Harris, Biden decline amid falling poll numbers
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Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll admits he 'probably wouldn't have' been at helm for so long without Russell Wilson
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll admitted after his side's disappointing 13-10 defeat to the New Orleans Saints on Monday night that he "probably wouldn't have" been with the team for so long if it wasn't for star quarterback Russell Wilson.
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll admits he 'probably wouldn't have' been at helm for so long without Russell Wilson
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll admitted after his side's disappointing 13-10 defeat to the New Orleans Saints on Monday night that he "probably wouldn't have" been with the team for so long if it wasn't for star quarterback Russell Wilson.
UBS Is Beating American Lenders on Their Own Turf
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Alan Cumming on his new memoir, "Baggage," and how Hollywood saved him
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Bicyclist in Alaska gets mauled by grizzly bear, fends animal off by kicking it
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Justice for the Dead
As relatives looked on, some sobbing, some applauding, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam granted posthumous pardons in August to the Martinsville Seven, young Black men electrocuted 70 years ago for the rape of a white woman. Northam took no position on their guilt or innocence; he merely cited ample evidence that the state had not accorded the men justice.“Race played an undeniable role during the identification, investigation, conviction, and the sentencing” of the men, Northam said. None had attorneys or parents present during his interrogation and several were unable to read the confessions they had signed. What is more, all 45 men who received capital sentences in Virginia rape cases from 1908 to 1951 were Black; not a single white rapist was condemned to death. In hindsight, the state appears to have reserved the death penalty in such cases exclusively for Black men.[Read: Racism and the execution chamber]“We all deserve a criminal-justice system that is fair, equal, and gets it right—no matter who you are or what you look like,” the governor said. “We have 402 years of history and a lot of wrongs that we need to right.”But what can pardons right when the recipients are dead and the wrongs are irreversible? America’s governors clearly believe that posthumous pardons have value, because they are issuing them at a rate never seen before, particularly in cases in which racial prejudice is thought to have subverted procedures, denied rights, or perverted verdicts. Fifty such pardons have been granted in just the past three years, among them former Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s 2019 posthumous pardon—his state’s first—of Grover Thompson, a Black man with a history of mental illness who was convicted 23 years earlier of stabbing a 72-year-old woman. DNA evidence and another man’s confession exonerated him after his death. In another first, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and the rest of state’s pardon board extended a posthumous pardon to Max Mason, a Black man convicted of rape in 1920 on flimsy evidence by a racist judicial system.These are symbolic acts, but that doesn’t make them meaningless. Two momentous events—the violent 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the 2020 murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer— galvanized the search for symbolic acts to repudiate historic, structural racism. Most of the attention has focused on pulling down Confederate statues and stripping public buildings of the names of slaveholders.Posthumous pardons are part of that same effort. Just as the debate over Confederate statues is less about those depicted by them than the values of the people who must walk past them every day, pardons are about the present and the future, not the past. They are most beneficial when they redeem the living, of course, and few would argue that current prisoners should not be ushered to the front of the line. But when applied to the dead, they can also be worthwhile when they heal, or when they send an affirmative message that the discredited values of the past are no longer the values of the present, nor should they be those of the future.[Read: The stubborn persistence of Confederate monuments]Posthumous pardons are rarities in American history. Nearly all have been granted at the state level. Although most governors have always had this power, they have issued only an estimated 175 such pardons in the nation’s entire history. Of that number, 85 percent have been awarded in the 21st century, and of those, nearly 40 percent have gone to minorities, almost all to Black Americans.When pardons, postmortem or otherwise, are extended, it is usually in one of several types of cases. The easiest are those in which a defendant is proved innocent. An example is that of the Army veteran Timothy Cole, a Black man convicted of rape in Texas in 1985. He died in prison 14 years into a 25-year sentence, after refusing to confess in exchange for parole. Both a DNA mismatch and a subsequent confession by the real rapist established Cole’s innocence. The governor pardoned him in 2009 and a court reversed his conviction.Sometimes pardons are warranted because social mores or the legal climate has changed. Bayard Rustin, a confidant of Martin Luther King Jr. and an organizer of the storied 1963 March on Washington, was convicted in California in 1953 of vagrancy and lewd conduct under laws routinely used to target LGBTQ people. He was jailed for 60 days and compelled to register as a sex offender. Nearly 70 years later, in 2020, heeding calls from state legislators, Governor Gavin Newsom extended Rustin a posthumous pardon.Pardons are also occasionally granted when an individual’s accomplishments are thought to compensate society in some way for the crimes committed against it. In 1990, for example, Arizona Governor Rose Mofford pardoned four deceased prisoners convicted of offenses including armed robbery and manslaughter who lost their lives while serving as “inmate labor” on a detail battling a major forest fire.And then there are the cases in which justice was denied. Although most people think of pardons as exonerations, they are, in fact, generally silent on the question of guilt. Proof of innocence has never been a requirement. If a convicted person can be shown to have been abused to elicit a confession or deprived of a fair trial, for example, a pardon is justifiable.The story of the Black ice-delivery man John Snowden, set in Annapolis, Maryland, during the Jim Crow era and chronicled in my most recent book, A Second Reckoning: Race, Injustice, and the Last Hanging in Annapolis, is a case in point. In 1918, Snowden was convicted of the murder of a pregnant white woman after questionable treatment by the police and the courts. He lost on appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review his case, and the governor at the time refused him clemency. He was hanged in what many in Annapolis—Black and white—considered a “legal lynching.”A reexamination decades later, prompted by local activists, raised troubling issues. Snowden testified that he had been threatened and physically abused by the police, but everything he said during his interrogation was admitted into evidence nonetheless. The legal gymnastics that the prosecution seems to have employed to ensure an all-white jury would be prohibited today. The judge did not permit the defense to impeach the credibility of the two principal witnesses for the prosecution, although they came forward only after a cash reward was offered. And the judge allowed prejudicial testimony about possible rape, even though Snowden was not charged with that crime.Eighty-three years later, in 2001, Maryland Governor Parris Glendening declined to pronounce Snowden innocent. But, in asserting that “the search for justice has no statute of limitations,” he pardoned him because he believed that Snowden’s hanging was a miscarriage of justice.[Jessica R. Pliley: A pardon arrives 105 years too late]Although the bulk of posthumous pardons are not controversial, governors do occasionally take heat for extending them. More than eight decades had passed since Snowden’s execution, but Glendening was nonetheless excoriated by the murdered woman’s great-niece. Insisting that a “pardon has an interpretation of innocence”—even though it technically does not—she said that absent new, exonerating evidence, the governor had no legitimate basis on which to grant the pardon, and that his action was “tainted with political motives.”When pardons are divisive, “politics” is often cited. In May, when Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued a sweeping, first-of-its-kind pardon of 34 Black men and boys who were lynched while in state custody, he came in for criticism. Willie Flowers, the head of the state’s NAACP, lambasted Hogan for “political posturing,” insisting that “celebrating himself by reminding people that lynchings happened is not the best thing you can do; it’s actually the least that he could do.”A letter writer to The Baltimore Sun also objected. He accused the governor of “using flowery language to make some people feel better about the past and themselves, while not solving one real problem facing Black Americans today.”And that just may get at the nub of the value, and the limitations, of posthumous pardons, especially the recent spate of them extended to Black Americans. They are not really about problem solving, nor are they a substitution for it; they are about remembering, and about acknowledging error. They do no demonstrable good to the dead, but are all about the living: principally relatives and friends of the deceased, but also their spiritual or political heirs, or simply those interested in or moved by their cases.How effective are these symbolic acts? Descendants and family members of pardon recipients certainly think they matter. Many have been quite vocal about how meaningful and inspirational they have found the revisiting of such cases. Pamela Hairston Chisholm, who worked for the pardon of the Martinsville Seven, told the press: This is a day that we will be able to go back to our family members, young and old, and tell them the story of injustice, but also to tell them that you will never give up the fight for justice. If we band together and work together and fight together, we can acquire the end that we seek, because the Martinsville Seven is just one story … of many that have occurred day in and day out. The day John Snowden’s pardon was finally secured was one of the happiest and proudest days in the life of his niece Hazel, who was born too late to have met her uncle but who believed in his innocence and worked tirelessly for his case’s reexamination. “I could feel his peace,” she told newspapers. And every year since that day in 2001, she has held a gathering in her uncle’s honor to which friends, relatives, and others who helped secure the pardon are invited to celebrate his life. It is a happy occasion, but one with its somber moments. Someone is asked to read the text of the pardon aloud, and someone else recites the soaring rhetoric of Snowden’s last statement, in which, reasserting his innocence, he declared, “I could not leave this world with a lie in my mouth.”What value do such pardons offer society at large? In 2013, Alabama State Senator Arthur Orr sponsored a state-law amendment to allow for posthumous pardons. Its passage enabled pardons of the Scottsboro Boys, nine Black Alabama teenagers accused of raping two white women in 1931 who were sentenced to death in rushed, unfair trials. He put it this way: “It’s an important step to show that the Alabama of the 21st century is a different place than it was 80-plus years ago.”Like downed statues, posthumous pardons do not change public policy. They do not repeal bad laws. They certainly do not have any discernible effect on their recipients. But they have the potential to do much more than simply make people feel a little better about the past. In fact, they may be most valuable precisely for what they promise. In repudiating miscarriages of justice, especially those with racial overtones, such pardons make a statement that what was done in the past was wrong, and they serve as markers that make it more difficult for such wrongs to be repeated. At their best, they have the potential to restore faith in a judicial system in which many people have lost confidence, and to further the work of building a more just, more tolerant, and more equitable society.
NFL Week 7 power rankings: Are the Bengals the best team in the AFC?
USA TODAY Sports' Mackenzie Salmon breaks down the latest NFL power rankings.
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Jamie Pickett worked past mental hurdle to get first UFC win
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One Good Thing: A book that treats the Real Housewives as an academic text
Five Housewives ‘OG’s — Vicki Gunvalson, Ramona Singer, NeNe Leakes, Kyle Richards, and Teresa Giudice — with Andy Cohen during a taping of Watch What Happens Live. | Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images Why be so nasty and so rude when you could read this book about The Real Housewives? When my friends and I get together to watch various installments of the Real Housewives franchises on Bravo, we analyze the women with a level of scrutiny and close reading that I most associate with a college English class. There’s so much to unpack, and so many layers to work with. Take the currently airing season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, for example, where the drama has mainly focused around the ongoing legal woes of Erika Girardi, a sixth-season Housewife who, up to this point, was mostly known as an astute glam-barbie with a passion for spending and a scary temper. This season, over the course of about a dozen episodes, Erika divorces her husband seemingly out of nowhere, and paints a picture of their marriage that is far different from rosy past descriptions. She contends with questions from the other Housewives as information comes out that her husband has allegedly stolen millions of dollars from the widows and orphans he represented as a lawyer. Her conspicuously glamorous lifestyle is potentially funded with said money, creating a meta tension between how much she knew and how she comes off. As such, Erika has given varyingly successful “performances” as the out-of-the-know wife, aggrieved party, and woman under investigation. My friends and I discuss and dissect it all. Erika’s behavior can be analyzed to try to glean her interior feelings, legal advice, and need to remain under contract and earn a paycheck. The other Housewives’ belief in Erika, concerns over their own reputations, and subtle attempts to predict which way the fans will go can be similarly scrutinized. I don’t think I could truly articulate the profundity and joy of the exercise of watching the Real Housewives until I read Brian Moylan’s The Housewives: The Real Story Behind the Real Housewives, a comprehensive volume that gives Bravo fans and the Bravo-curious juicy behind-the-scenes insight into some of the most explosive moments in the franchise’s history, an inside look at how these TV shows get made, and an impassioned defense of why we watch reality television. Moylan, a longtime Vulture recapper, released the book earlier this year. Throughout its chapters, he uses interviews from producers, publicists, and academics to delve into what makes the Housewives so inherently watchable, and to explain why being a fan should no longer be treated as a guilty pleasure. He poses a well-researched sociological defense of the Real Housewives franchise as an academic text that invites even reality TV skeptics to take an interest — and the book is full of recommendations for those who have never seen the shows. “You want to talk Method acting?” Moylan writes. “How about living your actual life on-screen, walking the tightrope between high drama and real emotional stakes, knowing that if you don’t do it right your days on camera are numbered?” Moylan approaches the franchise from every angle. If you’re a longtime Bravo fan, you’ll find fascinating bits of gossip, from the casting of the shows to which Housewives are pleasurable or difficult to work with. But even for non-fans, there’s plenty in the book to elucidate the psychology and mechanics of creating these shows. Moylan dives into the history of soap opera and reality television — the mother and father of the Housewives franchises, respectively — to explain how Bravo borrows from and expands their traditions. He traces an interesting path of the depiction of lowercase-h housewives on television, where the dissatisfaction of 1950s-era domesticity has been replaced by the hallmark hollowness that often chases these women through bad marriages, girlboss feminism, and conspicuous consumption. The book is strongest when it takes on the mantle of defending reality television as an enterprise, and for that reason, I’m recommending it to anyone interested not just in the genre but in so many of the themes that pop up in these shows: late-stage capitalism, class, and the nature of reality among them. Watching the Housewives involves judging the women for how well they are bridging the gap between how they would like to be perceived and how they actually come across, appraising their performances of likability, relatability, and comedy. The delusion is part of the appeal — New York’s Sonja Morgan, who still discusses her long-dead marriage to a banking tycoon as present and pretext, is, to me, a classic Edith Wharton character. The show chronicles Sonja’s fall from social grace over many bankruptcies and failed businesses, her long dating history on the Upper East Side, and her increasingly futile attachment to the symbols that once defined her life as a member of the Morgan family. It makes her a fascinating sociological study, but more than that — and Moylan never lets this point get too far away — it makes watching her antics, from her drunken lows to her fleeting moments of growth, much more fun than reading The House of Mirth. There’s so much that the Real Housewives franchise has in common with acclaimed prestige television shows. The women who populate its shows are never purely good or purely bad, and it’s the shades of gray that make them captivating. I can empathize with Atlanta’s Kenya Moore when she was unfairly blamed for instigating a physical fight between badly behaved Househusbands who skirted accountability, while still believing she intentionally provokes many of her cast mates. The ways the Housewives navigate class are reminiscent of any HBO drama about billionaires. The ones who live above their means, like Beverly Hills’ Dorit Kemsley, are so obviously and fascinatingly grifting their way into some form of societal recognition. Those who do have money, like Dorit’s cast mate Kyle Richards, cannot use it to escape the fundamental darkness of her family, which, despite desperate attempts to appear functional, seeps out in iconic moments like the season one fight in which Kyle outed her sister, fellow cast mate Kim, as dealing with alcoholism. Moylan suggests that these illusions populating Housewives’ ideas about money show viewers that class can be a fallacy, too. For me, the book crystallized all of its ideas at the end, where, in back-to-back chapters, Moylan presents an academic defense of the Housewives and offers up theories for why we watch. From a feminist perspective, the Housewives offer a depiction of middle-aged female friendship and relationships that you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. There are fascinating readings of the racial implications of Housewives, which Moylan gets into, such as adjudicating whether the franchise’s representation of Black women is positive or negative, whether that matters, and how Bravo polices violence on shows with Black casts versus white casts. “Instead of asking whether one scene or character is good or bad representation, viewers should be asking why these shows delight or disgust us,” he writes. Finally, Moylan interviews academics who place Housewives at the forefront of a new economic order, in which these women sell themselves — their relevance, their visibility, and their ability to be entertaining — as part of a broader creator and gig economy, in which their ability to get their contracts renewed hinges on how fresh their self-performance is. That very dichotomy creates the level of self-production that makes the shows so captivating and often feeds the drama, as was the case with Beverly Hills alum Lisa Vanderpump, who manipulated cast members and storylines to the point that her behind-the-scenes maneuvering became season nine’s central plot. The whole enterprise raises fascinating questions that Moylan can’t quite answer: Who owns the myriad of catchphrases, GIFs, and even the likenesses that make the shows so ubiquitous? The women who said or did them? The audience, who run meme accounts and Etsy shops promoting them? Or Bravo itself, which he points out keeps a tight grip on what aspects of their fame the Housewives are allowed to monetize. None of these questions, as central as they are to probing late-stage capitalism, are given the weight in society that Moylan allows in this book. Housewives are often watched and discussed with the same fervor as sports, but are looked down upon because they are primarily the purview of women and gay men. Moylan suggests that by considering viewership a guilty pleasure, we’re upholding the patriarchy that devalues women’s interests in the first place. I found that attitude empowering. These women are neither girlbosses nor villains. They are Real Housewives. It’s no less real to sell a performance of yourself than stocks or consulting or whatever it is that important men do, and it’s no less degrading to care. I know I’ll never find myself in the kinds of debates the Housewives have, from competing with my frenemy to produce a better booty workout video (Atlanta, season five) to arguing over how big of a slight it is to say your friend smells like a hospital (Salt Lake City, season one). But the Housewives provide a sociological and feminist lens through which to view the various insensitivities and dynamics that inevitably crop up in friend groups, the economy in which I work, and the various ways we perform our personalities for a chance at success — and they’re just really fun. So next time someone criticizes me for my fandom, Moylan taught me to use the most Housewife defense of all: You’re wrong, and actually, I’m better than you. The Housewives is available everywhere books are sold. For more recommendations from the world of culture, check out the One Good Thing archives.
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Kat Von D closing famous tattoo parlor
Kat Von D's move means the end of an era.
Kat Von D closing famous tattoo parlor
Kat Von D's move means the end of an era.
Kat Von D closing famous tattoo parlor
Kat Von D's move means the end of an era.
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The “ghost stores” of Instagram
It’s easier than ever to set up an online store. Customers are often paying extra money for goods sourced from marketplace sites like Amazon or AliExpress. | Getty Images That cute dress you bought off Instagram could be found on Shein, AliExpress, or Amazon for much cheaper. A few months ago, I came across a fashion brand on Instagram that purported to be a Los Angeles-based, woman-owned boutique. The tagline on its Instagram bio, “Alteration is innovation,” suggested that the brand championed clothing alteration and sold clothes that were upcycled or crafted out of old and discarded fabrics. The only red flag was the price of its clothes, which ranged from $60 to $150. These weren’t fast fashion prices, but they seemed suspiciously low for handcrafted garments. A quick reverse image search of the brand’s products confirmed my doubts. The Google results took me to another Instagram boutique as well as to AliExpress, a Chinese marketplace site, where the exact pieces (with the same promotional images) were sold for less than half of the stated price. I was stunned. The quirky styles and marketing had led me to think that the brand produced and designed its own clothes, rather than sourcing pre-made styles from overseas manufacturers. Instead, like the many, many other “ghost stores” floating around the Instagram abyss, it appeared to be just another cog — albeit a barely identifiable one — in the fast fashion machine. (The brand did not reply to requests for comment.) Instagram has spent years tweaking its interface, priming users to shop on the app. Its transformation into a shopping destination was swift, sudden, and hardly surprising. This paved the way for a specific type of online business, or “Insta boutique,” to thrive. These shops don’t always sell goods exclusively on Instagram; they rely on the app to draw customers to their websites, through influencer marketing or targeted ads. And while more people are turning to social media to find new products and brands, shoppers have also grown wary. People are realizing that certain brands aren’t exactly what they market themselves to be: independent, ethically-minded stores run by small business owners and designers. In some cases, shoppers are finding out that they paid at least double the price of a garment found on marketplace sites like YesStyle, Amazon, and AliExpress, or from the Chinese fast fashion retailer Shein. For example, a Business Insider reporter purchased two dresses for about $34 each from It’s Juliet, an Instagram boutique that claims to sell “ethically made” clothing, only to discover the exact same styles on AliExpress for $10 each. What’s concerning for customers is the origins of the merchandise in question. While some brands are clearly snapping up items from places like Amazon or Shein and reselling them for profit, others appear to be engaging in a practice where they don’t have merchandise on hand at all, called “drop shipping.” (Granted, not all stores on Instagram fall into this category. There are plenty of reputable, small artisans and business owners earning a living through the app.) These virtual storefronts are what I refer to as “ghost stores:” faceless, indistinguishable enterprises with few original products. These merchants rarely disclose the nuances of their business models. Even those that do vaguely impart some information to shoppers aren’t immune from consumer blowback either. That’s because the entrepreneurs behind these brands are savvy at constructing a digital facade. They’ve learned to gain customers’ trust through relentless social media marketing or by manufacturing a convincingly vague “brand story” that reveals minimal information about founders and workers. The draw of these “ghost stores” is predicated on somewhat ineffable factors. We buy from the brands we do because we connect with some element of the business, whether it be over superficial factors like unique clothing designs or something more identity-driven and moralistic, like sustainability. When we learn that a company isn’t much more than the story it’s telling — that it exists for purely profitable reasons — it can feel misleading. It is, of course, in every brand’s best interest to spin a narrative that attracts customers. One could argue that the entire retail industry is built on some level of deception. Customers, too, haven’t traditionally cared about where or how their stuff is made. After all, plenty of reputable retailers have a history of sourcing from the same factories and suppliers, while resorting to white labeling, or rebranding, their items to disguise this fact. Still, the illusion of difference and exclusiveness is comforting. It cements a sense of loyalty between the customer and the brand. Back when we did most of our shopping at brick-and-mortar stores, this pretension felt believable. Now, all it takes is a simple Google search for the facade to fall apart. Capitalism defined: All stores in U.S. do this; order wholesale clothing from over seas or have made in bulk for pennies & price it up 200-500% for resale. From IG Boutiques, to Macy’s. Small businesses aren’t scamming you, you’re just learning the inside of the retail industry.— Corrinn The Creative (@beautyboxstyle) August 26, 2021 To be clear, reselling and drop shipping are not illegal or inherently nefarious practices, although factors like product quality and authentication come into question. Drop shipping is actually a decades-old fulfillment model initially used by furniture and appliance sellers. Merchants list products for sale without having any of the inventory on hand. The merchant is in agreement with manufacturers to purchase the products at lower wholesale prices, which allows them to mark up the cost for profit. When an item is sold, the drop shipper coordinates with the supplier to send the goods directly to the customer. It’s often a process the merchant has no control over, and items can take weeks or months to arrive. Other ghost stores carry limited merchandise on hand and store it in a studio or warehouse. These virtual brands aren’t exactly drop shippers, since they have access to inventory. Still, they tend to buy wholesale from suppliers, like Shein or AliExpress, that work with drop shippers. The Instagram clothing store I encountered, for example, displays photos and videos of its Los Angeles studio and showroom, and occasionally features workers handling and shipping out garments. This is at odds with how its clothes are largely indistinguishable from that of EAM, an AliExpress store and supplier, and other Instagram boutiques. Reproducibility is a telltale sign that these brands source from the same suppliers, even while they feign authenticity and originality. The muddied similarities between various online stores, made possible by the rise of shoppable social media and mass production of goods, reveal the reality of these ventures. It lays bare what the writer Jenny O’Dell described as “the categorical deception at the heart of all branding and retail.” Consumers are starting to notice and question, for example, why they’re seeing the same pair of pants everywhere, just with a different brand label slapped on. The purchase starts to feel like a scam, even if it isn’t quite. Lisa Fevral, an artist from Canada who produces video essays on fashion and culture, has grown suspicious of a particular genre of small Instagram boutiques, selling trendy clothing styles and aggressively promoting targeted ads. In a recent video, Fevral referred to them as “doppelganger brands.” They have names like Cider, Kollyy, Omighty, Emmiol, and Juicici, and in her opinion appeared to sell clothes from the same Chinese suppliers. (Fevral was initially approached by a representative from Cider to promote the brand, but said she turned down the offer.) What worries Fevral, though, is the effort put into greenwashing their brands to deceive credulous customers. “These companies are clearly targeting young women, but it seems like they’re trying to adjust their language to appear more sustainable or ethical while not changing much about their practices,” Fevral told me. “There’s no way any company can keep up with TikTok styles and trends unless they are producing a lot of very cheap clothing.” Cider, which Business of Fashion has described as “the next Shein,” received $22 million of venture capital investment in June to expand its operations. On Cider’s “about us” page, it claims to be a “globally-minded, social-first” brand that reduces waste by operating under a preorder model and “only [produces] specific styles we know people want in a controlled amount.” Its CEO also told Business of Fashion that Cider places orders for small batches of styles. Yet customers have claimed to find copies of its clothes on AliExpress for slightly lower prices, which suggests that Cider — or its suppliers — might be producing and selling extra garments elsewhere. (Cider did not respond to requests for comment over email or Instagram.) @madeline_pendleton Answer to @gorygorygirlfriend ♬ original sound - Madeline Pendleton “It’s so easy for a brand to add another section in its about page to make you feel better about supporting them,” Fevral said. “Cider reached out to me even after I made the video [about its greenwashing practices]. These brands don’t care.” It doesn’t really matter whether sites like Cider are drop shippers or merchants with access to wholesale merchandise. They’re not breaking any laws. In fact, the conspicuousness of the entire enterprise — how exact replicas of certain products can be found on other retail sites for comparable prices — is a defining quality of capitalism. What happens if a brand’s reputation is sullied? Its architects can simply rename it, start over, and continue to source from the same places. One frustrated shopper, who purchased a pleather jacket from a seemingly real German label, remarked that these “scams are getting so sophisticated” that people should be wary of buying things from digital brands they’ve never heard of. Good morning! Instagram/Facebook clothing company scams are getting so sophisticated that if you don’t want to fall for one, you basically just can’t buy from digital brands you’ve never heard of. Signed, bozo who fell for the “Mark & Morten” “going out of business sale”— Anna Sproul-Latimer (@annasproul) August 13, 2020 That’s because there is basically no friction to constructing a virtual storefront, even if it is essentially a digital facade. An aspiring retailer only needs a few things: a website, a catchy domain name, an active social media presence, and product suppliers. (Shein is a preeminent example of this kind of direct-to-consumer retailer, and has morphed into a drop shipping supplier itself.) Several lesser-known brands with murky roots have emerged in Shein’s shadow, offering comparably affordable prices and replicable clothing styles. Like Shein and other ultra-fast fashion retailers, these brands release new styles every week, leaning into fashion “micro-trends” inspired by trendy internet aesthetics, like dark academia, cottagecore, or coconut girl. Since the internet has a notoriously short attention span, these trend-based clothes aren’t made to last. The fast fashion business model relies on overconsumption. In the mission to produce and sell as many clothes as possible, these “ghost stores” are constructing a fashion monoculture — one in which consumers are basically buying and wearing the same clothes, just sold to them from different boutiques. So, is it even possible to tell these brands apart from more reputable retailers? Some shoppers suggest reverse image-searching products and clothes before an impulse purchase, while others sleuth on fashion forums, like Reddit, for customer reviews. It requires the consumer to be diligent and vigilant, to do their homework when encountering new brands, especially if they’re touting questionable origin stories or vague “About Us” pages. The moral of the story? Brands, especially when they operate online, are not always what they seem.
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