Disco Balls and Prom Dresses
after school weekend edition
I had drinks this week with a few of my favorite Gen Z founders (they're over 21, don't worry) (and check out Selleb and Flox if you haven't yet — both are brilliant). Hanging out with them made me realize I don't have enough conversations with Gen Zers, and I'd love an excuse to change that.
Thing is, I'm already sending five emails a week to you. That’s so many emails — you’re too busy to read all that.
So, is this a video series?
A live audio thing?
Is it sent in lieu of these meandering extra-long weekend emails?
Is it…a terrible idea?
I'd love to hear your thoughts. (Just hit reply!)
Speaking of conversations, I had a great one with Very Fine Day founder Brad Esposito. You can read it here!
OK, let’s get to it. Today, we’re talking status headphones, cheaters, swingers, rich kids, ugly shoes, and how I gave in to low-rise jeans. Enjoy!
⚡ Style ⚡
Circa 2016, Airpods were status-y. Then the cool kids switched to wired. Now it’s all about the Max. These days, “finishing off a look with a pair of AirPods Max has become the Gen Z equivalent of a designer bag, and in the comments on plenty of videos featuring the headphones, plenty of users are commenting that ‘they’re convinced,’ ‘buying now,’ and so on.”
If you’re in your early 20s on a Friday night, what are you wearing, and where are you going? “Maybe you're posted up at a dark, swanky bar in a pair of strappy, sparkly Mach & Mach heels, a Cult Gaia crystal-encrusted shoulder bag sitting next to a plate of oysters and an espresso martini in your hand.”
Have you noticed that disco balls are suddenly everywhere? So has the Times. “After being relegated to kitschy party décor or retro bars, disco balls can now be found adorning weddings, TikTok home decor videos and housewares stores both high (as melted sculptures for Kelly Wearstler) and low (as planters on Etsy).”
Last week we talked about Tory Burch’s Gen Z strategy involving tapping Euphoria star Sydney Sweeney as the latest brand ambassador. Part two of that strategy: Casting Benito Skinner, famously known online as Benny Drama, and Riverdale star Madelaine Petsch in her new campaign, highlighting the brand’s Good Luck Trainer. “The spring-friendly sneaker features a wishbone in the sole (hence the name), a chunky silhouette, and a ‘Double T’ logo motif.” (To which I say, good luck making these shoes a thing!)
An example of a very good Gen Z marketing strategy: Susan Alexandra collaborated with meme account Starter Packs of NYC, and it’s brilliant.
Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour Tour came through New York this week, and Nylon did a street style feature on the Gen Z concert-goers, many of whom wore prom dresses and platform Docs. Do yourself a favor and check it out, because it is completely delightful and a great reminder just how much Gen Z rules.
⚡ Startups ⚡
Entertainment company Mad Realities raised $6 million to create decentralized media.
Copper, a digital banking service aimed at teens, raised $29 million in Series A (having raised a total of $42.3 million since its 2019 inception).
Digital banking startup Cogni initially launched with the intent to offer “personalized banking products for the 18-35 crowd.” Now, Cogni raised another $23 million in funding to bring web2 and web3 services together on one platform.
Madison Reed raises $33 million in new funding to ‘disrupt the terrible box on the shelf’. Jay Z is among the new investors.
Beyoncé, meanwhile, is participating in “enhanced water brand” Lemon Perfect’s $31M funding round.
Sojo, the British clothing alterations app that already has a Ganni partnership under its belt, just raised a $2.4 million pre-seed. I love this company and I’m so excited to watch them go.
⚡ TikTok ⚡
Everything the TikTok girlies are buying this week: Crochet. Merit Beauty’s Flush Balm. Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blush. Tarte Cosmetic’s Cheek Stain. (What can I say, they’re really into blush at the moment!) Checkerboard rugs. Elta MD tinted sunscreen (because Hailey Bieber wears it). L’Oréal Paris Magic Root Touch Up Spray (for fake freckles).
I’m sorry to report that the “definitive hair color” for summer is something called “vanilla almond butter”, according to TikTok.
This headline is just so funny. Sunscreen = out!
TikTok already knows what everyone is wearing to the Met Gala. Ahead of next weekend’s event, the app has been flooded with people's predictions as to who will be attending and what they will be wearing, and honestly, most of them sound pretty believable. The most unbelievable thing, to me, is that young people care this much about the Met Gala.
The newest influencer to go viral on TikTok? Martha!!!
Gen Z has a juggernaut of a new beauty influencer: Martha Stewart, age 80. In February, the world’s most celebrated domesticity virtuoso went viral with five startlingly sassy, coquettish, goofy, rambunctious video ads she made with Clé de Peau, the Japanese skin care and makeup company, for that online stronghold of 13- to 25-year olds, TikTok. In the first seven weeks after the videos were posted on TikTok and Instagram, they had 78 million views.
TikTok influencers are becoming cheating detectives.
These tests have become so popular — amassing nearly 900 million views on TikTok — that many creators now get paid to do them. Some popular TikTokers even do sponsored loyalty test videos, like @aye_its_emilyy, who collaborated with male grooming company Manscaped to give away a free ball trimmer. Dystopian!
TikTok's swinger community — thriving, apparently! — is burning with divorce drama. The #SwingTok hashtag has racked up 1.5 billion views (#swingerslifestyle has another 908 million), and there’s some drama between two couples—one of which claims to have kickstarted the platform's swinging trend. So TikTok’s turned into a Netflix reality show, in other words.
Realtors are using TikTok to market, buy and sell houses in the Hudson Valley housing market (though the Hudson Valley’s already-hot housing market doesn’t exactly need the help).
People hate their guts, but landlord influencers just keep on posting.
Speaking of, uh, guts, gut health advice is rampant on the app. Last summer, “hot girls have IBS” became a widespread meme — and now TikTok is absolutely overrun with videos on “how to heal your gut.” But gut healing content is pretty much just a “rebrand of diet culture.”
Tumblr eating disorder culture has unfortunately (if unsurprisingly) made it to TikTok, from body checking to “what I eat in a day” videos.
TikTok is normalizing hair transplants for men…
…and leg-lengthening surgery to make oneself permanently taller. So much for short king season!
⚡ End Times ⚡
College applicants are avoiding schools in anti-abortion and anti-trans states.
“The average starting salary for a college graduate hovers around $55,000, and our survey found that college graduates expect to earn $104,000 after graduation.” Oof.
Study finds more rich white teens are carrying guns.
“Panera Bread is partnering with Ntwrk, a livestreaming mobile shopping platform, to help promote the restaurant chain’s new chicken sandwich.” Just…what?
⚡ Other things I read, bought, loved ⚡
Read: New York is in the midst of a one-bedroom rental shortage due to all the pandemic breakups and divorces. Rich New York women are knowingly — proudly, even! — buying fake Birkins. Those Netflix layoffs were brutal, and so is this piece about what it means for media. How one man tried to build a DMT-based cult on Reddit and lost everything.
Bought: My loyalty to Gap knows no bounds — even though it's been mostly terrible for the last, I don't know, decade? — but a few recent purchases have restored my faith in the future of the store. I am so, so tired of flouncy baby doll dresses. I don't want to look like a 5-year-old! I want short. I want simple. I want a shift! Gap delivered on this, and it's just perfect. Short, but not too short. Stretchy, but not too stretchy. Outstanding neckline (though it is not, despite the product name, a halter), and ideal weight (a substantial rib). I surrendered to low-rise jeans. I’ve been writing about Gen Z for too long.
Listened: I really, really like the Pusha T album. “Rock N Roll” and “Scrape It Off” are my personal favorites, but the whole album is asking for a windows-down summer road trip. I want the new Future album to be better than it is. A track featuring Young Thug and Gunna should be the song of the summer, and not…whatever this is.