Hillier Hobos and Doubloon Cats
after school weekend edition
Hi friends! Welcome back to After School ✨weekend edition✨, an extra long and extra opinionated youth culture digest for paid subscribers.
Last weekend, on our way back to Brooklyn from upstate NY, we swung through New Jersey “just for the fun of it” and went to the Willowbrook Mall in Wayne. I expected it to be quiet. It was a mall, after all — and malls are dead, right? But the exit was backed up onto the highway, and the parking lot was nearly at capacity. There were maybe 50,000 people at this mall. A lot of families, truly so many strollers, but also a whole lot of teenagers just hanging out with their friends. The food court was especially packed with young people. Shoppers sipped Orange Juliuses between bites of hot pretzels. I felt like it was 2002.
A friend clued me in that at least part of the reason this particular place was so packed is that malls are closed on Sundays in Bergen County due to a law from the 1600s — but even so, it was wild to see a mall so popping in 2022.
That said, one of the anchor stores, an odd little TJ Maxx-type department store called Shopper’s Find, was having a store closing sale, so not every retail concept is thriving.
Anyway, this week, KPMG released a report on holiday shopping and confirmed that malls are very much cool again. According to their research, Gen Z consumers “are most likely to do their 2022 holiday shopping at a mall (59%), while millennials expect to spend the most per trip to the mall ($439 per trip). Curious, then, that so many retailers are putting their budgets towards metaverse activations and web3 experiences this holiday season. Bloomingdale’s, Pacsun, American Eagle — everyone’s doing it! I’m hoping to write a special letter in the coming weeks that goes a little bit deeper into these holiday campaigns, as well as a gift guide, so stay tuned.
Today, we’re talking about:
A DTC “hotel-inspired slipper” startup
A beauty startup trying to rebrand glycerin
The “new Farfetch of lab-grown diamond jewelry”
Next-gen luxury personal shoppers
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens
And so much more, including everything I’m buying, watching, and reading!