End of a trend

Patagonia's decision. More seriously, of course, the verdict in Minnesota. Also, 7 other things worth your time.

A couple of years ago, my wife got me a Patagonia vest for Christmas.

It was kind of a shared joke, because I like these vests, but I’d also written about how they had gained a reputation for being the "unofficial uniform" of Manhattan "finance bros" —especially co-branded versions of the vests with investment bank or tech company logos opposite the Patagonia logo. 

There was an Instagram page. @MidtownUniform. Quite amusing.

In 2019, Esquire described the uniform as to include the vest, along with, "the crisp oxford shirt: almost always white or blue, though sometimes pink ... [and] slacks. [I]nvariably navy or khaki."

I’m not really sure how they became popular in that world, but there are a few theories:

  • The Esquire story went on to quote a Wall Street analyst who said he first saw the uniform in 2014, and another who started wearing the vests to copy his boss.

  • Another theory: The guy behind @MidtownUniform credited the Showtime series, Billions (debut: 2016) with the trend, since the "Dollar Bill Stearn" character was partial to them.

  • I think they really took off after Jeff Bezos was spotted wearing one at a conference in Sun Valley, Idaho in July 2017. With his bare arms exposed, he looked like he'd spent the last few years in the gym.

But the future is where fashion goes to die, and in our pre-post-pandemic world, some of us feel dressed up if we’ve put on pants before our Zoom calls.

If that weren’t enough, Patagonia itself announced recently that it’s “transitioning away from adding additional logos,” largely because they don’t like the idea of 11.3 million tons of textiles landing in landfills annually::

[A]dding an additional non-removable logo reduces the life span of a garment, often by a lot, for trivial reasons. People change jobs, and the extra logo makes for an awkward re-gift.

People tend not to pass logo’d gear down to their kids, and not everyone wants to be an advertisement on weekends, even if they’re proud to go into work on weekdays.

The result? Perfectly good gear ends up forgotten in the closet—or worse, gets tossed in the trash.

This is actually the slow, Part 2 of Patagonia’s policy change. Two years ago, they announced they wanted to work with "mission-driven companies that prioritize the planet.” This just seems like a cleaner break.

As for my non-cobranded edition? Well, I must admit I’m not a guy who buys a lot of new clothes, so I’ll very likely wear it a while longer—which, come to think of it, is Patagonia’s entire stated point.

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7 other things worth your time

  • Following nearly a year of protest, introspection and raw emotion, ex-Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, who last May held a knee down on George Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes, was found guilty of second-degree murder and two other charges. He was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs, and faces a possible 40 years in prison. (CBS Local Minnesota)

  • Across the country, cities were bracing for violence after the verdict. But at least as of the time I’m wrapping this up this newsletter, that hasn’t been the reported reaction at all. “Civil rights activists praised the decision, and so did police chiefs. Politicians on either side of the aisle found rare common ground. Mayors dared to exhale. The Chauvin verdict wasn't enough to heal America's deepest wounds, all seemed to agree. But at least it wasn't going to inflame them further.” (KTLA, The Washington Post)

  • Last June, I wrote here about Darnella Frazier, who was 17 when she first recorded and shared the video of Floyd’s death,” and who has since been called “the most influential filmmaker of the century” as a result. (Understandably.com)

  • For the first time in 60 years, there is no Castro ruling Cuba, after Raúl Castro, younger brother of Fidel, stepped down Monday. “Many older Cubans remember the poverty and inequality they faced before the Castros, and remain loyal to the revolution despite decades of hardship. But younger generations, who grew up with … access to education and health care, chafe at its limits. They are demanding less government control and more economic freedom.” (NYT)

  • In New York City, the “once mighty tourism industry” is showing the first signs of revial. Hotel occupancy is up 6 percent since January, last week 4,100 people rode the ferry from Manhattan to the Statute of Liberty (up from 2,500 three weeks ago), and the Metropolitan Museum of Art has been getting 7,000 visitors a day, up from 4,000 last summer. (Bloomberg)

  • This also feels like a leading indicator that maybe things are getting better? Or at least people think they’re getting better? In 2020, Netflix grew like a weed; so far this year it reported yesterday, growth has slowed as the world begins (hopefully) to recover from the pandemic. (Globe & Mail)

  • Gosh, it seems like only yesterday that I wrote about the new European Super League poised to take over soccer for the benefit of the wealthiest team owners, and … wait, what’s that? Six of the teams have already left the league after a massive backlash? (Axios)


Thanks for reading. Photo credit: Pixabay. I wrote about the vests right after “Part 1” at Inc.com. If you’re not a subscriber to Understandably, please sign up for the daily email newsletter—with thousands and thousands of 5-star ratings from happy readers. (Want to see all my mistakes? Click here.)

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