The Relevancy Read

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Hot takes, early calls and astute observations, carefully curated.

A Sampling
A Sampling

New romance, New England, no morals.

August 22, 2023

Romance isn’t dead!

Dating apps created a romantic consumerism as convenience driven as online shopping. VR porn is on the rise. True romance declined with technology’s advance, creating new demand for traditional mediums of love and lust. Romantic bookstore Ripped Bodice opened a second location last week to customers lining up around the block for its curation of vintage erotica. The store’s Brooklyn neighbor Anaïs Wine Bar complements a French bottle selection with early-edition feminist erotica, available for sale. Meanwhile, a growing number of singles are turning to “Date-Me” Google Docs that read like good-old-fashioned personal ads, aiming to ink stronger connections than a dating-app swipe. Tap into this nostalgia by imbuing affection, chivalry, and the art of the romantic gesture. Consider this a year-round opportunity for swooning brand strategies, no longer confined to Valentine’s Day.

New England’s the new Hamptons. The Midwest’s the new Sun Belt.

With the rise of “Quiet Luxury” and “Old Money” aesthetics, Northeast summer aspirations shift from the sceney Hamptons to the more understated shores of New England. Photographer Nick Mele’s hit book, A Newport Summer: Off Bellevue, embodies renewed interest in the Gilded-Age glamour of Newport, Rhode Island. In April, Bergdorf Goodman displayed his work throughout the store’s home department. Further south, America’s pandemic-induced zeal for the Sun Belt continues, now home to 12 of the 15 fastest-growing U.S. cities. But as temperatures rise and politics grow increasingly factitious in these states, the next great migration may head for the heartland, offering both affordability and moderate climates. The Midwest currently offers the most worker relocation programs, which The Co. learned about at this year’s SXSW Summit. Consider establishing footprints in these destinations or simply signal their spirit in offerings and initiatives.

We’re entering a Post-Minimalism era. Sorry Kim K.

The minimalist sensibilities that have driven recent years of architecture and aesthetics are beginning to feel more joyless than sophisticated. Enter a return to clutter and collections that make the house a home. Laying the blueprint for change, an Architectural Uprising in Nordic cities pushes back against modern, minimalist design trends in favor of more traditional structures. In New York City, architect David Adjaye unveiled his first skyscraper with a striking façade departing from the sleek, glass-paneled buildings across the city. As consumers crave feelings of individuality, creativity, and sentimentality that are characteristic for more decorative design, we’re sensing a departure from the streamlined and clean. Our hunch says we’ll see an uptick in classic exteriors and the sophisticated whimsy of English interior design.

Is America too selfish for morals?

A recent piece from The Atlantic spurred this question for The Co. With loneliness and depression rising, so too are violence and polarization, a crisis that all may have to do with selfishness. Society once promoted treating neighbors with kindness and serving one’s community, but sensibilities have shifted towards self-care. Prioritizing one's own mental, physical, and economic health above all, America’s lost sight of the benefits that come with service to others. The military, an obvious example of this model, finds itself in a recruiting crisis as Gen Z losses interest, believing they’ll fall behind in earnings and have their lives put on hold. After years of focus on the self, The Co. is calling a mental health movement back towards mutual care and social bonds. Brands and businesses are wise to cue up initiatives now that let customers get involved in some greater good.

Couch-potato products embrace the lazy side of life.

Rebranding for younger audiences, La-Z-Boy created The Decliner, an A.I. powered recliner chair that generates a cancellation excuse via text by pulling its handle and promotes "the joy of missing out.” The average American streams 3.1 hours of video per day, so in theory, this, and LG’s new “TV in a suitcase,” make sense. Tailgaters everywhere will rejoice over the 27-inch StandbyME Go, which supports Airplay, screen mirroring, and voice control. But marketing materials also show the TV in a campsite environment, where people traditionally disconnect from creature comforts like screens. While these products align with the numbers and make for good marketing fodder, they may have a shorter lifespan as consumer, healthcare, and government bodies endeavor to curb collective screen time.

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