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Archive for Wall Street Journal

Thousands of Rich Hipsters Convene At The 2011 Burning Man Festival via Gawker and Palm Beach Post

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How Rich People Do Burning Man

By Lauri Apple | Gawker

Unless you’re wealthy, you’ve probably been spending Burning Man Week moping about how you couldn’t afford tickets to America‘s favorite festival of radical self-expression this year. But make no mistake: Those rich people touring the playa on their Mad Max cruisers are suffering, too.

As the Wall Street Journal tells us, many of this year’s Burners With Money to Burn are doing all they can to avoid the heat, food shortages, and other potential inconveniences of Black Rock City life by spending shitloads of money to recreate the comforts of home. Reps from the RV rental company Classic Adventures RV, for example, tell the WSJ that Vanity Fair New Establishmentarian and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk hired them to set up “an elaborate compound consisting of eight recreational vehicles and trailers stocked with food, linens, groceries and other essentials for himself and his friends and family.” That’s not all:

[Classic Adventures] charges $5,500 to $10,000 per RV for its Camp Classic Concierge packages like Mr. Musk’s. At Mr. Musk’s RV enclave, the help empties septic tanks, brings water and makes sure the vehicles’ electricity, refrigeration, air conditioning, televisions, DVD players and other systems are ship shape. The staff also stocked the campers with Diet Coke, Gatorade and Cruzan rum.

But isn’t part of the point of Burning Man to “rough it,” radically? Perhaps in the olden days this was true. But rich people bring to the festival their own values and beliefs:

  • Sleeping in a tent sucks
  • Being really hot sucks
  • Making your own art is hard, especially when you have no artistic skills or actual creativity whatsoever

About that last item: The WSJ tells us about one San Francisco real estate mogul who either didn’t feel like or lacked the capacity to construct their own sculpture, and therefore they hired a “team of artists and metalworkers” to built one on their behalf. The mogul wasn’t available for comment, but a chef who cooks up gourmet meals for Burners with refined tastes explains: “People have less and less time to be radically self-reliant.”

Despite their relatively resplendent accommodations, upper-crust Burners can’t shield themselves from every hardship:

Adam Stephenson, a 40-year-old marketing director for Symantec Corp., says that even though he is paying a premium for RV service, he put a lot of work into building a shade tent and buying costumes and supplies. And the RV isn’t the Ritz. “It’s not super easy,” he says. “The air conditioner is not on all the time.”

And when the A/C does break, the rich people sweat just like the poor people sweat. The sun treats everyone the same. This is one of the lessons you learn out there on the desert, when you’re not mastering leadership and contemplating how creativity can bourguignon-beef up your bottom line.

If you’re still sad about missing out on all the adventure and enlightenment and rich-people whining, this live-cam takes you to the action:
Live Video app for Facebook by Ustream

Burning Man 2011: Rites of Passage | Palm Beach Post

Tens of thousands of people have descended on a great expanse of Nevada desert to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Burning Man, a gathering of free spirits, artists, entrepreneurs — and anyone else who managed to get a ticket.

Several thousand more would-be participants will have to wait until next year, as 2011 marks another historic milestone: the first time the event has ever sold out, said Burning Man communications manager Andie Grace.

(Story continues below)

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According to an agreement with the Bureau of Land Management, the event is permitted an average of only 50,000 people per day, Grace said.

The theme of this year’s festival, “Rites of Passage,” is an appropriate one as it also previews a change in the structure of the California-based Black Rock City, L.L.C., which runs the event, from a for-profit organization to a not-for-profit that will continue to promote the festival’s ideology throughout the year.

Net-a-Porter: Natalie Massenet sells luxury fashion website via [wsj]

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Richemont to Buy Net-a-Porter

[PORTER] Net-a-Porter.com

In addition to selling luxury clothing,

Net-a-Porter has established itself as an online fashion magazine.

Swiss luxury goods maker Compagnie Financière Richemont SA on

Thursday announced a deal to buy U.K.-based online luxury retailer Net-a-Porter

Ltd., a transaction that signals the increasing importance high-end

consumer goods companies are assigning to online sales.

Richemont, the owner of brands such as Cartier, Montblanc and Chloe,

previously held a 33% stake in closely held Net-a-Porter, but agreed

to acquire a majority of the company from a group of private

shareholders for up to £225 million ($341 million). Richemont said the

transaction values the overall company at £350 million.

Net-a-Porter, founded in 2000 by former fashion journalist Natalie

Massenet, has been a forerunner in selling expensive designer women’s

clothes and accessories online. That is a space that was long

overlooked by big luxury goods houses like Richemont, Burberry PLC and

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA , which jumped on the online sales

bandwagon far later than their lower-priced counterparts did.


Former fashion journalist Natalie Massenet

founded the site in 2000.

Lately, however, the big luxury brands have made digital retailing a

higher priority, having recognized that shoppers are increasingly

willing to buy very expensive products on the Web. But selling $1,000

dresses online is different from hawking groceries or second-hand

books: Customers want an editorial element, a guiding hand to replace

the in-store salesperson and signal what’s in style, which is where

Net-a-Porter has carved out its niche.

The Web site, which says it has been profitable since 2004 and

reported sales of about £120 million for the fiscal year ended Jan. 31,

has established itself as an interactive shopping fashion magazine,

publishing 52 weeks of editorial content each year alongside its

designer clothes sales operation.

“It’s just as much a magazine as it is a store,” said Ms. Massenet

in an interview. “That really has served us well, because when you’re

online you lose the offline experience of walking into a store.”

Net-a-Porter plans to expand its operation in the U.S. as the market

for luxury online retailing heats up. The company currently operates a

50,000 square foot distribution center in New York’s Long Island City,

which handles about 30% of the company’s business. CEO Mark Sebba says

Net-a-Porter intends to more than double the U.S. operation’s capacity

in the coming year and open a new distribution center in Southeast


The deal with Richemont takes away Net-a-Porter’s independence, and

some retailers selling their goods through the luxury Web vendor could

be upset that it is now owned by a competing company. But Ms. Massenet

says Richemont lets its divisions operate independently and

Net-a-Porter’s suppliers have never had a problem with the Geneva-based

company being a shareholder. Richemont first invested in Net-a-Porter

in 2002.

Natalie Massenet

Democratic: The

website has made designer fashion easily accessible to women around the


A year ago, Net-a-Porter launched a sister site, theOutnet.com,

which offers discounted designer clothes. The move indicated the newest

frontier in online luxury shopping: discount Web sites, some of which

operate flash sales of high-end merchandise. EBay Inc., Gilt Groupe Inc.

and GSI Commerce Inc.’s Rue La La have entered the online discount

luxury sector too.

Ms. Massenet held an undisclosed stake in the company she founded,

and will stay on as executive chairman.

Write to Paul Sonne at paul.sonne@wsj.com


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Social Climbing Game Proper: Genevieve Jones via [Mahalo, Society Noir, and Lovelyish]

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Genevieve Jones is a Manhattan socialite who has appeared in
magazines such as Vogue.

Vogue shows Genevieve Jones Some

New York socialite and Zac Posen muse
Genevieve Jones, has finally launched her jewelry line and is featured
as a ‘designer on the rise’ in this month’s Vogue US. The ultra-petite
Louisiana native has been working on her jewelry collection since 2006
and has produced some really nice pieces. I especially like her diamond
and gold, safety pin earrings. 

Genevieve I’m glad your putting
all that networking and popularity to good use. NYC WASP socialites
aren’t the only ones marketable these days. Get your money Genevieve,
get that money honey.
Genevieve are you still working on your handbag collection?

She has been referred to as It girl of the moment and the
black Paris Hilton because of the social circles she frequents.How ‘it girl’
scaled the world of fashion
(September 14, 2006)
FabSugar: Fabcon: Genevieve Jones
(August 8, 2008)

Fast Facts

  1. Hometown: Baton Rouge, LouisianaHow ‘it girl’
    scaled the world of fashion
    (September 14, 2006)
  2. Height: 5’6″
  3. Weight: 100 lbsHow ‘it girl’
    scaled the world of fashion
    (September 14, 2006)
  4. Referred to as the black Paris HiltonFabSugar: Fabcon: Genevieve Jones (August
    8, 2008)
  5. Attended McKinley High SchoolHow ‘it girl’
    scaled the world of fashion
    (September 14, 2006)
  6. Claims first boyfriend was Trent ReznorHow ‘it girl’
    scaled the world of fashion
    (September 14, 2006)
  • The Mystery “It” Girl

    Although considered a celebrity in the New York fashion scene,
    details of Genevieve Jones’ personal life have remained a mystery.
    Little confirmed information exists on her past, which has lent to her
    Internet fame and mysterious appeal.

    An article from the Wall Street Journal revealed that Jones doesn’t
    have a regular job, but she refers to herself as an interior designer.
    According to the same article Jones grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana,
    and was not raised in a life of luxury. Jones has reportedly attended
    college and has refused to reveal the source of her wealth on different
    Jones claims that her first boyfriend was singer Trent Reznor of Nine
    Inch Nails. Jones started appearing in elite social circles after
    moving to Manhattan in 1998. She befriended model Irina Pantaeva and
    started attending parties and art exhibit openings.How ‘it girl’
    scaled the world of fashion
    (September 14, 2006)

  • Style Crush: Genevieve Jones

  • For those of you who may not know her, it’s my
    pleasure to introduce you to Genevieve Jones. The accessories
    designer has been around for a while now but ruffled
    some feathers when she first came onto the fashion scene – seemingly
    out of nowhere- as a socialite with a wardrobe most starlets can’t get a
    hold of. People wanted to know who this girl with no breeding was (their
    words, not mine) so when reporters found out she was 31 instead of  27, they went crazy. How dare she lie about
    her age? What kind of person does that? Arrest her right now!  

    I wouldn’t care if she was 40; the girl can
    seriously dress!

    I seriously crush on her style because she
    looks like she has fun with fashion. She takes risks without looking
    like she’s thinking too much about them.

    I love the tights she wears in the second to the
    last photo and have been looking for a skirt much like the one she wears
    in the very first photo.

    Yeah, love her!

    Click here for more photos of Jones

    lovelies, let’s rate her overall style; 1 being ewwwww and 10 being

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    Shoptimism by Lee Eisenberg via [WSJ]


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    The Bonhomie Of Buying

    Shoptimism: Why the American Consumer Will Keep on Buying No Matter  WhatShoptimism: Why the American Consumer Will Keep on Buying No Matter What by Lee Eisenberg
    Buy new: $17.16 / Used from: $11.75
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    Our shopping habits may be easily manipulated, but they are not as irrational as critics like to believe.


    As the economy tanked last year, pundits claimed that we were entering a new age of frugality. We would stop shopping and learn to “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without,” like our grandparents who lived through the Depression.

    There was just one problem with this prediction: Given how much money is riding on the consumer economy, legions of people now spend their lives figuring out how to make the buying experience more alluring than the days of pulling Gold Medal Flour down from the shelves of the general store. As an IBM report once noted: “We probably know as much about the behavior of the human shopper in its natural habitat, the mall, the grocery, or the department store, as we do about the activities of any species of animal in the wild.” Now former Esquire editor Lee Eisenberg adds his own take, examining why modern Americans find shopping so irresistible.

    Mr. Eisenberg’s previous book, “The Number,” was magnificently hyped as offering a new way of looking at retirement; “Shoptimism” aims to offer a similarly novel view on the big idea of buying and selling. There is a coincidental affinity between the subjects: One of the reasons we have such trouble saving for retirement is that merchandisers are so good at getting us to part with our money in the here and now. As for his credentials, Mr. Eisenberg tells us that he was once a senior executive at Lands’ End, in addition to being “a breadwinner, which means I take a proprietary and sometimes overbearing interest in how my wife and kids choose to disburse what hard-earned money I bring to the party.”

    Mr. Eisenberg approaches consumer culture more as an anthropologist than as what he calls a Buy Scold (berating Americans for spending money on things they neither want nor need). He turns up some interesting tidbits. Black Friday shoppers, just after Thanksgiving, say that they’re battling the crowds on behalf of themselves rather than shopping for loved ones. November is usually the second biggest month for buying things, after December, “but not every year—global warming,” Mr. Eisenberg says, “can play havoc with sales of sweaters and winter outerwear.” The brains of tight-fisted folks react to high prices in the same way they do to physical pain. We absorb advertising messages so well that—in a world saturated with PC Guy vs. Mac Dude ads—we actually perform better on creativity tests after being cued by references to Apple products. At the same time, brands are losing their vice grip as shoppers figure out that generic items are often made in the same factories as branded ones and as retailers like Whole Foods manage to turn their private labels into desirable goods.

    Much of this information has been written about before—Paco Underhill, the author of “Why We Buy” (who makes an appearance in “Shoptimism”), has explored shopping habits for some time now, and Martin Lindstrom‘s “Buyology” tackled the neuroscience of shopping last year. But it’s entertaining to have it compiled in one big box store of a book, packaged in Mr. Eisenberg’s genial prose.

    After a while, though, his endless taxonomies of shoppers (e.g., Bring-Back Queens and Friends of Faux, with a soft spot for designer knock-offs) get as tedious as finding the right tie from a sales rack at Macy’s. And Mr. Eisenberg misses opportunities to create a more compelling narrative. As part of writing “Shoptimism,” he took a job working at a Target store during the holiday season, but he offers maddeningly few details about the day-to-day realities of the experience, aside from the fact that he learned not to touch the wheelchairs of disabled customers. By contrast, we hear more than we need to about his field trip to help his wife buy a little black dress. This escapade is supposed to show the shopping experience from initial idea to postgame wrap-up, but it seems to take the same hour and 45 minutes to read that Mr. Eisenberg reports he spent in the store.

    Despite such meandering, Mr. Eisenberg does eventually stumble onto the overarching argument inherent in his title: Shopping, in modern America, is fundamentally an optimistic activity. While our shopping habits are easily manipulated, they are not quite as irrational as critics like to believe. For most of us shopping, when done right, really does make us feel better. We buy because it “confers instant membership in a community.” We buy “to express ourselves.” Most important, we buy because “buying is fun, sociable, and diverting, an escape from boring, predictable existence.” If a sweater or an iPod can do that, and Mr. Eisenberg is convincing that it can, then no wonder, recession or not, it’s hard to keep Americans out of the stores.

    Ms. Vanderkam is a writer in New York.

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