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High Sport Skeptics Have Entered the Chat

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High Sport Skeptics Have Entered the Chat

If you are plugged into fashion discourse, you’ve probably heard about High Sport Kick Pant by now (perhaps against your will). They are stretch ponte trousers with a cropped flare above the ankle and pleats down the center of the legs. Sturdier than leggings and distinctly more polished. The intrigue around these pants reached a fever pitch on Substack in late 2023 – early 2024. The Kick Pant has developed a cult following, but skepticism has started to mount.

Substack, the newsletter platform, is integral to the phenomenon of High Sport. It’s where fashion influencers and ex-editors with large followings raved about the pants to their readers. Several glowing endorsements were published within a short time span. Word spread like wildfire within the platform’s ecosystem. Substack writer Rachel Solomon of Hey Mrs. Solomon describes the High Sport pants as a “fireball” item that seemed to “materialize out of nowhere.” She believes the hype is tied to the inherent “miracle potential” of pants, which are extra compelling because “the ass/thigh area is so important when it comes to fit and use case.” People will pay a lot for pants that make their butt look good.

“The chatter about these pants on Substack chat was non-stop,” says the writer of Totally Recommend, a self-described “recovering marketing CEO” who goes by Rufina. Her assessment of the situation? It seemed like no one beyond fashion writers and influencers actually owned the High Sport pants, yet everyone was hunting for alternatives. “I realized we were all searching for dupes without even knowing what the originals were truly like. That’s when my curiosity really kicked in. I knew I had to get my hands on these pants,” Rufina states.

Vi Huynh wears a thrifted version of the High Sport pants;

Courtesy of Vi Huynh

1712933763 594 High Sport Skeptics Have Entered the Chat

Vi Huynh wears a thrifted version of the High Sport pants;

Courtesy of Vi Huynh

Solomon and Rufina both bought the pants and wrote about them on their Substacks. Both writers gave their honest opinions on everyone’s burning question: are they worth it? And, of course, where can one find a good dupe? Rufina’s review series, “The Scoop On The High Sport Dupe,” made the Substack rounds for its thorough list of dupes from Ann Mashburn, Donni, and Spanx to Banana Republic, Old Navy, and J.Crew. More chatter ensued.

Then, The Cut published a High Sport piece last month that laid bare the financial incentives for Substack writers recommending the High Sport pants with affiliate links. The public reception of the article drove the discourse around these pants towards suspicion. It reminded people of the importance of taking product recommendations with a grain of salt when someone stands to make a hefty commission.

High Sport skepticism has kindled on Substack—the same place where the fanfare began. This time, discourse around the pants are tinged with mixed feelings around the gray area of affiliate marketing and fashion writing. Kickbacks on the Kick Pant have soured the hype for many.

In her latest High Sport dupe post, Rufina ponders if we should aspire towards these pants in the first place: “Are they an unspoken application to an elite club, where the entry fee is a slim waist, a fat bank account, and a life elegantly soaring above the mundane irritations familiar to the rest of us?” Readers resonated with this perspective. The comment section contemplated the writers’ ability to make $135 per sale via affiliate links on a rave review. “For some people, these pants might still be their top pick, fitt ing their style and budget. But knowing about the commission thing bursts the bubble,” Rufina continues. Solomon reflects on how the High Sport hype has played out. “I have noticed a little more skepticism, almost like we can all suddenly breathe a sigh of relief and go…wait, aren’t these just thick, hot pants that have a cute length?”

1712933763 870 High Sport Skeptics Have Entered the Chat

Vi Huynh wears a thrifted version of the High Sport pants;

Courtesy of Vi Huynh

1712933763 528 High Sport Skeptics Have Entered the Chat

Rachel Solomon wears the High Sport Kick pants;

Courtesy of Rachel Solomon

Some have held a critical eye towards High Sport pants from the start. Em Seely Katz, news editor of Magasin and writer of Human Repeller, knows the nitty-gritty economics of luxury clothing production and marketing. “I know a pair of stretch pants should not cost nearly a grand without a 1000% or so markup,” Seely-Katz reveals.

When vintage seller Vi Huynh first saw the High Sport pants, the “egregious price point” stopped her from what would have been an immediate purchase otherwise. Huynh keeps up with niche fashion discourse and believes that High Sport’s brand strategy relies on the appeal of “quiet luxury” rather than a truly superior material product. “They don’t need regular people buying their pants. They’re saying: we’re the Loro Piana of stretch pants,” she continues.

Despite the skepticism around price point and kickbacks, the appetite for High Sport dupes has not waned. Seely-Katz has been diligently researching mid-price-range dupes in response to the Magasin readership’s interest. For example, they say that Sézane’s new gingham pants (around $200) are just as worthy of wear as the originals. Huynh maintains that the High Sport look is easy to find at thrift stores due to the popularity of ponte pants during the 90s and 2000s. Her advice? Focus on material—while rayon, polyester, and spandex blends are common, the better quality ones feel thick to the touch and retain shape when stretched.

However, High Sport diehards maintain that the dupes are incomparable to the original. Writer Jess Graves of The Love List reports that the material from Old Navy and Donni versions were “flimsy and thin,” a far cry from High Sport’s “thick Italian knit that holds you in.” Graves, who purchased the High Sports with her own money, wears the pants “so often the cost per wear is probably around a dollar at this point.”

High Sport Skeptics Have Entered the Chat

Ruffina wears a dupe of the High Sport pants;

Courtesy of Rufina

1712933763 874 High Sport Skeptics Have Entered the Chat

Vi Huynh wears a thrifted version of the High Sport pants;

Courtesy of Vi Huynh

Unlike Instagram, Substack is still a relatively new space where the norms of affiliate marketing—and how consumers can expect to engage with it—are still taking shape. One can find a broad mix of fashion content, from personal essays and styling tips to shopping-driven posts heavy on affiliate links. Perhaps it is due to this broad spectrum of how and when writers participate in affiliate marketing that pinpointed skepticism towards High Sport pants in a way that may not have materialized on, say, Instagram.

Seely-Katz, who does use affiliate links on Human Repeller, emphasizes that they have built trust with their readers in terms of how they disclose commissions. “People who read my newsletter know that I emphatically don’t go out of my way to center affiliate links, many of my posts having none at all […] I am thoughtful about what products I endorse, no matter the price point,” they state. Graves echoes this sentiment. She views affiliate income as compensation for the work of content creation. In regards to her Substack, “my readers get that if I am publishing something without a paywall, affiliate links are a way to help me accrue some payment for that time spent. I don’t let it sway my editorial decisions though,” Graves notes. Rufina does not use affiliate links but acknowledges that with the instability of the media landscape, “It’s really tricky for me to say how writers should be making their money.” As a former advertising professional, her main concern was seeing High Sport purchase links posted without an affiliate disclaimer.

Ultimately, the story of High Sport reveals how Substack is becoming an increasingly robust ecosystem for launching status-y products that go viral within a subset of fashion consumers. Seely-Katz describes the phenomenon as a “self-fulfilling prophecy,” where people who buy such items are more likely to broadcast them in their publications, “creating an illusion that literally everyone is buying this stuff.”

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Red Lobster Speaks Out on ‘Misunderstood’ Bankruptcy Filing

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Red Lobster Speaks Out on 'Misunderstood' Bankruptcy Filing

It may be the end of an era for beloved seafood chain Red Lobster, which officially declared bankruptcy on Monday after months of speculation and dozens of abrupt restaurant closures.

Now, the company is speaking out to loyal customers — and investigating the role that its shrimp supplier may have played in its demise.

Related: Red Lobster Suddenly Shutters Dozens of Locations Without Warning Employees, Begins Auctioning Off Equipment

In a letter posted to social media, Red Lobster thanked customers for their nearly five decades of loyalty and assured the masses that the chain wasn’t going anywhere.

“Bankruptcy is a word that is often misunderstood. Filing for bankruptcy does not mean we are going out of business,” Red Lobster wrote. “In fact, it means just the opposite. It is a legal process that allows us to make changes to our business and our cost structure so that Red Lobster can continue as a stronger company going forward.”

Red Lobster noted that companies including Delta Airlines and Hertz “emerged stronger” after filing for Chapter 11 (Delta in September 2005, Hertz in May 2020) and found ways to bounce back.

“Birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, and yes, weddings. We’ve been here for them all,” the chain penned. “Red Lobster is determined to be there for these moments for generations to come.”

Red Lobster’s downfall was a slow burn, primarily blamed on an $11 million loss in November 2023 due to the chain rollout of an “Endless Shrimp” promotion. The deal offered customers all the shrimp they could eat for $20, and it proved to be a bit too popular.

Last week, it was reported that stores had begun shuttering without warning around the country, with dozens auctioning off all of their furniture and equipment online and some employees claiming they were given no notice ahead of time.

In a filing on Sunday, Red Lobster CEO Jonathan Tibus called out former CEO Paul Kenny and Red Lobster’s seafood supplier and owner, Thai Union, regarding decisions made surrounding the “Endless Shrimp” promotion and that Red Lobster is “currently investigating the circumstances” around the decision to make the promotion permanent instead of limited-time.

Related: Endless Shrimp Deal Is Too Popular, Red Lobster Loses $11M

“I understand that Thai Union exercised an outsized influence on the Company’s shrimp purchasing,” Tibus wrote. “[Red Lobster is] exploring the impact of the control Thai Union exerted, in concert with Mr. Kenny and other Thai Union-affiliated entities and individuals, and whether actions taken in light of these parties’ varying interests were appropriate and consistent with applicable duties and obligations to Red Lobster.”

Thai Union completed its purchase of Red Lobster in 2020.



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UMass Dartmouth Commencement Speaker Gives Grads $1000 Each

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UMass Dartmouth Commencement Speaker Gives Grads $1000 Each

The best commencement speeches are often motivational and thought-provoking, leaving new graduates optimistic as they head into the “real world.”

But for the Class of 2024 at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, new grads walked away with more than just a wealth of knowledge — they left their ceremony with an extra $1,000 in their pockets.

Related: ‘There Is More To Life Than Work’: Bill Gates Delivers Emotional Message To Graduates About Learning To Take A Break

Last week, the founder and CEO of Granite Telecommunications, Robert Hale Jr., spoke to grads at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth about their futures and shared a story about a time when his business suffered a $1 billion loss in just one day to explain the importance of perseverance through failure.

“It’s okay to fail,” Hale told graduates. “Life will give you challenges and if you take those challenges you’ll fail from time to time — don’t worry about it … don’t fear failure, understand that it’s just part of the process, and if you use that fear of failure to motivate yourself, you’ll be better for it.”

Then, as he wrapped up, he shocked the audience by announcing he was giving each graduate graduate $1,000 — but there was a catch.

“These trying times have heightened the need for sharing, caring, and giving,” Hale told students. “Our community needs you and your generosity more than ever.”

The students were given two envelopes with $500 each — one was intended for the students to keep for themselves while the other was for them to give to someone else in need.

Related: Sheryl Sandberg’s Advice to Grads: Banish Self-Doubt, Dream Bigger and Lean In, Always

“As the degree conferral was about to begin, Hale came forward and let the graduates know he had one more bit of advice for them. He told the eager crowd that for him and his wife Karen, ‘the greatest joys we’ve had in our life have been the gift of giving,'” UMass Dartmouth said in a release. “Hale let the Class of 2024 know that the two large duffle bags being brought up on stage by security were packed with envelopes full of cash.”

There were roughly 1,200 students in UMass Dartmouth’s 2024 graduating class.

Hale’s current net worth is an estimated $5.4 billion.



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Stay Prepared on the Road with This $80 Tire Inflator

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Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Business travel is inherently risky because driving poses certain innate hazards. If you’re a business leader sending yourself, team members, or employees out on the road, the least you can do is equip them with the tools they need to operate as safely as possible and get out of a jam if they happen to run into one.

A great tool that’s designed to help fix flat tires, this HOTO Air Pump Pro Portable Air Compressor and Tire Inflator, is on sale for just $79.99 (reg. $119). Promised to be 85% faster than competitors, this four-preset air pump is made to be able to fill a tire in at most five minutes.

Running on a 12V pump motor, this fast-working pump features a powerful battery life that can charge as many as 15 under-inflated tires within a single charge. When you’re filling up, the pump also prevents you from overdoing things with its worry-free automatic stop that ceases operations when the proper inflation is met.

This fantastic tire pump can serve as a great safety tool for business travelers. It can also promote exercise and recreation when used to pump up sports balls and bike tires.

The versatility and quality of this small, compact device have added up to make it a hit amongst users and critics alike. It’s even earned a coveted nomination from MoMa Design.

Don’t forget that for a limited time only, this HOTO Air Pump Pro Portable Air Compressor and Tire Inflator is on sale for just $79.99 (reg. $119).

StackSocial prices subject to change.

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