shopping

Holiday Shopping Is Starting Early. Don’t Be Fooled: Dump Department-Store Stocks Soon.

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Bloomingdale’s flagship department store in Manhattan. The chain is owned by Macy’s, whose stock is down 56% this year.


Nina Westervelt/Bloomberg

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Santa’s not a smoker, as far as I know. But he’s old, and his belly shakes when he laughs “like a bowl full of jelly,” according to one poem. Those are risk factors for Covid-19, so I suppose it was inevitable that

Macy’s

said this past week that the bearded gift-giver wouldn’t sit with children at any of its stores for the first time in 159 years.

That’s as good a signal as any for investors who own shares of retailers to contemplate the spending implications of a socially distant Christmas. If a new forecast from UBS has it right, things will look jolly at first, until they don’t, which might provide a selling opportunity in November.

The good news: Retail sales picked up smartly in September, the latest reported month. Joblessness remains high, but many who are working have money to spend, after months of forgoing family trips and meals out.

The National Retail Federation says it is “cautiously optimistic” about fourth-quarter sales, which is like a cheerleading squad that gets the crowd chanting m-a-y-b-e. But UBS analyst Jay Sole published a report this past week predicting that U.S. holiday sales will fall 10% to 12% year over year. If that’s right, depressed store stocks could have further to slide later this year.

The prediction refers specifically to so-called softline goods, like clothing and accessories, not hardlines, like electronics and appliances. It’s based in part on surveys of U.S. shopper intentions. This year, 41% said the economy would affect their holiday spending versus 28% last year. That’s the biggest change since the global financial crisis more than a decade ago. The numbers suggest big shifts toward online shopping and away from department stores, and with fewer customers paying online and then picking goods up in stores.

There is a sharp increase in the number of shoppers who say they will start their holiday shopping by Nov. 1. “Our guess is this demand ‘pull-forward’ will cause early holiday season reads to look good,” Sole writes. “However, we think once retailers start to lap big shopping weeks near Thanksgiving, real-time indicators will weaken, causing stocks to react negatively.” Sole is most bearish on department stores Macy’s (ticker: M),

Nordstrom

(JWN), and

Kohl’s

(KSS). But he’s bullish on brands that can “go it alone” without department stores, like

Levi Strauss

(LEVI),

Nike

(NKE), and

Skechers USA

(SKX).

There are a few big unknowns. The U.S. is experiencing a third major surge in Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. If that trend continues through Christmas, then, well, on Donner, on Blitzen, we’re all in deep you-know-whatzen. Also, part of a summer lift in consumer spending was owed to government stimulus programs to help the needy and support the economy.

We are likely to get more stimulus after the Nov. 3 election, once political calculations subside, because there are no deficit hawks

fashion

Melania Trump’s Fashion Choices Don’t Mean Anything, Report Says

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KEY POINTS

  • Melania Trump doesn’t think of the “why” behind her fashion choices
  • The First Lady told Stephanie Winston Wolkoff that her pink dress wasn’t a nod to gay pride
  • The FLOTUS just laughed off the press’ attempts to decipher the meaning of her wardrobe

Melania Trump just dresses the way she wants without thinking or putting any meaning to her fashion choices.

Vanity Fair’s Kenzie Bryant wrote an article about the First Lady’s outfit saying, “Her clothes don’t mean anything.” She added that while Melania can afford any outfit, she goes for what she looks good in and what she thinks is appropriate for the occasion.

Bryant recalled her previous conversation with “Me and Melania” author Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who revealed that Melania doesn’t put too much thought about the meaning of her wardrobe. 

“Melania doesn’t think about the ‘why’ of her fashion choices and what she is wearing,” Winston Wolkoff told her. “She laughs off the press’s attempts to decipher meaning from her clothing.”

Winston Wolkoff also shared a dialgue she had with Melania in which the latter laughed off an incident involving a reporter who suggested that she was wearing a pink ensemble on one outing as a nod to gay pride.

“They saying, ‘She was wearing that dress because she didn’t say anything about gay parade on Sunday but she wore Monday to give the nod for the gay people,’” Winston Wolkoff said.

“Are you kidding? It never even crossed my mind,” the FLOTUS told her.

Melania’s powder blue Ralph Lauren dress during President Donald Trump’s inauguration is often compared to former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, but Melania downplayed the comparison.

“We are such a different type of women,” Melania said. 

“If you really think about it, right? She was, like, skinny, short, tiny. I’m not that way.”

Melania was asked two decades ago if she could picture herself as the first lady when she spoke with ABC News correspondent Don Dahler for a North Shore Animal League America campaign. She gave a positive response because she is confident in her husband’s leadership skills. Melania said she would support and stand by Trump and even dropped the names of the former first ladies that she wanted to emulate.

“I would be very traditional, like Jackie Kennedy and Betty Ford,” Melania said.

Trump is aiming to be re-elected as the U.S. president and Melania was supposed to join him at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania. However, Melania decided to cancel her attendance due to a lingering cough.

Both the POTUS and FLOTUS tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month. They have already recovered and have already tested negative.

In a rare public statement, US first lady Melania Trump said the allegations about her husband published by The Atlantic magazine -- that he called fallen US Marines "losers" and "suckers" -- were false In a rare public statement, US first lady Melania Trump said the allegations about her husband published by The Atlantic magazine — that he called fallen US Marines “losers” and “suckers” — were false Photo: AFP / SAUL LOEB

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fashion

Melania Trump’s Fashion Choices Don’t Mean Anything, Source Says

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KEY POINTS

  • Melania Trump doesn’t think of the “why” behind her fashion choices
  • The First Lady told Stephanie Winston Wolkoff that her pink dress wasn’t a nod to gay pride
  • The FLOTUS just laughed off the press’ attempts to decipher the meaning of her wardrobe

Melania Trump just dresses the way she wants without thinking or putting any meaning to her fashion choices.

Vanity Fair’s Kenzie Bryant wrote an article about the First Lady’s outfit saying, “Her clothes don’t mean anything.” She added that while Melania can afford any outfit, she goes for what she looks good in and what she thinks is appropriate for the occasion.

Bryant recalled her previous conversation with “Me and Melania” author Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who revealed that Melania doesn’t put too much thought about the meaning of her wardrobe. 

“Melania doesn’t think about the ‘why’ of her fashion choices and what she is wearing,” Winston Wolkoff told her. “She laughs off the press’s attempts to decipher meaning from her clothing.”

Winston Wolkoff also shared a dialgue she had with Melania in which the latter laughed off an incident involving a reporter who suggested that she was wearing a pink ensemble on one outing as a nod to gay pride.

“They saying, ‘She was wearing that dress because she didn’t say anything about gay parade on Sunday but she wore Monday to give the nod for the gay people,’” Winston Wolkoff said.

“Are you kidding? It never even crossed my mind,” the FLOTUS told her.

Melania’s powder blue Ralph Lauren dress during President Donald Trump’s inauguration is often compared to former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, but Melania downplayed the comparison.

“We are such a different type of women,” Melania said. 

“If you really think about it, right? She was, like, skinny, short, tiny. I’m not that way.”

Melania was asked two decades ago if she could picture herself as the first lady when she spoke with ABC News correspondent Don Dahler for a North Shore Animal League America campaign. She gave a positive response because she is confident in her husband’s leadership skills. Melania said she would support and stand by Trump and even dropped the names of the former first ladies that she wanted to emulate.

“I would be very traditional, like Jackie Kennedy and Betty Ford,” Melania said.

Trump is aiming to be re-elected as the U.S. president and Melania was supposed to join him at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania. However, Melania decided to cancel her attendance due to a lingering cough.

Both the POTUS and FLOTUS tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month. They have already recovered and have already tested negative.

In a rare public statement, US first lady Melania Trump said the allegations about her husband published by The Atlantic magazine -- that he called fallen US Marines "losers" and "suckers" -- were false In a rare public statement, US first lady Melania Trump said the allegations about her husband published by The Atlantic magazine — that he called fallen US Marines “losers” and “suckers” — were false Photo: AFP / SAUL LOEB

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women

New help for a health problem women don’t talk about

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In 2004, Gloria Ro Kolb ’94 was leading her first startup, Fossa Medical, which developed therapies for kidney stones, when she learned a startling statistic: one in three women over 30 deals with urinary incontinence. However, it wasn’t until Kolb had three kids that she began to understand the scope of the problem—and the need for a better solution. “I looked into all the treatment options and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s got to be something better,’” she recalls. So she took matters into her own hands by founding the medical-device company Elidah.

Traditional treatments for urinary incontinence in women have been limited to pelvic floor exercises, invasive devices, or—in extreme cases—surgery. Moreover, many women are hesitant to discuss the issue with a doctor. “Women wait so long that it gets harder and harder for them to treat conservatively, and it really does start to affect their quality of life,” Kolb explains.

With Kolb as CEO, the Connecticut-based company has developed Elitone, a noninvasive device composed of a small electrical controller connected to a gel pad. The device, typically worn for 20 minutes four to five days a week, decreases bladder leaks by stimulating and strengthening a woman’s pelvic floor muscles—essentially doing Kegel exercises for her, but longer and stronger than she could, Kolb explains.  

Elitone was cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2019 for both prescription and over-the-counter use. “Two-thirds of women won’t talk to their doctor about this—that’s how secret and private it is—so we wanted to reach out to the women directly,” Kolb says. “This is a new and growing category of direct-to-consumer medical devices.”

While FDA approval is a big milestone, Kolb finds the most satisfaction in emails from women describing their return to daily activities like dancing or running. “This is why we do what we do—because it helps,” she says. Now, the company is developing a version of Elitone for the related issue of overactive bladder. It is also investigating whether a similar device can be developed for men. 

“MIT is a good foundation for figuring out how to do things well and how to do them on your own,” says Kolb, who majored in mechanical engineering. At Elidah, she has taken on everything from designing and building prototypes to writing patents and regulatory documents. And she is eager for more opportunities to invent as she remains focused on her overarching goal: “Helping as many people as I can with the products that I make.”

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women

Women’s March Doesn’t Respect Women Who Don’t Think Like Them

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Women’s March activists participate in a nationwide protest against President Trump’s decision to fill the seat on the Supreme Court before the 2020 election, in Washington, October 17, 2020. (Michael A. McCoy/Reuters)

Over the weekend, Independent Women’s Forum, in partnership with Independent Women’s Voice, planned an event to give voice to all the women who aren’t represented by the Women’s March. We talked to the property authorities to make sure we were following the rules so that we could lawfully gather outside of the Supreme Court. We showed up early on Saturday morning to set up a stage and podium, and set up materials, including face masks, buttons, signs, hand sanitizers, and social distancing spots to guide people to stay safe during the event. We lined up an impressive group of women to share their different perspectives.

We knew other groups were also planning to gather in front of the Supreme Court, with a variety of perspectives and in support of different causes. We’d been informed that the space was first-come-first-serve but were told we needed to be respectful of others. So we showed up early to claim a good space, but were also prepared to make room for others.

When our event kicked off at 1 p.m., it started out smoothly. Tammy Bruce was emceeing the event and she made note of the other groups around us, including the Black Lives Matter crowd that had begun to gather. She noted that we may not agree on everything, but also probably did have some common ground.

The Black Lives Matter crowd began playing music, a man with a mic led chants, and it got louder and louder. That was frustrating — it seemed that their intention was to drown us out — but we kept going in spite of the noise.

During remarks from Hollywood actress Kristy Swanson, who has lost work because she dared to be an independent woman who speaks and thinks for herself, the man at the BLM rally with the mic said, “That wasn’t loud enough, she didn’t stop talking.” As our event was nearing the end, participants in the Women’s March and BLM descended on our space. They were not interested in respecting the rights of those already there. They crowded into where we had gathered, aggressively confronted those there in support of our cause, and displayed signs and swag, a sad proportion of which were profane and vulgar. Displaying such signs and images is their constitutional right, but it was certainly unwelcomed, especially by those who had brought children to the event.

Our speakers tried to carry on, but we realized it was useless. As our last speaker wrapped up, a member of the Women’s March pushed her way onto our stage. Others pushed to the front where we had gathered, many yelling curses at our staff. The whole concept of “social distancing,” which we had worked to respect since we have some higher-risk colleagues who had wanted to attend, was thrown out the

shopping

Don’t wait until the last minute to do holiday shopping, experts warn

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  • Last-minute holiday shopping may be more difficult than ever before this year due to shipping delays, low inventory, and fewer last-minute deals than in previous years. 
  • Shipping companies told The Wall Street Journal that they are already at capacity ahead of the holidays, a trend that industry experts are referring to as “shipageddon.”
  • Beyond shipping woes, customers may have trouble finding the gifts they want, as retailers are scaling back on inventory to avoid ending up with a surplus after the holidays are over. This could also result in fewer last-minute deals.
  • Additionally, retailers are unlikely to offer enticing in-store sales to avoid customers arriving in droves. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

For last-minute holiday shoppers, this year’s shopping season may post unprecedented challenges.

With another month to go before holiday shopping is in full swing, experts are warning that customers may face a string of obstacles, from shipping delays to inventory issues to fewer last-minute deals than previous years. The issues are a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has stretched the retail and shipping industries to a breaking point throughout the last eight months.

According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal’s Paul Ziobro, major shipping companies like FedEx and UPS are advising retailers that they are nearly or entirely out of capacity in advance of the holiday shopping season. The United States Postal Service has already been stretched thin during the pandemic and is likely facing an onslaught of mail-in ballots ahead of Election Day. Smaller firms, like DHL and LaserShip, told the Journal that their shipping capacity is already booked and that they won’t be taking on new customers until after the holidays. 

This could result in shipping delays for customers hoping to get their packages in time for the holidays, which industry experts are referring to as “shipageddon.”

“Consumers should be prepared for deliveries to take extra days no matter which carrier is delivering their parcels,” Satish Jindel, president of ShipMatrix, a software company that tracks shipping data, told the Journal. 

Jindel told the Journal that ShipMatrix estimates that 86.3 million packages will be looking for space between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but that the shipping industry’s total capacity will be 79.1 million parcels per day. That means there will be an excess of about 7 million packages per day that the industry doesn’t have the capacity to ship.

Beyond shipping woes, however, customers may have trouble finding the items they want in the first place.

According to Jason Goldberg, the chief commerce strategy officer at advertising firm Publicis who runs the site Retail Geek, retailers have scaled back on inventory to avoid ending up with a surplus after the holidays are over. For customers, this could mean that the gifts they were hoping to buy may be in short supply, Goldberg wrote in Forbes.

Less inventory could also mean fewer deals for shoppers, as retailers are unlikely to offer last-minute discounts before Christmas if they’re already running low on supply,

wedding

Udit Narayan opens up on son Aditya’s wedding to Shweta Agarwal; says, “If something happens, don’t blame the parents”

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Image Source – Instagram

Actor-singer and host Aditya Narayan had recently confirmed that he is all set to marry his longtime girlfriend Shweta Agarwal. The couple has been in a relationship for almost a decade and they are now all set to settle down for good.

Surprisingly, reacting to Aditya’s decision to marry Shweta, Udit Narayan said that he was a little shocked. Not only that, Udit has even told Aditya that if something goes wrong in the future then parents shouldn’t be blamed.

In an interview with Dainik Bhaskar, Udit said that he has known Shweta for many years but only as Aditya’s friend. So he was a little shocked when Aditya told him that he wants to marry Shweta. “I have known Shweta for many years but only as a friend of my son. Aditya came to me one day and told me that he wants to marry Shweta. I just told Aditya that if something happens later, don’t blame the parents,” Udit told Dainik Bhaskar.

Aditya recently told SpotBoyE that he will be taking the plunge with Shweta on December 1. And Udit is now hoping that by the December end the Coronavirus situation will come under control so that he can enjoy his only son’s wedding. “I wanted to celebrate Aditya’s wedding in a grand manner and call many people. But I will not go against the decision of the government. I hope that the situation will be cured by December so that I can enjoy my only son’s marriage,” the veteran singer told the daily

Aditya and Shweta are opting for an intimate wedding at a temple with only their immediate family in attendance. Now we are looking forward to this lovely’s couple’s wedding. And for more such interesting updates, stay tuned to Bollywood Bubble.

Also Read: Heard this? Aditya Narayan is all set to marry his longtime girlfriend Shweta Agarwal

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women

UMass says NCAA’s penalties to men’s basketball, women’s tennis teams don’t match the violations

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The University of Massachusetts athletic department has acknowledged overpaying 12 athletes about $9,100 in financial aid from 2014-2017, but disagrees with the NCAA’s decision Friday to strip the school of 59 men’s basketball victories and an Atlantic 10 Conference championship in women’s tennis.

Director of athletics Ryan Bamford said UMass was willing to accept a $5,000 fine and year of probation, but the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions rejected that and instead included vacated wins as part of the penalty. UMass, which was also placed on probation through October 2022, plans to appeal.

“This outcome today, the overreach by the NCAA, are penalties that are not proportionate to the violations,” Bamford said. “Especially the vacation of wins and the vacation of records. It penalizes student-athletes and coaches that to this day don’t know that we had over-rewarded them financially.”

After a three-year investigation, the NCAA concluded that four UMass athletes — all basketball players — received a higher housing payment after they moved to less-expensive off-campus housing. Eight other athletes — six basketball players and two tennis players — continued to receive a dorm phone stipend after they moved off campus. One athlete received both.

Bamford said the total cost of infractions for the two women’s tennis players was $252.

UMass said it reported the violations in the spring of 2017 after self-investigating possible low-level violations that occurred under former men’s basketball coach Derek Kellogg. Over the last three years, Bamford said the NCAA interviewed coaches, student-athletes, and staff members as the two sides tried to negotiate a resolution.

The COI rejected an original agreement between UMass and the NCAA because it did not include vacated results, and then sent the case back to its enforcement division to hold a hearing for more penalties.

“Vacation is intended as an institutional penalty to address unearned competitive or recruiting advantages,” Bamford said. “In this case we did neither. We made unintentional mistakes. We gained no advantage in recruiting, no advantage in competition.”

According to the NCAA report, a former associate athletics director’s misunderstanding of financial aid rules and administrative error resulted in the violations. The committee did not find a failure to monitor infractions because 98 percent of the time during the period where the overpayments occurred, UMass appropriately distributed financial aid.

Atlantic 10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade said the set of penalties was unfortunate for an administrative mistake that could be classified as minor.

“To have a set of student-athletes that had no involvement in a mistake that has been acknowledged and to penalize them by the vacation of contests seems inordinately punitive,” McGlade said. “These 12 student-athletes received an overage that essentially wasn’t tracked but it was attributed to a qualified university expenditure. It’s very disappointing and I think it’s something we need to address as an association.”

Dave Roberts, the COI chief hearings officer and special assistant to the athletic director at Southern California, said previous case precedent based on ineligible participation by athletes led to the penalty.

The COI’s ruling

fashion

Oregon WBB’s Kelly Graves on coach fashion: “You don’t want to go all ‘Wayne Tinkle’”

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The NBA bubble has brought an important topic of conversation to the table: coach fashion.

The bubble allowed for coaches and their staff to sport a polo rather than a full suit and tie on game days, which is the rule. The temperature inside an NBA arena, especially down on the court, combined with yelling and a rapid heart rate can call for some serious perspiration during the game. Just ask Oregon State men’s basketball head coach Wayne Tinkle, who went viral for ‘pitting out’ in a light blue long sleeve button up during a game:

Luckily, Oregon women’s basketball head coach Kelly Graves, who considers himself a fashion trendsetter, offers up some advice for his friend 45 minutes North on the I-5 freeway.

“We call that Jordan, ‘Going Wayne Tinkle’. You don’t want to go all ‘Wayne Tinkle’. I can say that because I love the guy. I coached his daughter Elle at Gonzaga. 

Go with a dark shirt and you’re good to go big guy.

Oregon women’s basketball coach Kelly Graves

Watch more in the video above.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest former Oregon wide receiver Keenan Howry].

The fashion guru himself consistently sports an Oregon polo, black slacks and some sweet Nike shoes. In his mind, his number might be called on at any moment and he wants to be ready.

“I am a fashion trendsetter there’s no question about that,” said Oregon head coach Kelly Graves on the latest Talkin’ Ducks. “Come on man, we’re Oregon and we set the trends down here. It just makes it so much more comfortable, believe me. Everything is done for you and we get a chance to show off our great Nike gear especially those shoes.”

 

Every coach I talk to after we play them, they always comment on our casual attire and I say, ‘Well, you guys should do it!’ And a few have here and there but they stick with the old jacket and tie. When you dress comfortably, you feel like you can be out there in a defensive stance. 

Oregon women’s basketball coach Kelly Graves

These might be the shoes Graves is talking about:

When all is said and done, you won’t see Graves ‘pitting out’ on the sidelines.

Listen to the Talkin’ Ducks Podcast here.

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fashion

Don’t Let Amazon’s Cheap Fashion Fool You

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Illustration for article titled Dont Let Amazons Cheap Fashion Fool You

Screenshot: Amazon

I have spent an ungodly amount of time the past two days on Amazon, curating this cursed blog of bad Prime Day deals. A lot of these terrible deals are on extremely ugly pieces of clothing that the seller likely just needed to get rid of. I screen-capped and dropped several of these examples into our Gizmodo Slack, where I learned that I work with real people who buy their clothes off Amazon.

My initial reaction was utter shock. I’m not trying to sound elitist—it’s just that Amazon clothing is not what I associate with quality. I associate it with ill-fitting clothes that are also an eyesore, and will probably disintegrate after one or two washes. To be clear, I’m not talking about the recognizable brands that happen to have Amazon shops. I’m talking about the weird ones you’ve never heard of before with suspiciously cheap clothes. Buying from dubious sellers on Amazon just seemed like a bridge too far—surely, surely, it was a minefield of poorly made fakes that are also unforgivably hideous, right?

Illustration for article titled Dont Let Amazons Cheap Fashion Fool You

I set out to prove a point with this blog: Don’t buy your clothes on Amazon. But then something strange happened. If you stare at hundreds, perhaps thousands of listings, for clothes on Amazon, they all start to blend together. You start to lose your sense of what is or isn’t hideous, as well as what’s a scam, and what’s a legitimate deal. Maybe that typography apron with the horrible joke is actually OK. Is this cowboy jacket actually ugly, or am I just being judgmental? Maybe a gigantic camo Blanket Hoodie Sweatshirt that costs $40 isn’t bad at all. I thought I’d gotten my wedding dress cheap at $200, but maybe I should have gotten one of those sub-$100 wedding dresses on Amazon. Who am I, really, to judge if these elf boots are cute or something no one should ever be caught dead in, much less for $53.74?

As it turns out, earlier this year, Amazon actually overtook Walmart as the biggest clothing retailer in the U.S.—especially among millennials. I suppose that makes sense. As shitty of a company Amazon is, my colleagues swear that it’s extremely convenient to buy basics off Amazon whilst shopping for other random stuff. My coworker Catie Keck recommends Amazon as a great place for $15 leggings and leisurewear. Fellow reporter Shoshana Wodinsky swore up and down by knockoff Lululemon sports bras, going so far as to say Amazon is the best place to buy sports bras. On TikTok, there’s a whole subcategory of influencers who tell you the products you absolutely need to buy on Amazon and quality dupes for expensive brands. I consider myself a savvy shopper, so this triggered an existential crisis. I was ready to throw in the towel and admit that I was wrong.

This...is hideous right?

This…is hideous right?
Screenshot: Amazon

And then I ran straight into COOFANDY’s store and saw a