Photo by Salt Water New England

Friday, December 11, 2015

How Communities End.


Culturally, many clothing companies, such as L.L. Bean and J. Press, have shifted their focus significantly to customers on the political right, just as many of their “Preppy” and “Ivy” fan sites have, to take advantage of high volumes of very vocal, online supporters with more flexible quality standards.

Consider L.L. Bean.  Quoted in many publications including The New York Times:
[A]ccording to new information from Christopher Wylie, the Cambridge Analytica whistle-blower,  “Fashion data was used to build AI models to help Steve Bannon build his insurgency and build the alt-right”... 
He mentioned Wrangler and L.L. Bean in particular as brands that Cambridge Analytica aligned with conservative traits. 
- Cambridge Analytica Used Fashion Tastes to Identify Right-Wing Voters, <https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/29/style/cambridge-analytica-fashion-data.html>
This is not how it was.  The enduring companies have always grown through a balanced clientele. For decades the best of both political sides, including right-leaning hunters and left-leaning environmentalists,  shaped Beans.  Now social media affiliation with L.L. Bean is an indicator of an ideal prospect for violent "alt-right" (Wylie) communities.  When L.L. Bean eliminated their guarantee, the right wing commentators dedicated countless hours to dominating the discussion threads in support of their decision. 

In this "right-shift" deal, vendors can sell symbols of class with high profit margins. This race to the bottom has been pioneered in their fan sites, which have for years been shifting "preppy" or "Ivy style" to mean birthers wearing bow ties and Bean boots. 

 But the fan sites have also shown the limitation of the right-shift strategy.  Said one reader of an online community:  “I had to leave one site.  To me, preppy and Ivy style means fighting extremists, not sucking up to them.” 

Mutual backslapping with racist hate groups, clumsily stealing content for credibility, pandering to people with endless free time, and attacking truth tellers is how real “Ivy style” and “Preppy” die.