Monday. 11/11/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Jamie Waters

Blank expressions

Last week, Gauthier Borsarello (pictured), a menswear aficionado who runs the Parisian vintage shop Le Vif, posted a photo on his Instagram. Its caption read: “The word ‘vintage’ is dead. It has been so overused it’s become meaningless. I will not use it any more to define what I do.”

It was an incisive comment on buzzwords. Fashion, like other industries such as food and film, loves a quick, sellable phrase. To “vintage” we can add “sustainability”, “seasonless”, “concept store” and “experience” as terms that have been bandied about ad nauseum in recent years. There have always been concepts that are particularly popular at any moment, yet social media, which thrives on punchy captions and pithy hashtags, surely means labels become exhausted quicker now than ever.

The thing is, many of these words du jour denote important ideas. Fashion brands should be engaging with “sustainable” practices; physical retailers should be offering interesting “experiences” if they’re to entice shoppers away from their laptops. The key is to actually do these things rather than merely use the words connected to them as selling ploys – or maybe we just need to come up with some alternative jargon.

Society / Berlin

Living history

It would have been hard to miss this weekend’s major anniversary: Germany’s capital celebrated 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. We won’t restate the significance here (for that you can listen to the first in a four-part series of The Foreign Desk). But for those who were unable to make it to Berlin to mark the milestone, might we proffer some year-round Wall-related tips? Top among them is the Berlin Wall Memorial Museum on Bernauer Strasse, a street that – along with its community – was divided by the barrier. The museum does an excellent job of having Berliners tell their stories in recorded interviews. In nearby Nordbahnhof there is a small memorial to “ghost” subway stations (and those who tried to escape through them). And be sure to visit Hohenschönhausen too. At the former Stasi prison you can join a moving tour led by people who spent time in its interrogation rooms. History is still very much alive in Berlin; be sure to visit before the people who lived it have passed on.

Culture / China

Press stop

China’s “tiger mums” will be relieved to hear that a nationwide limit has been set on the amount of time that young people spend playing video games. The move was imposed to curb video-game addiction, which officials say is a cause of poor academic performance among the nation’s youth. Those under the age of 18 will be banned from playing video games for any more than 90 minutes on weekdays and three hours per day on weekends; they will also be forbidden from going online between 22.00 and 08.00. China’s gaming industry is one of the world’s largest: it generates more than €30bn a year, even though sales of titles deemed too violent are blocked.

Technology companies are also encouraged to help spread “cultural values” aligned with the Communist party. There’s no telling whether imposing strict regulations will stop savvy teens from finding ways to punch and click; using a parent’s identification is one loophole – but you didn’t hear it from us.

Food / New York

A licence to grill?

State legislators in New York have announced plans to prohibit some local governments from capping the number of pop-up food vendors operating within their boundaries. If successful the legislation will pave the way for pavements across the state to be taken over by food trucks. But the hospitality industry and existing businesses are calling for limits to remain. Their concerns are valid: cities need to balance temporary vendors (who add colour and contribute to street life) with the needs of bricks-and-mortar businesses, ensuring that the latter can remain competitive and that city footpaths aren’t cluttered with coffee carts. If lawmakers feel there’s a demand (and space) for more kerbside food, they might be better off gradually increasing the number of licences available – that’s one way to avoid an all-out food fight.

Media / Las Vegas

New lines of communication

There’ll be a new show in town in the City of Lights tomorrow – but Mariah Carey at The Colosseum it is not. The FIPP World Congress 2019 kicks off in Las Vegas’s Planet Hollywood and Monocle’s editor in chief Tyler Brûlé is among an auspicious programme of speakers that includes the top movers and shakers from media organisations around the world. FIPP is a global media-trade association. In times gone by, competition between different media organisations might have been fierce but today, as FIPP’s president and CEO James Hewes explained to Monocle24’s The Stack, there’s value in pulling together. “We try to take the learnings and case studies that our members bring to us about the changes that are happening in their businesses, and share them with the rest of the membership so that everybody can learn together.” We’ll certainly be taking notes.

M24 / The Menu

Range of recipes

Meredith Erickson talks us through her new cookbook, which concerns the peak of Alpine cooking. Plus: Berlin’s unique Thai market and why some of the world’s best sourdough bread emerges from the Poilâne bakery in Paris.

Monocle Films / Global

Healthy income

As the fitness business pulls in new and inventive players, how can cities encourage their citizens to live healthier lives?

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