What cool means today

💡 The Big Idea

In 2020, it’s cool to care. And the changing nature of cool is affecting what shoppers buy, who they follow, and how companies behave.

Here’s the TLDR to our field guide on the new meaning of cool.

Read the rest of this story on qz.com. Become a member to get unlimited access to Quartz’s journalism.


Go to Source
Author: Quartz Staff

How Black Americans have shaped cool globally

On New Year’s Eve, 1962, a 13-year-old named Valery Saifudinov took the stage with his band at a party in Latvia’s capital city Riga, then still under Soviet control. In front of a crowd of several hundred factory workers, they launched into covers of songs by artists such as Chuck Berry and Little Richard—Black Americans who, along with forebears like Sister Rosetta Tharpe, created rock ‘n’ roll. The crowd loved it.

“The whole city was talking about rock ‘n’ roll,” Saifudinov, who would ultimately move to California, told the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2012. By the time of that performance, rock records had been circulating in the Soviet Union, despite authorities restricting them. They feared what the music represented: It was new, dangerous, and rebellious—in a word, cool. In the years that followed, rock music would become so popular debates persist over whether it stoked dissent that helped destabilize the Soviet regime.

Culture is one of America’s most powerful means of exerting its influence in the world, and in ways large and small, Black Americans have shaped that culture. They’ve held an outsized sway on what the US, and consequently much of the globe, deems cool.

Read the rest of this story on qz.com. Become a member to get unlimited access to Quartz’s journalism.


Go to Source
Author: Marc Bain

What “cool” originally sounded like

“Cool” is one of those words so liberally used its definition has become fuzzy around the edges. We know shoppers chase it and companies try to sell it. Generally speaking it indicates something positive, but with a range of connotations including stylish, original, authentic, rebellious, and more.

Originally, though, it had a slightly different meaning. Jazz musician Lester Young coined this usage of cool, unrelated to temperature, in the late 1930s. “When Young said, ‘I’m cool’ or ‘that’s cool,’ he meant ‘I’m calm,’ ‘I’m OK with that,’ or just ‘I’m keeping it together,’” professor and author Joel Dinerstein wrote in his book The Origins of Cool in Postwar America. The modern equivalent might be more like “chill.” For jazz musicians throughout the 1940s and 1950s, this attitude would translate into a sound marked by relaxed intensity and an emphasis on expressing one’s personal style.

To understand this early concept of cool, there’s no better method than listening to it. We asked Dinerstein to create a playlist for Quartz. He obliged, putting together this list of tracks representing the original sound of cool as it first evolved in jazz.

Read the rest of this story on qz.com. Become a member to get unlimited access to Quartz’s journalism.


Go to Source
Author: Marc Bain

Can Supreme survive its acquisition by VF Corp?

Chatter among fashion followers went into overdrive yesterday when VF Corp.—owner of brands such as Vans, The North Face, Timberland, and Dickies—announced it would acquire streetwear pioneer Supreme for $2.1 billion.

For Supreme, the move could hardly seem more opposed to its ethos. Since its origin as a single New York shop selling to the local skate community, its success has been based on its independent and uncompromising attitude as much as keeping demand high and supply low by releasing weekly drops of new products in small quantities. It was already a surprise when founder James Jebbia sold half the business in 2017 to private-equity firm Carlyle Group. To now have a large, publicly traded conglomerate take over was even more of a shock.

It raises the question of whether Supreme can endure, or if the brand will lose the elements that made it desirable in the first place. Jebbia himself once told the New York Times Supreme “needs to be cool to survive.” The short answer is the brand probably can survive, depending how you define cool.

Read the rest of this story on qz.com. Become a member to get unlimited access to Quartz’s journalism.


Go to Source
Author: Marc Bain