The Fashion Issue

Joshua Neuman prods our layered relationships with clothing and consumption.

Not too long after we decided to dedicate an issue to exploring our relationship with clothes, a book crossed our path that seemed to encapsulate much of our thinking on the subject, while also challenging many of our core assumptions. Worn Stories by Emily Spivack is a collection of some 60 odd, clothing-inspired narratives from an array of cultural figures and storytellers that testify to the incredible role clothes can play in our lives. When reading the book in the context of the damaging effects of fast fashion and its eco-friendly alternatives, we noticed ourselves thinking a lot less about the clothes we ought to consume and much more about the relationship we ought to have with our clothing. The book has sage advice for our times: Stop your shopping spree, slow down, and learn to develop real relationships with the clothing you wear. We here at GOOD are clearly not the first to wonder whether fashion might be following the way of the slow food movement, but reading Worn Stories, we found a bold and prophetic path that could lead us in that direction.

We were tickled silly when Spivack agreed to guest edit GOOD’s first-ever fashion issue. She set the tone for the issue by inviting a group of her friends in and around the fashion industry to speculate about the murky future of fashion in our second GOOD Dinnertime Conversation.

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Features

I Am Not Your Inspiration

The GOOD 2015 Special Olympics Preview

In 1993 Charles Barkley famously claimed that professional athletes weren’t role models. “Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids,” he argued. Of course, Barkley’s argument was hardly an empirical one: Basketball players are role models, have been role models, and will continue to be role models. His point was that there was something messed up about the way we glorify professional athletes.

The same can be said today of how we treat Special Olympics athletes who we may not treat as role models, but as inspirations. Their stories may uplift us, but their triumphs of will demand a more serious assessment and a better appreciation of their skills. Yes, these athletes have inspired us and will continue to inspire us, but that inspiration shouldn’t define them as who they are. The following preview of the 2015 World Games kicking off today in Los Angeles and running through August 2nd is driven by the assumption that the athletes competing in the 47th annual Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles be treated as athletes, rather than as lovable human-interest stories.

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Failure & Success

Digging at the roots of the cultural fascination with failure.

While we were working on this issue, there was an incredible scene on Mike Judge’s Silicon Valley that spoofed the current day cult of failure. In describing the ongoing tribulations of his technology company, CEO Gavin Belson proclaimed: “What those in dying business sectors call failure, we in tech know to be pre-greatness.” He uttered these words in front of a screen that spelled out his point in no uncertain terms: “Failure equals success.” Those listening nodded intently as if Belson were a Zen master.

The idea of failure has been in flux throughout human history. Whether linked to sin (Judeo-Christianity), ignorance (the Enlightenment), or abnormality (modernity), societies have continually propped up distinct notions of failure to bolster corresponding notions of success. But something strange has happened in recent years: Instead of propping up success, failure now seems to be competing with it. Throughout our culture, we find failure being celebrated as if it were a virtue. According to Oprah, it is a “stepping stone to greatness.” J.K. Rowling claims that it comes with “fringe benefits.” And all over the business world, it is positioned as the unmistakable key to unlocking human excellence. “It’s fine to celebrate success,” remarked Bill Gates. “But it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

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Features

Are Poop Puns the New Ice Buckets?

Celebrating the Grand Poobah of Poop on World Toilet Day

Photo by Lauren Ishak

The distinct smell of human excrement was in the internet air today in honor of U.N. World Toilet Day. Irony of ironies, VICE waxed earnest about the event with an op-ed entitled “Today Is UN World Toilet Day — and It’s No Laughing Matter.” Elsewhere, the online conversation seemed to indicate otherwise: The global sanitation crisis seemed very much a laughing matter.

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Articles

File Under DUH: A More Civil Workplace Boosts Creativity

A new study probes what happens when the workplace is informed by “political correctness.”

What if instead of using the phrase “politically-correct” we just used the word “civility”? Would it strip the former phrase of anything other than its crude and irrational cultural associations? Would it do any harm to the truth? These are ginormous questions for another day, but if one thing’s for sure, if we used the word civility in the place of politically-correct we likely wouldn’t need Cornell University’s recent 46-page study bravely debunking the notion that “imposing a norm to be politically correct (PC)” among men and women in the workplace would “necessarily stifle creativity.” Who would’ve thought that professional cultures promoting civility between men and women wouldn’t transform them into desolate automatons content to dither away the workday building rubber band balls, reading CNN headlines, and steadily drooling?

The study, published in the journal Administrative Science Quarterly, chronicles two experiments conducted with 582 subjects in mixed-sex brainstorming sessions: one in which they’re instructed to be politically correct and one in which they’re not. In an unforeseeable twist of fate, the groups that consistently generated the most creative and innovative business ideas were the ones that discouraged inappropriate banter, gender-biased language and sexist stereotypes.

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Articles

Photo by James Flores / Getty Images

The NFL finally seems to be coming to terms with the extent of damage that playing football does to its players. Last month, the league acknowledged that one in three players will experience long-term cognitive problems due to brain trauma—as if neurological research, university-funded studies, and actuarial estimates were needed to prove that the violent collision of two heads could cause brain damage. The league is also increasingly enforcing a spate of new penalties to protect defenseless players from taking hits above their shoulders. In essence, the NFL has decided to legislate around the act of tackling—there are safe and unsafe ways of doing so, the logic goes.

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