What in the World—Week of October 23

Kardashian launches Skims for men

Kim Kardashian’s $4-billion shapewear/underwear brand Skims is introducing men’s underwear, T-shirts and leggings. This week’s launch is being accompanied by an ad campaign featuring athletes including Brazilian soccer star Neymar, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a Canadian rising star for the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder.

“The men’s category as a whole has really been a race to the bottom, of multi-packs and discounts,” Skims CEO and co-founder Jens Grede told The Wall Street Journal. “We’re trying to excel and show men that there’s just a different level of comfort and performance you can have in your first layer.”

Kardashian originally launched Skims in 2019 with lingerie and compression shapewear in a range of nude tones. Four years later, it has a $4 billion valuation, projected sales of $750 million this year, and will open its first brick-and-mortar stores in New York and L.A. next year.

Is it goodbye for Hello Bello?

Meanwhile, another celebrity-backed consumer brand, Hello Bello, is filing for bankruptcy protection, with plans to sell to a private equity firm.

The baby care company was launched by Kristen Bell and her husband Dax Shepard in 2019. The line includes diapers, wipes, and cleaning products, with an emphasis on organic botanicals and plant-based ingredients. The line was introduced to Canada in 2020, with most products priced under $10.

The move to seek protection from creditors until the brand can be sold is being seen as more evidence of consumer brands struggling with high inflation and interest rates.

“Given macroeconomic trends, including inflation and increased shipping costs, we believe that this course of action is the best path forward to ensure that Hello Bello continues to bring families the highest quality and most environmentally friendly products at affordable prices,” said Erica Buxton, CEO of Hello Bello.

When workplace wellness is NSFW

AirAsia founder and CEO Tony Fernandes, sometimes referred to as the “Richard Branson of Asia,” was in pain after an 18-hour flight last week, so he got a massage. During a management meeting. Without a shirt on. He then posted a photo to LinkedIn.

Fernandes thought it was simply an example of the company’s open and caring culture. “Got to love Indonesia and AirAsia culture that I can have a massage and do a management meeting,” he said in the post, as reported by Bloomberg.

But, unsurprisingly, others did not see it that way—it drew criticism instead, and was soon pulled down. “I don’t think the women in your company would feel comfortable or safe in this context, and given you’re the boss, they likely won’t challenge you or say anything,” said Rebecca Nadillo, a strategy and branding executive with previous stints at Meta and ad agency BBDO, on LinkedIn.

Starbucks in a new labour dispute… over Israel and Gaza

Starbucks is in a new fight with its union, but this time it’s not about benefits or hourly wages—it’s over the conflict in Gaza and Israel, reports Quartz.

On Oct. 9, just two days after Hamas terrorists attacked civilians in Israel, the Starbucks Workers United union posted (and then deleted) an image of a bulldozer tearing down part of the wall between Israel and Gaza, along with the caption “Solidarity with Palestine,” while local chapters have promoted pro-Palestine rallies.

Starbucks says its business is suffering because of the union position, and is facing calls for a boycott. After first filing a cease-and-desist demanding the union stop using the company name and images that resemble the logo, the company filed a lawsuit.

The union responded with a lawsuit of its own, saying the company was defaming the union, and that the unauthorized tweet, which was taken down after 40 minutes, did not indicate that the union supports terrorism.

Daily Wire launches anti “woke” kids brand

The founders of conservative media company The Daily Wire are so mad at Disney for being “woke” that they have launched a new streaming app for kids entertainment content called Bentkey.

The Daily Wire co-CEO Jeremy Boreing first announced the plan in the spring, pledging to commit $100 million on content over three years. “Americans are tired of giving their money to woke corporations who hate them,” said Boreing at the time, referring to Disney’s opposition to Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

The new app, with a launch price of $99 per year in the U.S., has 150 episodes from 18 shows, four of which are original— including Chip and Chilla, about a family of homeschooled chinchillas. In a video announcing the launch, Boreing again called out Disney, accusing it of pushing “all the worst excesses of the woke left.”

David Brown