Buzz Bissinger: Addicted to Gucci

Buzz Bissinger is a sick man with an addiction for Gucci products. He owns a $5,000 pair of pants and a $22,000 coat. He reveals his confession in this GQ piece.

I have an addiction. It isn’t drugs or gambling: I get to keep what I use after I use it. But there are similarities: the futile feeding of the bottomless beast and the unavoidable psychological implications, the immediate hit of the new that feels like an orgasm and the inevitable coming-down. 

It started three years ago. I have never fully revealed it, and am only revealing it now in the hopes that my confession will incite a remission and perhaps help others of similar compulsion. If all I buy is Gucci, I will be fine. It has taken a while to figure out what works and what doesn’t work, but Gucci men’s clothing best represents who I want to be and have become—rocker, edgy, tight, bad boy, hip, stylish, flamboyant, unafraid, raging against the conformity that submerges us into boredom and blandness and the sexless saggy sackcloths that most men walk around in like zombies without the cinematic excitement of engorging flesh. 

I own eighty-one leather jackets, seventy-five pairs of boots, forty-one pairs of leather pants, thirty-two pairs of haute couture jeans, ten evening jackets, and 115 pairs of leather gloves. Those who conclude from this that I have a leather fetish, an extreme leather fetish, get a grand prize of zero. And those who are familiar with my choices will sign affidavits attesting to the fact that I wear leather every day. The self-expression feels glorious, an indispensable part of me. As a stranger said after admiring my look in a Gucci burgundy jacquard velvet jacket and a Burberry black patent leather trench, “You don’t give a fuck.”

I don’t. I finally don’t.

Some of the clothing is men’s. Some is women’s. I make no distinction. Men’s fashion is catching up, with high-end retailers such as Gucci and Burberry and Versace finally honoring us. But women’s fashion is still infinitely more interesting and has an unfair monopoly on feeling sexy, and if the clothing you wear makes you feel the way you want to feel, liberated and alive, then fucking wear it. The opposite, to repress yourself as I did for the first fifty-five years of my life, is the worst price of all to pay. The United States is a country that has raged against enlightenment since 1776; puritanism, the guiding lantern, has cast its withering judgment on anything outside the narrow societal mainstream. Think it’s easy to be different in America? Try something as benign as wearing stretch leather leggings or knee-high boots if you are a man.

Bissinger is the author of Friday Night Lights, and he delivers in passages like this in the piece:

Clothing became my shot glass, another round, Net-a-Porter. But too often hits wear off, and the laws of supply and demand for an addict are pretty simple: You replenish. And replenish. And replenish. You fool yourself at certain times into thinking that’s it and you have quenched the beast. But the beast is never conquered, and you don’t really want to conquer the beast anyway, until there is disaster. I wasn’t mainlining heroin, just impossibly gorgeous leather jackets and coats and boots and gloves and evening jackets. I wasn’t harming myself or anyone else. I was spending enormous amounts of money, but because I make a good living and received a generous inheritance from my parents, there was no threat of going broke.

Fascinating (in a twisted way).

Naughty in Name Only: Sophia Amoruso’s Nasty Gal

I don’t really follow fashion trends, but I appreciate great stories when I read about the industry. The New York Times profiles Sophia Amoruso and the fashion company she founded, Nasty Gal:

“People say: ‘Nasty Gal? What’s that?’ ” Ms. Amoruso, now 28, said in an interview at her new headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. “I tell them, ‘It’s the fastest-growing retailer in the country.’ ”

Back in 2006, she toyed with the idea of going to photography school, but couldn’t stomach the debt. Instead, she quit her job and started an eBay page to sell some of the vintage designer items she found rummaging through Goodwill bins. She bought a Chanel jacket at a Salvation Army store for $8 and sold it for $1,000. She found Yves Saint Laurent clothing online on the cheap by Googling misspellings of the designer’s name, reasoning that anyone who didn’t know how to spell Yves Saint Laurent probably didn’t realize his value.

She styled, photographed, captioned and shipped each product herself and sold about 25 items a week. She named the eBay page “Nasty Gal” after the 1975 album by Betty Davis — not the smoky-eyed film star Bette Davis, but the unabashedly sexy funk singer and style icon Betty, whose brief marriage to the jazz legend Miles Davis inspired the song “Back Seat Betty.”

Now this is an example of a loyal fan base:

That constant conversation with customers created a loyal following. Nasty Gal has no marketing team, but fans comment on its every Facebook, Instagram, TwitterTumblr, and Pinterest post and regularly post pictures of themselves in their Nasty Gal finds. A quarter of Nasty Gal’s 550,000 customers visit the site daily for six minutes; the top 10 percent return more than 100 times a month.

Pretty incredible to start from a small eBay store and mature to a $100 million business in a few short years.

Is Wearing High Heels Dangerous?

A new paper published in the Journal of Applied Physiology titled “Long-term use of high heeled shoes alters the neuromechanics of human walking” explores whether women who wear high heels have increased risks of injury (outside of the embarrassment of slipping; we’re talking long-term effects here).

The Australian scientists in this study recruited nine young women who had worn high heels for at least 40 hours a week for a minimum of two years. The scientists also recruited 10 young women who rarely, if ever, wore heels to serve as controls. Both groups of women were equipped with electrodes to track leg-muscle activity, as well as motion-capture reflective markers. Ultrasound probes measured the length of muscle fibers in their legs.

The scientists found that heel wearers moved with shorter, more forceful strides than the control group, their feet perpetually in a flexed, toes-pointed position. Most interestingly, this movement pattern continued even when the women took off their high heels and walked barefoot. As a result, the fibers in their calf muscles had shortened and they put much greater mechanical strain on their calf muscles than the control group did. This is the paper’s abstract:

Human movement requires a constant, finely-tuned interaction between muscular and tendinous tissues, so changes in the properties of either tissue could have important functional consequences. One condition that alters the functional demands placed on lower limb muscle-tendon units is the use of high-heeled shoes (HH), which force the foot into a plantarflexed position. Long-term HH use has been found to shorten medial gastrocnemius muscle fascicles and increase Achilles tendon stiffness, but the consequences of these changes for locomotor muscle-tendon function are unknown. This study examined the effects of habitual HH use on the neuromechanical behaviour of triceps surae muscles during walking. The study population consisted of 9 habitual high heel wearers who had worn shoes with a minimum heel height of 5cm at least 40 hours per week for a minimum of 2 years, and 10 control participants who habitually wore heels for less than 10 hours per week. Participants walked at a self-selected speed over level ground while ground reaction forces, ankle and knee joint kinematics, lower limb muscle activity and gastrocnemius fascicle length data were acquired. In long-term HH wearers, walking in HH resulted in substantial increases in muscle fascicle strains and muscle activation during the stance phase compared to barefoot walking. The results suggest that long-term high heel use may compromise muscle efficiency in walking, and are consistent with reports that HH wearers often experience discomfort and muscle fatigue. Long-term HH use may also increase the risk of strain injuries.

In an interview with The New York Times, one of the scientists of the study mentioned that “We think that the large muscle strains that occur when walking in heels may ultimately increase the likelihood of strain injuries.” The suggestion for women who wear high heels throughout the day (or for prolonged periods of time every working day)? First, rely less on high heels, if at all possible. If not, then remove high heels whenever possible, such as when sitting at the desk.