Signature9 Lifestyle Intelligence Thu, 14 Jan 2016 06:21:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Hermès Birkin Bags Outperform the S&P 500 Thu, 14 Jan 2016 06:20:13 +0000 green-hermes-birkin-bag

According to a research study by resale marketplace Baghunter, you’d do better putting your money in a (Birkin) bag than in the stock market or gold.

The study looked at returns from the S&P 500, gold and Hermès Birkin bags from 1980, when the Birkin bag was released, to 2015. At its highest point, the S&P 500 offered a 37.5% return on investment, gold offered a 14.3% return and Birkin bags offered a 25% return. Market fluctuations bring the average returns down quite a bit however. While stocks and gold hit lows that brought their average return down to an 11.66% nominal rate and 1.9% respectively, the Birkin bag hasn’t decreased in value since its launch.

At price points that put it in the ultra-luxury category, Baghunter founder Evelyn Fox suggests that the stability of returns aren’t subject to the same market fluctuations of other commodities.

“There is a difference between luxury and ultra-luxury. While the luxury market suffers during worse economic times the ultra-luxury market is impervious to economic factors that can affect other industries such as high-street retail and stock markets,” she says. {Luxury Daily}

While that’s certainly a positive indicator for bag collectors, Hermes typically announces Q4 sales results in February so those who still prefer to stick with stocks will have to wait to see if the company can match the returns of its most famous product. The most recent investor release for Q1-Q3 2015 reported 9% growth at adjusted exchange rates, with leather goods and gold jewelry growing fastest year over year.

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When to Shop Amazon Prime Day for the Best Deals Wed, 15 Jul 2015 06:15:44 +0000 amazon-boxes
If you’re not a parent of a small child, being an early bird/extreme night owl may not help you catch any deals that are of particular interest for Amazon’s Prime Day blowout. While the floodgates are set to open at 3am EST/12am PST, most of the earliest deals are heavy on the toy, crib and stroller category so those looking for any of the teased TV or tech deals can sleep a little longer.

With such heavy promotion, it’s not clear how long items will stay in stock, so do try to wake up as early as your interest allows. Check back for updates on worthwhile deals throughout the day.

Tech Deals


7:50am PST/10:50am EST. This is when some of the teased (and in our humble opinion, most worthwhile) deals drop.

Among the not-too-early morning deals? More than 50% off the Nikon Coolpix P600 16.1MP camera, though it’s not specified if that’s off of the list price or the current Amazon price. Other worthwhile products with deals launching at this time are the Ausdom M05 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones, IMNEED Mini 3200mAh External Battery Charger and the Securifi Almond Long Range Touchscreen Wireless Router/Range Extender. While there are a handful of tech products launching earlier, they’re primarily phone cases, USB cords and other items that you shouldn’t lose sleep over.

Men’s Fashion & Style Deals


7:30am PST/10:50am EST. This Baume & Mercier 8485 Classima watch, currently priced at $1309, is slated for a 7:30am deal start time along with several other watches. Everything before are things you may need (underwear, socks), but nothing you’d want badly enough to justify an earlier wakeup.

Women’s Fashion & Style Deals


7:30am PST/10:50am EST. This women’s Dior watch, currently priced at $4895 (list price, $8900) is certainly worth keeping an eye on, as is this silver Baume & Mercier. While there are other nice enough jewelry items that make an earlier appearance, it looks like the deals to get excited about won’t be making an appearance until later in the day.

Food, Drink and Home Deals

Go back to sleep. Nothing earth shattering or early alarm setting to see here before 8am.

Amazon box arch image by Ed Hunsinger via Flickr

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Looks Like Amazon’s Earliest Prime Deals are for Parents with Babies, Late Night Eaters Wed, 15 Jul 2015 04:49:53 +0000 amazon-prime-day-babies

Amazon’s Prime Day Sale promises Black Friday like deals on a number of products, complete with virtual doorbusters like a 32-inch TV for $75. What’s been teased in an earlier press release is enough to be enticing, but browsing through their Upcoming Deals section there are even more indications of the products that will be part of the sale.

Prime Day deals kick off at 3am EST/12am PST, so in a masterful stroke of marketing, many of the earliest deals are heavy on toys and baby gear. If there’s any group that’s awake and looking for something to do at 3 in the morning, it’s probably parents with small children. Also in the mix? A nighttime weight loss supplement in case you wanted something to help with post baby weight.

If cradles and toys aren’t at the top of your wishlist, view our hour-by-hour list of when to shop Prime Day for the best deals for other interests (spoiler: for most, you can safely sleep in a little longer).

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Band of Outsiders is Reportedly Finished Tue, 26 May 2015 20:51:46 +0000 Fashionista is reporting that Band of Outsiders, which launched as a shirt and tie company by Scott Sternberg in 2004 before gaining a cult following and expanding to a full range of men’s and women’s clothing, is “done.”


Claiming $12 million in sales in 2010, Sternberg took on an undisclosed amount of money from investors in 2013 for “a really important expansion phase.” {WWD} That coincided with the opening of a standalone store in Tokyo the same year.

Rumors of trouble emerged in February when the brand canceled their Fall 2015 show at New York Fashion Week, but a spokeswoman specifically denied that business or financial issues were behind the move.

“According to several people who have worked at, or with, the company, Band of Outsiders has laid off the majority of its staff, and canceled all fall wholesale orders. The brand was low on funds and chose not to produce its next collection.” {Fashionista}

Band of Outsiders has not commented.

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SOLVED: Definitive Proof That the True Color of That $80 Internet Breaking Dress Is Fri, 27 Feb 2015 05:02:48 +0000 that-dress-gold-white-blue-black Poorly lit white and gold, or overexposed blue and black? What color dress do you see?

Blue and black (and better looking off the hanger).

Tumblr user swiked posted a photo of the dress, worn by a friend’s mother, and ignited a color debate. A lot of people saw white and gold, others argued blue and black. Others argued that the dress in question was too ugly to even think about.



Sorry white and gold crowd – we were fervently with you after looking at the picture above in a brightly lit room from the top down. But after a few minutes in a darker area, and looking again from the bottom up, it seemingly changed color entirely and stuck. We’ve seen the lack of light, can’t unsee it, and are firmly entrenched in the blue and black camp.

Don’t take our word for it, there’s a scientific explanation for why your eyes may be playing color tricks on you.

Light enters the eye through the lens—different wavelengths corresponding to different colors….Without you having to worry about it, your brain figures out what color light is bouncing off the thing your eyes are looking at, and essentially subtracts that color from the “real” color of the object….Usually that system works just fine. This image, though, hits some kind of perceptual boundary. {Wired}

In a completely unscientific explanation, what color you see tends to vary depending on where you first look. Starting at the top, the first panel in the middle does indeed appear to be a dull gold, and the blue tones seem to be a poorly lit white. If you look at the photo from the bottom up, the first portion of the middle panel appears to have a more clear bluish tone.

If you’re still not convinced, here’s a color balanced photo, in all its true blue and black glory, from the retailer who sells it.



That dress, and the pictured jacket, are available at UK retailer Roman for £50 (approximately $77 at current exchange rates), in a variety of more clearly defined colors. Pick your favorite Instagram filter, try them all and see how much of an internet debate you can ignite.

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Unretouched Photos Show That Beyoncé Has Pores Thu, 19 Feb 2015 01:36:14 +0000 beyonce-unretouched Unretouched Beyonce photos still look pretty good.


Have you ever wondered if “Flawless” singer Beyoncé is actually human? A fan site recently nearly triggered a fan clash when they published unretouched images that seemingly confirm she is.

Quickly removed, the photos are outtakes from a photo shoot for L’Oreal which show the singer with visible pores, smile lines and heavy makeup.

“Due to the disdain of the BeyHive, we have removed the photos. We don’t want to cause any drama, nor do we wish to start fan wars. Some of the things we have seen posted were just horrible, and we don’t want any parts of it. We were just posting the photos to share the fact that our queen is naturally beautiful, at the same time she is just a regular woman.”

{The Beyonce World via Complex}

There are undoubtedly times when Photoshop goes overboard – altering body shapes and parts, significantly changing skin tone are both instances that meet with deserved criticism and examination. This is not one of those times.

Studio lighting is harsh and generally unforgiving, and close up professional photography will capture every tiny characteristic of human skin. Add on multiple layers of makeup which make for strong colors in a photo, and in the real world you have a magnifying glass for any bump, line or crevice.

beyonce-unretouched-comparison At left, an unretouched outtake photo, and retouched advertisement at right.


While she may not have the rubber-like skin that results from a few Photoshop layers in real life, it appears that the Beyonce of unretouched photos is actually starting with a relatively smooth base. That’s not to mention the entire eye area, which is remarkably bagless and bright for someone who seems to work quite a bit.

If the singer ever had 99 problems, her pre-Photoshop appearance definitely isn’t one.

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AirBnB Has Discovered a Way to Make Online Reviewers Nicer Tue, 03 Feb 2015 05:12:10 +0000 airbnb-welcome-home

No, it’s not by showing them vaguely sexual line drawings, but that’s surely gotten a smile out of at least a few travelers.

A new research paper comparing more than 600,000 AirBnB and TripAdvisor listings found that properties on the former had mostly 4.5 and 5 star ratings while comparable properties on the latter hovered around an average of 3.8. Are AirBnB accommodations really that much better than traditional hotels? Probably not.

Airbnb has a two-way review system, where people renting these accommodations also get ratings from the property renters, thus there is more incentive on both sides to stay civil, and hence positive. {Skift}

Some listings appeared on both sites, but whether it’s the more personal nature of listings that AirBnB tries to play up or the fact that AirBnB hosts can review guests, the exact same properties were consistently rated lower on TripAdvisor.

AirBnB’s horror stories have been well documented, yet whether it’s a drug addict, sex party host or squatter who just won’t leave, they’ve all been jaw dropping stories about rogue renters. Surely that doesn’t mean there are no shady slumlords renting properties, but the better publicized experiences around insane guests tipped AirBnB’s policies towards hosts fairly early on. From million dollar insurance liability policies and lobbying efforts to establish the legality of their business model (which is currently illegal for some hosts using the platform), it’s clear that happy hosts are the priority.

While hotels and other travel providers can respond to negative reviews on TripAdvisor, the less than stellar guest will never face a bad review following them the internet, even if one might be deserved.

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Oscar de la Renta’s Legacy Tue, 21 Oct 2014 07:05:17 +0000 oscar-de-la-renta-2014

Oscar de la Renta in September 2014 at the close of his Spring/Summer 2015 fashion show

At 82, it’s difficult to describe a death as surprising. Yet that was the feeling after it was announced that fashion designer Oscar de la Renta had died.

Just over a month ago, de la Renta made his appearance at the close of his Spring/Summer 2015 fashion show, looking as vibrant as the dresses which preceded him. In an even more recent photo with Amal Alamuddin, who wore an Oscar de la Renta bridal gown to marry George Clooney, the designer sits at a workbench while the bride’s dress is fitted. Though he isn’t the primary subject of the photo, his presence can’t be missed.

An active designer for more than 60 years, de la Renta’s namesake label has existed for almost 50. Long associated with “ladies who lunch,” (a term the designer reportedly disliked) and first ladies on both sides of the aisle, one of the most remarkable aspects of the brand is the way it resonates with the selfie generation. An Instagram picture posted by Karlie Kloss with the designer in September garnered more than 38,000 likes, and de la Renta’s collections were often some of the most organically shared on social media.

While his credentials as a creative were well established through couture shows in Paris, and decades of patronage from socialites and celebrities, it’s the continued relevance and inspiration for a generation which sets de la Renta apart. The internet and social media have pushed fashion to go at a pace unlike any in its history, and it’s no small task just to keep up.

It’s no longer enough to impress a select group of editors and buyers, because now consumers have the same level of access. Fashion houses established well before de la Renta’s have struggled to adapt, often bearing heritage as a hindrance to progress.

At 82, Oscar de la Renta battled cancer for 8 years, was a design legend and still very relevant to an industry that saw numerous changes from the time he started in it. Surviving cancer is no small feat, but accomplishing the latter two couldn’t have been much easier.

“Yes, I had cancer. Right now, I am totally clean. The only realities in life are that you are born, and that you die. We always think we are going to live forever. The dying aspect we will never accept. The one thing about having this kind of warning is how you appreciate every single day of life.” – Oscar de la Renta in 2013

As someone who defied the odds and challenged the norms until the very end, perhaps that’s why it’s a loss that still feels a bit unexpected, even if not a surprise.

Image via

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Chloé Founder Gaby Aghion Dies at 93 Sun, 28 Sep 2014 01:12:34 +0000 gaby-aghion-clare-waight-keller

Current Chloé creative director Clare Waight Keller poses with founder Gaby Aghion in 2013

Credited with coining the phrase “prêt-à-porter,” and building a business on it at a time when haute couture and custom made fashion dominated, Chloé founder Gaby Aghion died in Paris on September 27th at the age of 93.

Just one day away from the Spring/Summer 2015 runway collection, scheduled for September 28th, the French fashion house announced that the show will be dedicated to her memory. {Fashionista}

Born in Egypt, Aghion moved to Paris in 1945 and launched Chloé seven years later in 1952. At the time, luxury fashion typically existed only through made-to-order haute couture creations. Aghion provided “nicely sewn, accessible” dresses as a modern alternative to time consuming salon appointments and fittings.

The brand, originally launched for Aghion’s friends, “not grandes dames more suited to rarefied designs peddled by 1950s couture salons,” is rooted in simplicity. Through multiple creative directors, and many decades, it remains one of the most recognizable hallmarks of the label.

Her reputation as a champion of other designers also helped cement her place as a fashion legend. One of the first to employ a young Karl Lagerfeld, Chloé has been a launch pad for the careers of notable designers like Stella McCartney and Phoebe Philo.



Image credit: WWD

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Black Is the New Burger Thu, 11 Sep 2014 20:57:36 +0000 burger-king-black-burger

The Diamond edition Burger King Japan black burger

The last limited edition product to be associated with Burger King that we spotted was the Buffalo Crunch Donut. While it certainly didn’t seem like the healthiest menu option, it made sense given that it came from a franchisee of the Tim Horton’s chain which was recently acquired by the company, and for the fact that a junk food x junk food super junkfood mashup from the two fast food chains wouldn’t be all that out of place.

Not sure this latest burger will make its way onto menus near you anytime soon.

Burger King Japan is rolling out another “Kuro Burger” (“Black Burger”), with buns made from bamboo charcoal, an onion and garlic sauce made with squid ink, beef patties made with black pepper, and black cheese, which is also apparently made with bamboo charcoal. {Kotaku}

The squid ink, onion and garlic sauce doesn’t actually sound so bad, but black cheese? Charcoal buns? Did product developers look at a group of coal miners and go “Yes! That’s what people want to taste in a burger!”?

We can’t be sure that coal miners are having a culinary moment, but inspiration to try this commercially could have actually come from a limited edition burger offered in France more than 2 years ago.


Quick’s “Dark Vador” burger, was actually one of the first to include black buns.


Quick, the French/Benelux equivalent of Burger King, offered a burger with black buns more than 2 years ago (officially the “Dark Vador,” though everyone recognizes it as the Darth Vader burger). {Buzzfeed} The bread is as far as the monochromatic food coloring went, but it generated enough publicity that someone in Japan may have taken note.

If you’d like to taste a charcoal burger, have always looked at bleu cheese and thought “I really wish there were a darker colored cheese,”and have money for a ticket to Japan, the Kuro burger goes on sale for a limited time this month. It is available in a Diamond edition (pictured at top) with normally colored tomatoes, onions and lettuce; the Pearl edition dispenses with any attempt at burger normalcy and eliminates those things for odd-colored food purists.



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