Style What To Buy

5 Things to Make You Look Cooler That You Can Also Afford

There comes a point when a guy might decide he wants to, ya know, dress a bit cooler. But where does one start? It is easy to fall victim to the convenience offered by the fast fashion world. Retailers like Topman or Urban Outfitters might seem trendy and cheap, but don’t expect quality. The other trap is streetwear—buying Stüssy or Supreme because there is a line outside does not make a well-dressed dude.

Nobody can dictate your style but you: Only you can figure out what you like. But a good way to at least differentiate your style from every other guy’s fit is to buy stuff that isn’t at every other shop. Thrifting is a great way to begin and a rather inexpensive starting point to experimenting with your style. But if you were to purchase a few key items for relatively cheap that can really take your fits from lame to flame, we have a few suggestions.

Corduroy Dad Dodo Hat
Rowing Blazers

A corduroy hat can take your entire fit from stuffy or too put together to casual. Timothée Chalamet has been spotted on several occasions sporting a cap from menswear brand Rowing Blazers, started by former national rowing team member Jack Carlson. They’re comfy and come with tongue-in-cheek satin-stitched patches tacked to the front.

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Rubber Soul Sneakers

There are a lot of different sneakers that sneakerheads lust over—new collabs between high-fashion designers and streetwear brands drop almost daily now. But there are a few shoe brands that are making interesting footwear that straddles the two world of sneakers and dress shoes well (Romain Kremer’s designs at Camper come to mind).

Enter RBRSL_RUBBER SOUL. Handcrafted in Piticchio, Italy, each pair is expertly designed and rubber-dipped until it appears as though the sole is fused with the upper. Then the makers progressively and strictly number each shoe for authenticity. They look experimental but wearable.

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Old Pink Oversized Pants
Daily Paper

I get that dusty rose pants are not in every guy’s sartorial vocabulary, but they look super sick! When paired with other minimal staples—a white tee, a pair of sneakers—they can really elevate your outfit. Daily Paper makes a damn covetable pair. Founded in 2010 in Amsterdam, it began as a mostly hypebeast brand that has since expanded into much more wearable offerings.

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A.P.C. Jayson Wallet
End Clothing

If your wallet is busted, here is a good one. The bifold is a thing of the past, and this A.P.C. wallet slips easily into your back pocket without looking like a butt tumor.

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HTT Red Hoodie

Everyone needs an oversize hoodie, regardless of the season. This wine-colored hoodie from Korean brand APIECEOFCAKE is a one-way ticket to cool town. With its mantra “design for the present,” the label marries staple garments with interesting logos and graphics.

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Sports Strength

2019 NCAA Tournament Guide: Premature Theories Edition

As we head into the home stretch of another epic college hoops season, it’s time to get those pens, papers and highlighters ready as we prepare for Selection Sunday on March 17th. Here, we’re providing you—the bracket-playing, finger-crossing hoops fanatic—with a handy rundown of likely upsets, potential Cinderella stories and championship contenders for the Big Dance. Fasten your seat belts and clutch those brackets!

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The Favorites

The four teams projected to be No. 1 seeds are Duke, Gonzaga, Virginia and Tennessee. Of course, as we head into conference tournament play, these projections are always subject to change— you never know when a team might suddenly lose the momentum they have built up throughout the season. If you have to choose a winner, you can base your decision on two factors: the team’s stats and the route they have to take to get to the championship.

If you are the fan who values team stats as an indicator of prospective success, then you have no choice but to throw Virginia into the mix. They might have been on the receiving end of a landmark upset in the 2018 NCAA tournament, becoming the first No. 1 seed to suffer a defeat at the hands of a No. 16 seed. But for the second year in the row, the Cavaliers are the best defensive team in the league, allowing an average of only 54.6 points per game. 

It has become more and more likely that the team with the easiest route is the Blue Devils. With Zion Williamson absolutely dominating the court this season, the young Blue Devils have been running teams out of the gym. The only thing that may stop them from cutting down the net is their lack of experience as March Madness tends to favor veteran rosters. 

Our pick: Duke. There’s too much talent for Coach K not to bring one back to Cameron Indoor Stadium. Coach K better milk these moments while he can because Zion, RJ and Cam will more than likely be some of the top picks in the 2019 NBA Draft.

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This Year’s 2011 UCONN Team

No run to a national championship game has ever been as impressive as UConn’s in 2011. Between the Big East Conference and the NCAA tournament, Kemba Walker led the Huskies to 11 straight wins while securing the school’s third national championship.

Fast forward to 2019, and there are some schools who have the ability to spark that kind of epic run, putting them among the game’s all-time greatest dark horse champs. LSU Tigers, a highly talented team with one of the nation’s top offenses, are looking like the underdog contenders to run the table in the SEC and NCAA tourney.  Led by sophomore sensation Tremont Waters and freshman phenom Naz Reid, the purple-and-gold crew in the Bayou has a plethora of weapons to change the outcome of games as the “Tri-State” tandem is on a quest to bring a ship to the Big Easy. 

Then there is St. John’s Red Storm. Having won 12 out of their 13 games, Coach Chris Mullin’s squad has been on an early-season tear. Ranked as high as No. 25, they stumbled and struggled to survive throughout the first five games of conference play. But with outstanding playmaking abilities and admirable leadership qualities from junior guard Shamorie Ponds, the Red Storm team has the talent and the length to ruin everyone’s bracket and bring home a national championship to Queens for the first time in the school’s history. Ponds—a Brooklyn native— is ready to step into the spotlight and remind the basketball world that if you have an NYC-bred guard on your team, then you are bound to create some shining moments. Just ask Kemba, both Kennys (Anderson and Smith), Jimmer and Russdiculous.

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Every year, the NCAA tournament has been a party for plenty of teams America has never seen or heard of. Whether it was Dunk City’s own Florida Gulf Coast, who upset powerhouses Georgetown University and San Diego State University in 2015, or UMBC (University of Maryland-Baltimore County) becoming the first No. 16 team ever to defeat a No. 1 team in a Division I tournament game—in convincing fashion, too. Is there a chance we will get to witness history like this again? Not likely, but there are some intriguing teams that, if they’re seeded at No. 15, will be in the position to send a No. 2 back to their campus earlier than expected.

One of the schools to watch out for is Norfolk State University. If the school name rings a bell for you, then you probably remember them defeating No. 2 Missouri in 2013. Well, the Spartans may be back to do it again as they are in the position to win the MEAC conference. Coach Rob Jones has his troops in tip-top shape to have another formal coming out party as hoops’ Cinderella squad of 2019. They can’t do it without their sharpshooter Derrik Jamerson Jr., who is in the top five in the nation for 3-point percentage.

Murray State is floating under the radar as a potential lottery pick that’s lighting up the scoreboard in an entertaining fashion. The Racers can be a team to make a lot of noise in the tournament thanks to Ja Morant. The high-flying play-making point guard has been averaging 26.4 points and 10.2 assists a game—both of which land him in the top five in the nation for scoring and assists. A brewing regular on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays, this kid dynamite can quietly knock out one of Duke’s freshmen standouts as a top three pick in the upcoming NBA draft depending on how well his Murray State team performs in the NCAA tournament. 

Then there is SUNY-Buffalo, led by crafty scorer CJ Massinburg, who have been terrorizing teams left and right. Granted they have been ranked pretty generously for most of the season, but this small school in upstate New York has been the unsuspecting, hottest ticket in the basketball world. After all, it is always a team like this from a mid-major conference like the MAC that can upset perennial powerhouse squads at any moment. Last year, as a No. 13 ranked squad in the first round of the NCAA tournament, they lit up the No. 4 ranked Arizona Wildcats. But that winning high abruptly came to an end when Kentucky cruised past them in the second round.

The major key of being a dangerous sleeper team is possessing the ability to knock down the three ball. Wofford University is one of the best at draining it from the deep ends of the court. In 18 games, the Terriers averaged 13.4 3-pointers a game, sinking roughly 50 percent of these attempts. With sharpshooter Fletcher Magee surpassing former Blue Devil long ball assassin J.J. Redick, the Terriers will be a formidable team come March.

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A Hot Take for the Road

Whoever Drake is rooting for…may the hoop gods be with you. You will need it.

Sports Strength

These Are the Best NBA Fits from February

For a brief moment in time, February was business as usual. While the All-Star Game brought out the fits, it all felt pretty scripted, befitting the moment. Across the multitude of shoe drop events happening that weekend, all the speeches made by players and brand representatives were glaringly predetermined. That is not to say this posturing was a bad thing—it was just expected.

But after we hit Valentine’s day, the fit conversation escalated, nay evolved. P.J. Tucker has entered another dimension. Paul George—who looks like a top two, maybe top one player in the NBA—is carrying leftovers around. Business-minded forward Andre Iguodala refused to be left behind the competition. The new locker room tunnel isn’t even a tunnel

With that context in place, here are the outstanding NBA-related fits from the month of February.

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PJ Tucker, Piloting Through the Multiverse

Of all the non-megastars, P.J. Tucker is the NBA player who draws the most attention to his tunnel walk, and he knows it. An early adopter of the shoe carry, he has pushed that tension in increasingly outrê directions. 

Here, he’s carrying two pairs of shoes, and the conversation over his in-your-face branding tactic has heightened in unexpected ways. Frankly, it has created a butterfly effect that has rippled throughout the league. The shoe carry has become standard practice , for better or worse. 

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D’Angelo Russell’s Waterproof Drip

These days the surging NBA style has become a little, dare I say, redundant. Nowadays, it is easy to tell who has enlisted the help of a stylist— before their foray into the NBA, college team sweatpants were the bottoms of choice. A stale combination of a designer hoodie, statement pants and deadstock kicks has become the go-to fit for many of these players. Just look at D-Lo. So much drip he had to put a coat on!

And the subtlety! Let us not forget that these guys are entering a basketball arena. An outfit is only as great as its context which is why Mr. Russell’s decision to not only wear, but highlight the standard Nike mid-calves, is so tasteful. Keep your eyes out to see who rocks the coat next. D-Lo is out here setting trends.—Jacob

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Cozy Boys, But Cozier

It is certainly #CozySZN in the NBA. Rhuigi Villasenor’s Rhude might be the hottest brand in fashion right now afte LeBron and Bella Hadid & The Weeknd co-signed with them during All-Star Weekend. Even Kuzma jumped on board, and one of the NBA’s tastemakers, it is sure to make a splash.  Rocking pajamas to work is a flex, and knowing that you’re making a wave in the industry just sets it over the top. —Jacob

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Is Barack our New Style God?

I mean, come on—Rag & Bone bomber with the “44” embroidery? A smart and fashion-savvy friend recently asked me “Is Barack Obama the new Jonah Hill?” and I think she’s onto something. —Corban

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Beyond the Tunnel

A small cadre of NBA players is making the “new tunnel” not even the tunnel at all. It’s starting in the parking lot now, which is the maximum amount of flex possible in a pregame image, at least until someone installs a lost Rembrandt in their locker or something. It also requires a personal photographer, because the media’s access in the arena does not extend to the parking lot (at least as far as I know). —Corban

Grind Productivity

What You Need to Know About Overnight Success

There is no such thing as overnight success. Everything that results in sustainable fulfillment requires patience, overcoming of obstacles and persistence. The majority of successful people you read about lose (a lot) before they win.

Popular culture doesn’t reinforce this truth. It’s rarely realistic about the journey to success—its length and arduous nature. The truth is discovered while you’re on the journey, which makes it a form of earned knowledge.

Bettmann/Getty Images
Green Bay Packers practice kicking in preparation for their game against the New York Giants in 1934

Popular culture lets down our young people, especially, when it comes to this truth. They deserve honest guidance, knowledge and inspiration, but very often our culture hands them impossible dreams and irrational expectations, emphasizing faster, younger, bigger, more, more, more. Did you make the 30 under 30 list? Honestly, who cares?

In your life, your career, your relationships, you’re best served by taking the high road and the long view. Do what’s right and build long-term value and meaningful connections.

Anything less is compromised.

Fulfillment is earned.

Hard work put toward something you care deeply about, over a long period of time, yields sustainable fulfillment and the increased likelihood of positive outcomes.

Success is iterative.

Bob Peterson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
Redskins quarterback Sonny Jurgensen and Coach Vince Lombardi during practice

You have an idea. You take actions to manifest and share that idea. You observe the results of your action. If you achieve your desired outcome, you continue on that path. If you do not, you make changes, improve and slowly move closer to your desired outcome. You will most likely not get it right the first few hundred times. But if you are doing something you truly care about, you will continue on your path.

You will persist.

This idea of constantly iterating, tweaking, again and again, is the least publicized part of the creative process. Not because it is uncommon. This aspect doesn’t get the spotlight because it’s not sexy. But the grind is where the work is really done. It’s what separates the never-was from the good, the good from the great, and the great from the best of the best. These are levels of achievement directly proportional to how much iteration is done.

True success requires constant, relentless iterating. And that takes time.

Culture Movies/TV

Kickstarter-Funded Films at the Oscars: 9 Years, 15 Nominations and 2 Wins

Amid the high-budget films nominated for Oscars this year was a Kickstarter-backed documentary with humble financial beginnings. The creators of Period. End of Sentence. first turned to the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter in 2016 to raise $45,000 to make the project, and the contributions from the 358 backers paid off big time: Period won Best Documentary Short at Sunday’s Academy Awards.

Surprisingly, Period. End of Sentence. wasn’t even the first Kickstarter-funded film to snag an Oscar nod. Since 2011, 15 Oscar-nominated films have been funded through Kickstarter. 

The first Kickstarter-funded to win an Oscar was 2012’s Inocente, which took home the coveted Best Documentary Short statuette. That project raised more than $52,000 from 294 backers. “[Kickstarter is] a great outlet for films, especially for documentaries,” Inocente co-director Sean Fine told journalists backstage after winning in 2013.

Over the past decade, filmmakers have raked in more than $428M in Kickstarter pledges for over 70,230 independent films, features, documentaries, shorts, and web series. More than 26,000 of those projects reached their required goal and were deemed “successfully funded.”

All the Kickstarter-funded films nominated for Oscars
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Culture News

The New ‘Will Smith’s Bucket List’ Show Is a Big Win for Facebook’s Streaming Service

“Hey. Don’t ever let somebody tell you can’t do something. Not even me,” Will Smith’s character tells his son in 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness. Well, now the actor is heeding that advice in the real world by checking off everything on his bucket list, and he’s letting us watch it all unfold in a new series fittingly titled Will Smith’s Bucket List.

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In a major catch for Facebook, the social network’s relatively new video-on-demand platform Facebook Watch just dropped the trailer (above) and the show’s first episode (below). Smith skydives in the inaugural episode to celebrate his 50th birthday.

“Every time I confront this fear, I feel more free. I wanted my wife [Jada] to skydive with me,” Smith quips in the trailer before shouting out their three children. “Trey and Jaden are going to jump. Willow didn’t come; she told me it’s stupid.”

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New episodes will debut every Wednesday, with at least five more already confirmed for the coming weeks. What’s next on his bucket list? Swimming with sharks, running a half marathon in Cuba, dancing in a Bollywood movie, doing standup comedy with Dave Chappelle and racing F1 cars.  

Smith is by far the biggest name on Facebook Watch, which launched in the United States in 2017, followed by an international rollout in August 2018. The service has a steadily growing list of dramas, comedies, reality shows, news programs, talk shows, docuseries and other forms of acquired or original programming.

Facebook Watch has started to offer live sports streaming as well. Notably, it will be reviving MTV’s The Real World, allowing Facebook’s 2.32B monthly active users to vote on the show’s final winner. 

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Grind Money

4 Apps That Pay You Money to Play Games

According to a Nielsen Report in July of 2018, American adults spend more than 11 hours per day listening to, watching, reading or generally interacting with media. That’s roughly 65 percent of the average adult’s waking minutes. Heck, if you’re reading this article, you’re looking at a screen. If we are spending this much time on screens anyway, shouldn’t we be generating income from it?

Enter these four apps, game-driven profit generators that pay you for your time on devices. Community-pooling trivia apps became dinner table conversation in 2018 with the industry driver HQ, but money-making platforms have been around much longer. While they may not make you a millionaire, these options can put a few extra bucks in your pockets.  

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Long Game

Prize money: Up to $1 Million

Best for: Savvy savers

What it does: Long Gamea new app for iPhones and Android smartphones, uses games and milestones to encourage personal savings and investments. Link your bank account to participate in the auto-saving program, squirreling away money into a rainy day or “trip to Paris” fund. Fun mini-games earn you coins, and the more you save, the more chances you earn to play. Bonus: You can translate your profits into BitCoin and Ether, a new crypto option for gaming. 

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Prize money: $1.2 Million awarded every six months 

Best for: Smart cookies 

What it does: The cultural phenomenon that hit its peak on New Year’s Eve of 2018, HQ is a trivia game from Intermedia Labs that has prize pots up to a whopping $400,000. The hitch? You must correctly answer a series of obscure multiple-choice questions in ten seconds flat. No time for googling or phoning a friend. The catch is that you must split the prize money with whoever else was a smart cookie. Often, this leaves winners with a mere dollar or two in their account. Or, like the above winner, a measly $11. Our style editor Trey Taylor offers this quote: “I did HQ when it was trending before the guy OD’ed,” and I think that about sums it up. 

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Out of Tune

Prize money: Pools from $2,500

Best for: Music buffs

What it does: Very similar in structure to HQ, Out of Tune tests users’ music knowledge, asking you to identify 12 songs. If a player does so correctly, they win a cash prize. But there is one caveat: The game can only be played on Sundays through Thursdays at 8pm ET and 11pm ET. The prize buckets are similar to HQ’s, but you only have a few seconds to correctly identify the tune. It is important to note that 50 percent of the show’s current audience is 24-years-old or younger, and another 25 percent fall into the 25 to 34-year-old-demographic according to Variety. So count your dad’s vast knowledge of 50s music out.

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Swagbucks Answer

Prize money: $328M to date

Best for: The guy who likes answering questions about himself

What it does: Swagbucks, perhaps the OG app that offers gift cards for answering surveys, shopping or watching videos, launched Swagbucks Answer, its version of a trivia quiz show. Simply respond to fun surveys and rake in the cash. The average payout for one survey ranges from $1 to $5, but when bundled, you can generate a healthy profit for simply killing time. The Swagbucks empire touts the largest member payout number to date, totaling roughly $328M. Earning even a small percentage of that number would be major, so it’s worth a shot, right?

Grooming Style

This Barbershop Uses Robots to Fix Your Hairline

In Straight from the Founder’s Mouth, we ask entrepreneurs in emerging and fast-growing markets to share intel on what it took to launch their business, and how they’re continuing to thrive during growth. Today we’re talking to Justin E. Rome, M.D., and entrepreneur Ari S. Goldberg—who founded and sold media company StyleCaster in 2014—about their L.A.-based venture, Barber Surgeons Guild.

Part hipster barbershop, part medical spa for men, with a product line and content arm to support and enrich the brick-and-mortar business, Barber Surgeons Guild is a new breed of grooming startup. Some clients come in for a whiskey and a straight-razor shave, some partake in a robotic hair-regeneration treatment (sticker price: $8,000 and up), others do Botox and a beer. If it helps men look more handsome, it’s pretty much fair game at BSG. Learn the history behind the brand’s name and where Rome and Goldberg will take BSG next.

First, can you describe your business in a few sentences? What range of services do you offer?

Justin E. Rome, M.D.: Barber Surgeons Guild is a one-stop shop to keep men looking their best, from traditional quality grooming services such as precision haircuts and straight-razor shaves to advanced medical therapies such as robotic hair restoration and noninvasive laser treatments for removing unwanted hair, tattoos and stubborn body fat. We bridge the gap between style and medical aesthetics, and see both arms of the company as complementary to each other.

Why did you feel this was the right business to go into—at this time, in this place, in this way?

Ari S. Goldberg: With the success of Drybar and Harry’s, and the billion-dollar acquisition of Dollar Shave Club by Unilever, I started thinking about the white space in the men’s grooming market. I saw an opportunity on the cusp of consumer and medical, as well as a business that was digitally native with brick-and-mortar locations. I started meeting with the top doctors in NYC and L.A. and thought they were more like used car salesmen than doctors. I knew I wanted to partner with a doctor, and when I met Justin, I immediately knew we could create an industry leader. We share a big vision, have different skill sets that are complementary and share the same values, which feels like a recipe for a unicorn.

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Who came up with the idea for BSG and why does your partnership make sense?

Rome: I’ll take credit for the namesake, but the BSG concept was a natural evolution of many discussions between Ari and myself. We had a similar vision of how to refresh this outdated space and make it more modern.

I’ve personally always been amazed to know that barbers and surgeons were really one trade for about 500 years, prior to their separation in the late 1700s. Many don’t realize this, but the barber-surgeons of the Middle Ages were the forefathers of modern-day surgery, and they also performed haircuts and shaves. Our name pays tribute to this piece of history by once again including both barbers and surgeons under one roof to provide the most comprehensive services to our clients.

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If we were potential investors or brand partners, what would you tell us about your business?

Rome: There are two major things going on right now in the spaces we play in: One, hair restoration is growing faster than any other aesthetic procedure for men or women, and the average age now for these procedures is 34 years old. This is a dramatic change from 10 years ago, yet most hair restoration businesses have not updated their procedures to include modern robotics, nor have they piqued the interest of the new, younger clientele.

Two, the men’s grooming space has boomed in recent years. This prompted us to tap into our resources of barbers and surgeons to develop world-class haircare products. We are first-to-market with a variety of styling products that have these bioactive ingredients.

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How have you marketed or otherwise grown your business since you started?

Goldberg: The last company I started and sold was a big digital media company in the fashion and beauty space. I quickly realized that we could create the same infrastructure—better, faster and more cost-effective—and make two changes. One, create content for men, not women. Two, sell our own products instead of selling advertising for major brands to help them sell their products. With that said, we have an industry-leading digital and social media platform. We create extensive features and social media content, original photography and video, and we activate through SEO, paid search, paid social, influencers, PR and a number of other marketing tactics.

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Who are your target clients? Where were they going or what were they doing before they found you?

Rome: Our target clients are men in their 20s to early 50s. From the medical side, they were going to places that were never comfortable—female-oriented medi spas, plastic surgeons or hair-loss clinics, which feel so dated and not cool at all. Our concept has beer on draft and a whiskey bar on top of all the advanced treatments we offer. On the grooming side, we block off an hour for a haircut. There is no rushing our work at BSG.

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Tell us about the product line. Why was this a priority for you?

Rome: We wanted to create a hair care line that doesn’t just perform well from a style perspective, smell great and be something people want to use daily. We also wanted to fortify each product in the line with bioactive ingredients to keep hair looking fuller and healthier. We compete in a product space called cosmeceuticals, which are cosmetic products backed by medical research and backed by a physician’s practice. Some examples of such products include Dr. Obagi’s and Dr. Murad’s lines, but those are mainly targeting women. We aim to be the men’s equivalent (but better).

What have you learned about men and grooming since you started the business?

Rome: Since starting BSG, we’ve had an unbelievably positive response to our concept of bringing together in-house surgeons and barbers. Some of our clients just come regularly to the grooming salon, while others just come to the medical component, while many others visit both. The best thing about our concept is that there is something for everyone. I’ve learned that men want comfortable access to many of the offerings women have but do not want to consume them in a female-oriented environment.

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What’s something most men don’t realize about hair loss or aging that you’re combating against?

Rome: Most men do not realize the advanced therapies we have at our disposal these days,including AI-driven robotic hair replacement. There is just so little content out there that men are blindly trusting outdated practices. We aim to be the content provider that educates and empowers men. Same goes for aging: We have the most high-tech lasers to refresh the skin,for instance, but most men have no clue yet that such technology even exists unless they really search hard for it! We are changing this.

How do you hope to grow your business in the future? Additional locations or new services?

Rome: We are set to open our second flagship location this year, then continue to roll out additional locations in the future in major cities. We also aim to diversify our product line and expand to more products that help men look great.

Sports Strength

How to Judge NBA Team Chemistry Via Instagram

As the majority of human interaction has shifted to taking place on the internet, and with the guarantee of a self-esteem bump that comes with every post, social media has become a haven for NBA players to flaunt their blue checkmarks and private-jet lifestyles.

But we common folk reap the benefits. This cultural change presents a litter of Easter eggs dropped every night by the league’s players—a trail of clues that can lead to an uncovering of players’ futures, their personal lives or even the firing of a general manager. And because the players know we’re looking, the context of their tweets after a loss, their interactions in the comments of their teammate’s IG post or their decision to like or not like (that is the question) their teammate’s fit pic become that much more curious.

Like a lot of information around the NBA, a team’s chemistry used to be private. Beat reporters with locker-room access would have a better idea than most, but the rest of us just had to look at reactions of the bench, study the frequency of high-fives and analyze the occasional postgame interview that wasn’t just filled with athlete clichés.

But now there’s a glass door in between the fans and the players. And as we enter a generation of the NBA in which all players are fully acquainted with social media, the Ted Cruz excuse doesn’t really fly—everything they do is intentional. And by nature of the permanence of the internet, we now have a surge of evidence to look at in comparison to years prior.

The same way your ex-significant other can stalk your interactions, we can evaluate the chemistry of NBA teams. So here’s a proprietary rubric ONE37pm has developed in order to best categorize your favorite players’ social media interactions.

Signs of Healthy Team Chemistry
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Pictures of Each Other Doing Sober Activities

Bowling, breakfast with plates full of lean meats and veggies, friendly games of 2K and any other activities suitable for an 8-year-old’s birthday (or Chris Paul’s free Saturday) are strong indicators of healthy team chemistry. Volunteering is cool too. It’s powerful to know these guys choose to hang out with each other even when they don’t have to. But know this: Chris Paul, the king of sober hanging, is also widely criticized for having rocky relationships with his teammates (…by his teammates). Know whose teammates have always loved him? JR Smith’s.

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Team Pics in the Victory PJ

This is the holy grail right here. The whole squad juiced with post-win vibes, feeling the need to share the energy with the rest of the world. They could post anything, but they choose to post their teammates. It’s beautiful.

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Commenting On Each Other’s Fit Pics

Fit pics are hot right now. So hot that they have the potential to cause tension among teammates. Whose kicks are one of one? Who got the early release from a prized designer? And God forbid someone gets accused of copying a teammate’s swag! That’s why seeing teammates support each other when they’re vulnerable is so important.

Teammate Roasting

Those experienced in stalking professional basketball players may dig deeper than just surface level and uncover the true gem of team chemistry indication: friendly banter in the comments. If these squad pics are legit and not just a Band-Aid covering wounded relationships, the comments should be littered with inside jokes. The Lakers’ young core, for example, are nonstop. Clowning each other’s outfits is not off-limits, nor is insulting the teeth of a teammate’s brother. Where some may see sparks fly, I see team building.

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Signs of Bad Team Chemistry

Celebratory Clique Pics

The enemy of the “Victory PJ” pic. Yes, winning is beneficial to the overall team chemistry, but it’s truly revealing when players would rather share the moment with all of their teammates rather than just a select few. When a player handpicks only a few teammates to post publicly, it can be the tip of the iceberg of a fractured roster. The consummate new age teammate knows to keep the clique pics to the IG Story, where they will only live for 24 hours, and maintain a wholesome and populist image in his IG grid.

Flirting with Other Teams & Players

This is obvious, but it’s never a good look when players begin to behave on social media in the same manner as a spurned ex. Favoriting tweets about their own trade rumors, following other teams just so fans notice, commenting with the eyes emoji underneath players on teams who have been linked to them and/or tweeting out pictures of their new relationship with a more attractive partner who makes more money…

It’s all bad.

The Post-Loss/ Losing Streak Subtweet

For how contentious the debate between LeBron James and Michael Jordan is on the court, the subtweet-GOAT contest is undisputed. LeBron’s most famous “fit-in” sub may have legitimately changed the way players’ social media was covered by the media when the reaction proved that NBA fans were just as interested in the internet antics as the highlights on the court. It’s not just the sentiment of the tweet that can be damaging; the fact that the internal relationships aren’t strong enough for these issues to be hashed out face-to-face is even worse.

Posting a Picture of Yourself Moving into 5th All-Time in NBA Scoring the Same Night Your Team Got 40-Pieced and Also You Are Literally Trying To Trade Your Entire Roster

I went to a liberal arts school, so I’m not a math and science guy by any means. But pretty sure this is bad, not good. Would not be thrilled to be Lonzo, Kuzma, Ingram—or any Laker, for that matter—and see my supposed leader post a picture about his personal milestone on the same night the Indiana Pacers bodied the squad.

Major Gray Areas

Pictures of Teammates, Not Sober Edition

This is complicated.

On one hand, it’s proven that not-sober activities are detrimental to the physical and mental well-being of the athletes and can be an indication that players are not fully committed to championship-level preparation. On the other hand, there are few better bonding experiences than hitting the club until 4 a.m. under the influence of some social lubricants. Heck, it’s 2019—a red-eyed, giggly IG Story featuring your team’s starting backcourt could be flipped into a positive too.

In addition to building relationships, it’s a great indicator of chemistry. You’re really only willing to go out with people you actually like spending time with. For example, you think you have a great working relationship with the guy who sits next to you, but then he asks you to get a beer and you reevaluate that. Hanging out outside of work is a true indicator that you actually like someone—more than just a coworker.

Posting Pictures of Only Yourself Playing

A players’ feed littered with pictures of him playing in his team’s uniform is telling of the importance of playing for that franchise holds for the player. But if the ratio of solo playing shots to shots of him playing next to teammates skews too much to the former, it may be a sign that the focus is too much on himself.

Culture Movies/TV

‘Roma’ Lost Best Picture at the Oscars, but Netflix Is Still Winning the Money Game

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have too much money? Well, if you ever run into that kind of wealth, you might want to call up Netflix’s head honcho, Ted Sarandos, for sage advice. After all, he and his streaming service are really, really good at burning through ludicrously large sums of money.

By the end of 2018, Netflix reportedly spent more than $12B on content, forever changing the calculus of film economics. Unsurprisingly, that spending number is projected to spike as high as $15B in 2019, and the streaming service’s prodigal habits were no more apparent than during a $25M Oscars campaign for its cinematic darling, Roma—an all-out blitz that cost twice the film’s production budget. When Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma made history as Netflix’s first Best Picture nomination, Sarandos wasted no time lobbying Academy voters with luxurious parties and generous gifts.

Even for Netflix, the campaign was exorbitant, but how often does Netflix have a chance to snag four Oscars? Since Netflix seems intent on leveling the traditional distribution model, many have speculated that the Academy’s decision to award Green Book instead of Roma was a defensive play; the last thing the studios want is to legitimize Netflix’s formidable position as an industry leader with their most prestigious award. Netflix is their biggest and baddest competitor, a seemingly invincible one at that.

Did Netflix Really Need ‘Roma’ to Win?

Netflix doesn’t just want to be recognized as a legitimate filmmaking operation—it wants to convince the industry’s big guns that it is the lodestar of Hollywood’s future. Although Roma won three Oscars on Sunday for Best Cinematography, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Director, Netflix stood to gain more had Roma walked off with the coveted Best Picture award.

A win could have convinced more of Hollywood’s top-tier talent to sign 360 deals with Netflix, as well as given a boost to its subscriber base. Still, benefits were to be had: Netflix stock rose significantly following the Oscars. With that in mind, Sarandos wasn’t just being frivolous with Netflix’s checkbook. As Amazon and Disney have started to ramp up their video streaming efforts, Netflix needs to do everything it can to prepare for more market saturation. 

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The Distribution Dogfight

Compared with Netflix, many of the industry’s players operate like beached whales. Movie attendance in the United States is dismally low. Traditional network ratings are collapsing. And despite high net international grosses generated by blockbuster films, the ubiquity of such films is overcrowding release-date schedules, resulting in friction among the big six majors: Paramount, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Disney and Universal.

Since Netflix distributes all of its content online, it ingeniously avoids the fraught issues that come with being a physical studio. Moreover, Netflix can afford to produce more cinematic lemons than its competitors because failure costs them less. Although there is a slog of subpar Netflix Originals within its extensive catalog—movies like Bright and The Cloverfield Paradox are examples of films that were critically panned—the streaming service can still get eyes on these projects by targeting precise niches through data mining and algorithms.

Another major difference between a bad Netflix production and, say, one created by Warner Bros., is that the former charges its audience only $10 a month for that lackluster viewing experience; if the subscriber doesn’t like one film, they can simply sift through Netflix’s endless coffer to find another one. It is a matter of selection versus curation, and as evinced by ebbing theatrical attendance in North America, audiences have chosen Netflix’s cheaper, democratic ecosystem over a $15 movie ticket.

Much of the hatred encircling Netflix has been aimed at its unsavory distribution methods. Contrary to industry standards, Netflix decided that a scanty three-week run of Roma in November qualified it for awards season. Eventually, they expanded to 600 theaters in mid-December, but they decided to debut Roma on the online platform at the same time, adding to the general confusion about where moviegoers could see Cuarón’s magnum opus. In Hollywood, there is an unspoken agreement that studios and networks must play films at an exhibitor’s venue for 90 days before it is available on streaming services. As a result of Netflix’s consistently failing to comply with this window rule, it has become the bane of many theater owners.

Despite Netflix’s influence and deep pockets, not every theater chain is acquiescing to its demands. In Mexico, Cinépolis refused to show Roma, while Regal, AMC and Cinemark also took a firm stance against Netflix’s erratic maneuvering. Two years ago, Netflix’s widely celebrated Okja was booed at the Cannes Film Festival, causing them to pull out of the competition prematurely. Even Steven Spielberg recently took thinly veiled shots at Netflix during an acceptance speech, implying that Netflix has precipitated a tragedy: the demise of the traditional moviegoing experience.

But what is ironic about Spielberg’s criticism is that he is attacking what has arguably become one of the industry’s only viable platforms for independent cinema. Roma might have been showered with film festival awards, but without the financial backing of Netflix, it is unlikely that the black-and-white epic would have amounted to a major cultural moment, which ultimately pressured the Academy to put the film up for four awards. Netflix is emerging as one of cinema’s incubators for directorial passion projects and independent films, doing away with much of the creative balking and red tape traditional studios have exacerbated in recent years. Maybe we should be supporting that while holding Netflix accountable to continuing the mission that properly honors tragically dying genres.

Scale, Scale, Scale

Netflix’s top priority is to keep consumers away from cable providers and alternative streaming services. In other words, the company cares more about the quantity of hours spent on its platform, not the quality of the time spent. It is why Netflix is so willing to outspend its competition. In a digital age where a surplus of content is merely a prerequisite to getting a consumer in the door, this incredibly expensive tactic is geared toward Netflix’s ultimate dream: to be the all-powerful, one-stop destination for all video content. The cost? Billions upon billions of dollars. One interpretation of this strategy is that by compiling the best and biggest Rolodex of mainstream and niche films, Netflix can fully dominate the market, effectively pulverizing its competition out of existence. A scary thought.

Nick Baron

Netflix makes very small profit margins, and its success will only continue if it reaches its projected 201 million subscriber goal by 2023. It’s a risky go-big-or-go-home strategy. 

Netflix is often panned for being too greenlight happy, approving shows that are C-rated at best, but its massive subscriber base and ingenious categorization method (e.g., critically acclaimed films, film noir, martial arts movies) allow the company to easily target demographics who will enjoy the “long tail” of its content. Unlike the networks and studios, Netflix doesn’t have to make sweeping gestures to draw in broad demographic groups. In fact, such a strategy would be antithetical to Netflix’s goal: They are people pleasers at their core and want every subscriber to feel like their streaming experience is personalized. It doesn’t matter if some of Netflix’s shows aren’t up to snuff, because there will always be a small group of subscribers they appeal to, making even the most deplorable cinematic desires feel welcomed.

Netflix’s Future and the Meaning of Disruption

What constitutes disruption in the modern film business? Does it look like Netflix’s earning five awards at the Golden Globes last month, the most for any studio or network? Or how about that time Netflix received 14 Primetime Emmy nominations for hit series House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black? Perhaps disruption is Netflix’s market cap value encroaching on Disney’s, forcing the storied studio to funnel billions of dollars into developing its own OTT service. In this context, disruption proves to be a debacle for those not facilitating it. It forces the once principal players into a corner, pressuring them to completely rethink the strategies that guided them toward success in the first place.

Since debuting its streaming service Watch Now in 2007, Netflix has drastically transformed the filmmaking industry, creating astonishing shareholder value, profoundly improving television quality, inventing the television bingeing phenomenon, pioneering the standard of personalized viewing through data, forever altering windows for theatrical films and rendering ratings essentially irrelevant. But Netflix still needs to tread carefully going forward. Heavyweights like Disney, Warner Media, Apple, Comcast and, perhaps its biggest threat, the like-minded Amazon are all gunning for the number one position. Netflix also makes very small profit margins, and its success will only continue if it reaches its projected 201 million subscriber goal by 2023. It is a risky go-big-or-go-home strategy, but in an entertainment industry where media companies are consolidating their resources and merging into these colossal corporations, Netflix can’t just swing for the fences.

Netflix has to try to buy the whole damn park.