Tiny waist, wide hips, pumped-up lips and a head full of air.
I could be describing a blow-up sex doll. Or thanks to the marvels of plastic surgery, any given member of the Kardashian family.
Being frank, Kim, Kourtney and Khloe, along with their half-sisters Kylie and Kendall, have really made a living off looking as tastefully plastic as possible.
Over the past decade, they’ve popularised a new kind of femininity. A carefully curated, highly-sexualised and ultra-materialistic aesthetic that is flaunted for all to see. The Kardashians are in 2019 what Marilyn Monroe was in 1950. A shining beacon for modern beauty — except this time around it’s far more artificial and vastly more expensive.
It doesn’t seem to matter that their personalities are vapid. Or that they don’t use words over two syllables. Or even that their lives are absorbed with nothing but interpersonal drama. In fact, it works to their advantage.
As Barbara Walters astutely noted in an interview with the Kardashians back in 2011:
‘You don’t act, you don’t sing, you don’t dance, you don’t have any…forgive me…any talent!’
Put that way, the absence of talent is glaringly obvious. But it doesn’t explain Kim Kardashian’s net worth of $350 million. Or the family’s combined social media following of well over a billion people.
Upon further inspection, there’s clearly skill in their impenetrable, glamourous façade. The eye candy of their glossed, botoxed lips and skin-tight clothing has the power to draw in the masses and open their wallets. And has people scrambling to buy waist trainers and appetite-suppressing lollipops to get a taste of the Kardashian look.
So even though their TV show and personalities are mind-numbingly dull, perhaps there is talent in vanity. Because through all of the narcissism, they’ve stretched their 15 minutes of fame into over a decade, and built an empire of influence (and cash) that could rival any queen — past or present.
And like it or not, they’re only getting more powerful.
A new kind of young money
According to a Forbes article published this week, Kylie Jenner has now surpassed Mark Zuckerberg to become the youngest self-made billionaire of all time.
The stunning success of her makeup brand, Kylie Cosmetics, is the primary factor driving her wealth. She started the company in 2015 and owns 100% of it, outsourcing most of the production and manufacturing to Seed Beauty. Aside from that, the company has very low operating costs, employing only seven full time staff.
Last year alone, Kylie Cosmetics made $508 million in sales. A fact which was no doubt aided by Jenner’s massive social media following (she has 175 million followers across Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter) through which she markets her products.
Her main clientele is young, fashion-conscious women who also have a taste for pop culture. But as you’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard the name ‘Kylie Jenner’, it’s clear her reach is only expanding.
As a result, at age 21, Jenner was able to beat Zuckerberg who became a billionaire at 23.
Although there has been some debate over whether Kylie could truly be classified as ‘self-made’ — since she received a substantial boost from her Kardashian relatives — there’s one fact that remains undisputed.
Beauty is booming.
Now, at first glance, it appears as if the sector is on a downslide. Retail stores are shuttering their doors, and malls are a ghost town.
The stats also confirm that retail is gasping for air. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Aussie retail sales only grew by 0.1% during January, after falling 0.4% in December — the likely culprit being low wage growth and meagre household savings across the board.
As a result, once-loved brands like Napoleon Perdis, Pumpkin Patch, Toys ‘R’ Us, Doughnut Time and Roger David have all closed their doors.
As Pippa Kulmar, director of consultancy firm Retail Oasis outlines:
‘We’ve all of a sudden gone from a market that’s been fairly protected…to one where we now not only have this kind of open border with online, where you can shop anywhere in the world, but equally on your high street or in your mall you now have international competition.’
While this added competition no doubt makes it harder for the vast majority of retailers, it also means that those few star players, like Kylie Cosmetics, rise hard and fast to the top.
Those companies that understand the fickleness of trends and the desire for consumers to keep up with them, can achieve success never before seen. Eye-catching innovation and social media presence can garner a following that surpasses any traditional form of advertising. And has the possibility to last indefinitely.
This week in Money Morning
You don’t need to be a genius if you want to make it in the game of investing. You don’t need an IQ of 160 to make money in stocks. But what you do need, as Harje wrote on Monday, is good temperament. If you can keep a cool head, you can access investment opportunities that other traders wouldn’t even dream of touching.
To read the full story, click here.
The Donald makes bold claims. But he knows what he’s doing. Right now, two things are making Trump upset. Higher interest rates and a strong dollar. Both of which are conveniently out of his control. Which is why, as Harje wrote on Tuesday, Trump continues to say the American economy only has one problem: the Fed.
To learn more, click here.
Every time something devastating happens, governments see it as an opportunity to expand power. It’s for the good of the people, they say. And as Harje wrote on Wednesday, this is exactly what the US government is doing by banning Huawei.
To read the full story, click here.
Then on Thursday, Harje wrote about the importance of confidence. Confidence encourages investors to invest and borrowers to borrow. Why would you put your money in stocks if you thought they were going to fall? Confidence, or lack of it, is why people aren’t piling into crypto anymore. And it’s also why the Aussie housing market is on the decline…
To learn more, click here.
You’ve likely heard of trickle-down economics. But what about trickle-up economics? The former is where you make things easier on corporations and the super wealthy. Usually this is through tax cuts. The latter is the opposite. Forget the rich. By-pass all that stuff and just give the benefits directly to the poor. But as Harje questioned on Friday, is that really the strategy that’s going to help the down trodden?
To read more, click here.
Until next week,
Editor, Money Weekend