Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
If you've got $2, an e-reader, and an interest in behind-the-scenes fashion stories, then you should download former Critical Shopper Mike Albo's new Kindle single The Junket. The 41-page short is a "totally fictional novella" about a freelance writer named Mike Albo who loses his job reviewing stores for a major New York City newspaper after he accepts a free trip to Jamaica from a men's newsletter called Dudester. If this sounds a lot like what happened to the real Mike Albo after he went on a Thrillist junket, well, Albo admits that the book is really "a memoir with a fictional $3,000 sheer Thai silk veil lightly draped over it."
In addition to being full of entertaining media satire, The Junket asks some tough questions about fashion's swag economy. Albo writes honestly about what it's like to get plied with expensive freebies when you're barely making enough money to pay your rent. He doesn't get into the bloggers-vs-editors disclosure debates of the past year. But he makes a pretty convincing argument that he was fired not because he accepted a junket, but because blogs like Gawker (sorry, that would be fictional gossip side Jabber) noticed he was involved and called him out.
This might all read like inside baseball, but it has an impact on the general shopping public. An environment where style writers are encouraged to keep quiet about swag is an environment where brands can safely trade gifts for coverage. Albo might say that he's draping a veil over his whole story, but in talking publicly about fashion's culture of undisclosed freebies, he's also pulling back the curtain.
· The Junket [Amazon]
· Albo Ousted from NYT [Racked NY]
· Why Does the FTC Mandate that Bloggers Disclose Freebies & Samples When Print Writers/Editors Don't: We Ask an FTC Lawyer [Racked]