The mystic of American made products have always been interesting to me. Companies can get away with outsourcing by stating it’s designed in America. Some companies can get products 90% completed and have shipped to their home countries for finalization, but only then can the company say the product was made in America or Italy, etc.

American Apparel has been strongly stead forward with their vertical integration strategy of American manufactured clothing. The company has been known to produce clothing, such as t-shirts, hoodies, and underwear, in their factory in LA. They produced their own clothing, have in-house dye facilities, and shipped to their own retail stores. The company can respond quickly to trends and be able to stay ahead of the curve against competitors who may typical see months of planning before production and then retail.

Unfortunately, according to a recent Los Angeles Times interview, internal and external pressures are causing the company to take a long hard look at outsourcing production to overseas factories. Financial strains are the main culprits of these problems. Posting strong revenues, the company face overhead expenses befitting their quality American made strategy.

Can you still call the company American Apparel if it’s not fully made in America?

So Microsoft dropped a bombshell on the tech industry on Monday. A secretive, but well speculated and informed bombshell. The Surface is probably the most important product launch for Microsoft since the original Xbox.

This is not the first time that Microsoft has tried Tablet PCs. Their first effort were hardware driven products with patched on hand writing recognition features. Clunky devices that were more laptop than true tablets of today. Microsoft would have been more successful if the product was more integrated.

Make no bones about it, Microsoft is still all about the software. But for a company known for 3 decades as a software company, suddenly making hardware products is a big leap. Microsoft used to just license software and wait for hardware manufactures to create and innovate around their product. With this strategy, there was not an harmonious connection between hardware and software. Windows based PCs feel like clobbered messes. Junk software wth mix and match hardware. Microsoft is taking a stronger control with their overall product presentation. Their own software and hardware in a strong synergetic fit.

Microsoft has also been known to have one of the most confusing product segmentations in the tech industry. Windows 7 comes in 6 flavors with also 3 additional sub editions. Microsoft thankfully avoided that with the surface and Windows 8. 4 editions of Windows 8 and there are only two flavors of their tablet, Surface and Surface Pro. No more confusion and regrettable decisions at the computer store. You’re either a basic user who only wants the essentials or someone who knows their way around the computer and wants full power. This is a sign of the evolution at Microsoft.

No longer a broken company with a disjointed company culture, Microsoft now has a strong design and software language.  The future is strong for Microsoft and the technology industry as a whole. Competition is strong and innovations are coming. Android and iOS are at the top, but Windows Phone 8 is a strong product. Microsoft has answered the Mobile challenge and they are coming in strong.

This blog is about my love for consumerism and branding. I believe that every one of us is a Kaibutsu (Monster) Consumer. We all have wants, needs, and desires. Our culture facilitates a gluttonous haven for these human characteristics.

I started this blog because I wanted to write what I thought were cool, interesting, and desirable. I still have that desire. But I want to discuss and analyze what consumers and cultures, importantly, find cool, interesting, and desirable. Music, Fashion, Technology, Cars, etc. I want to learn and analyze how our consumer minds work. I also want to learn about how companies are changing their tactics. Companies and Industries have a strong sense of what consumers want. At least they used to. Their is a shift in how consumers consume and producers produce. No longer are products thrown down our throats and expected to be the de facto choices for consumers. This is interests me.

Follow me as I bring this desire back to life.

Thank you, Rob Walker, rediscovering your book about Brands and Consumers, Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are, brought back a fire I deeply needed.

Jay Electronica is the hardest working emcee in America. There I said it. I am now officially on the Jay Electronica bandwagon.

Every song is something totally unique. Every song is a another heart beat for hip hop. Every song is proof that this MC knows how to rap and will kill your favorite rapper.

Jay Electronica may not get Lil Weezy sales, but he is the hardest working rapper out there. No doubt. Finito. It’s over.

Oh, and I’m definitely going to buy this shirt.

Saw this on prollyisnotprobably, a couple days of ago. The CW&T Blockhead Steam is a nice little addition to any bike, fixed gear mostly. I’ve been trying to save a few here and there, but I think this stem is just to good to pass up. Probably wait a few more paychecks to cop, but I definitely want this on my bike. I just love how simple the industrial design is. Plus the added benefit of having a integrated brake lever is icing on the cake.