07 May 2015

The Modern Mugger

Image: Julia Pancova/Fulcrum
Originally published in BULL Magazine
With huge advancements in surveillance technology and the growth of security measures in the modern age, one might expect the general population to be forgoing thievery and shoplifting, leaving it behind as a guilty relic of childhood – pocketed Chupa Chups from the local convenience store or a Lip Smackers from Priceline.
However, reports from Australian security firm Checkpoint have revealed that Australian businesses are losing up to $2.4 billion per year to thieves and “five-finger discounters” intent on stealing for both personal enjoyment as well as financial gain from on-selling stolen merchandise. The global growth of online platforms such as eBay has also resulted in an easier method for thieves to ‘re-distribute’ and resell products on an international scale.
In June this year, more than 100 people were arrested in a police operation targeting active shoplifters in Sydney’s CBD and Eastern Suburbs. Over five days, ‘Operation Lightfingers’ lead to the discovery of approximately $9300 in stolen retail goods with alleged offenders brazenly attempting to pull off repeat thefts at the same stores. Far from professional thieves, the majority of those arrested were ordinary citizens, stealing ordinary goods such as food and perfume.
Redfern Region Enforcement Squad Commander Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Bell told the Daily Telegraph this year, “An increase in pedestrian traffic and busy customer service staff is often seen as an opportunity for light-fingered people to take things from the store without paying for it. […] Improved surveillance technology and expert skills of store security and loss prevention officers have made a significant impact on retail theft; however, it is still costing the industry billions of dollars every year.”
It seems that this kind of retail theft isn’t just limited to New South Wales, or even Australia as a whole. An entire international community dedicated to shoplifting was found, lovingly termed ‘lifting’ by the users. With pseudonym usernames like ‘Klepto Bunny’, ‘Stealth Wealth’ and ‘Lifting Cutie’, the group has members from USA, the United Kingdom and Australia.
Informally referred to as Tumblr’s very own “Bling Ring”, a term coined by fellow online observers of the community, the global gang lives up to the exploits of real-life teenager celebrity thieves from Los Angeles in 2009. Using hash tags like #fivefingerdiscount and #lifters, and having developed their very own lexicon to describe their antics, these online shoplifting teenagers regularly post photographs of their “hauls” and tally up their “total damage” in a strange effort to foster competition.
Members reblog tips on how to better shoplift, recommending different tools for removing security devices and advising fellow lifters on which stores are particularly susceptible to theft. It might sound like a forum for professionals but the average age of these posters are in their teens, which can be expected from the nature and brands of the stolen goods.
While most posts are makeup hauls from pharmacies, or basic clothing hauls, some of the more bold members of the lifting community have tallied single-day exploits into the thousands of dollars, stealing even luxury branded shoes from an American department store. Holding a rather skewed view, the members egg each other on, with one UK lifter writing in May, “I think I’m gonna scope out some designer patches of the department stores near here [because] let’s face it I’m far too good for the H&M stuff I’m used to lifting and this community deserves more from me.”
Posting carefully worded disclaimers on their blogs, the teens suggest that they are simply role-playing fictional lives, having pre-purchased the items for their blogging enjoyment. “This is a blog for all of my fictional endeavours” writes 19-year-old Olivia, about a post of a haul worth close to US$200. And yet, disappointed, she captions it a “super boring tiny” haul, suggesting it is anything but fictional.
And even for the few members of the community who acknowledge the illegality of shoplifting, they appear to have internally justified their actions. One user ranted to her followers: “Basically what I’m saying is taking a 40 dollar pair of shorts from the local Macy’s is nothing compared to crimes like doing illegal drugs, murder, and rape.” While another commented, “Haha yeah, I want to work 14 hours at [a store] so I can get one [makeup] palette. Or, I could steal like at least three in 12 whole minutes if I really wanted to.


Originally published in BULL Magazine

If you ever bothered to take a quick look at Instagram’s terms of use (or, that not-so-little thing you clicked through and agreed to when you first made your account), bullet point number 2 states, “You may not post… nude [or] partially nude… photos or other content”. In a different scenario, this might seem like a fair call. In the world of Instagram however, especially with its close ties to the fashion industry, this appears to be an unjustified policy that is currently policed too heavily.

Particularly since the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) just launched an award entitled ‘Fashion Instagrammer of the Year’ in May, fashion and Instagram have naturally solidified an intense love affair. Yet many within the industry have fallen afoul of Instagram’s nudity policy. American Vogue’s iconic Grace Coddington felt the sting, as a self-portrait supporting her Paddle 8 “No Clothes Auction” she posted resulted in the deactivation of her newly formed account due to her supposed transgression of the no-nudity policy. Though if you look at the sketch, it’s nothing but a small drawing, and the violation occurring as two lines with dots.

While I have little desire to post anything even reaching the realms of a casual nip-slip online, it seems bizarre that Instagram has been so heavy-handed with efforts in regulating nudity, particularly when there seems to be little issue taken with images of male shirtless selfies at the gym. Rather, it has been female topless nudity that has been targeted. Models such as Anja Rubik and blogs such as Into the Glosshave been flagged for their nudity within an industry that prizes the human body and revolves around interacting with a stripped aesthetic. Let alone the masked sexism that Instagram is perpetuating by policing the female body.

Indeed, it seems that with the growing popularity of social media as a platform not just for the general public but now also for industry use, the terms need to be re-defined. In the wise words of leaders Badgirlriri and Scout Willis, current champions for the pro-female campaign on Instagram, #FREETHENIPPLE.

22 October 2013

ollie my gollie

ft. Triangl, any 'Ollie' bikini

Essentially the bikini of the summer. Mix n match the colours for a fun pop. Need I say anymore?

15 October 2013

strap me stupid

ft. Lily, Windsor Smith

A li(ly)ttle late but better late than never.

This is the shoe snob's answer to the jelly sandal that flip flopped its way back into every 90s kids' heart, presenting a solution to the burning desire for a comfortable shoe that cannot also be found in a four-year-old's wardrobe (excluding Ms A. Wang). Pick a platform height and you're ready to go.

01 October 2013

buffy buffet

ft. Givenchy

Does anyone else remember these and the numerous copies they spawned?

If you don't, go to just about every blogger's archive, circa 2010.

We've seen the wondrous revival of spikes and studs (spike me baby, oh yeah) and funky headgear this year so I thought today's post would be a nice homage to the original. All hail.