Mainstream pop culture's dying, and that's manifesting in interesting and unexpected ways

A newsletter about
culture, tech, luxury,
travel, media and more

What you want to know
in 5 minutes, sent 3x a week

A standard room at the upcoming Mondrian Abu Dhabi (Ennismore / Business Traveller)

🔼 Silicon Valley Bank baseball hats. The bank’s collapse is fuelling demand for its corporate merch »»

🔽 Sales of Vans. The sneaker brand knows you’re sick of their shoes »» 🔐

💬 It “is as fundamental as the creation of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the Internet, and the mobile phone." Bill Gates has been thinking a lot about AI »»

🛩️ Boutique hotels firm Ennismore is bringing the Mondrian hotel to Abu Dhabi »»

👗 Telfar’s new pricing model will give shoppers the power to determine how expensive items are »»

💎 Rolls-Royce is building just 12 of its last ever V12 coupe. The paint job alone took 18 months to perfect »»

One Wall Street, a quintessential Art Deco New York office tower, has been converted into apartments. With 566 new homes, it is the largest building in the city to undergo this type of adaptive reuse (Colin Miller / Dezeen)

A new app called Hypertype wants to help you write your emails 10x faster using AI and your own email history »»

The world’s 10 best places to live, based on healthcare, culture, infrastructure, and more »»

Gen Z is coming for the housing market »»

ChatGPT shut down due to a bug that exposed user chat histories »»

Google opened a waitlist for its ChatGPT competitor Bard »»

When we’re looking at generative AI, what are we actually looking at? »»

One Wall Street, a famous Art Deco office tower, completed its conversion into luxury apartments »»

Succession held its fourth and final season premiere »»

TikTok bans are spreading »»

How TikTok broke social media »» 🔐 

Chelsea plans to demolish its longtime stadium Stamford Bridge for a £2b replacement »»

Open offices cause productivity and health problems. New insights from Deaf and autistic communities could fix them »»

Blackberry Ltd. is selling almost US$1b worth of patents »»

Is India’s MrBeast a selfless saint, or a fame-hungry vlogger? »»

Mainstream pop culture's dying, and that's manifesting in interesting and unexpected ways. Who’s profiting from it all? It could be you

Foot Locker is closing 400 mall stores to shift its focus to niche shops for sneakerheads, kids, and higher-income shoppers (Foot Locker)

WE’RE LIVING THROUGH a wild sociological experiment.

  • Mainstream pop culture is dying.

  • To some, it's already dead.

DON'T TAKE IT from me.

  • Listen to the 91% of 18-25 year olds who "say there's no such thing as 'mainstream' pop culture."

  • "Of all Gen Z's defining characteristics, perhaps the most important is the degree to which popular culture and counterculture have been replaced by a passion for subcultures and niche communities," says the firm who organized that poll.

  • And this passion extends far beyond media.


  • As I've written, 60% of the company's revenue comes from cold drinks, not hot ones.

  • And a huge portion of those are totally customized —exactly how Starbucks' younger customer base wants things.

  • Just like our TikTok For You pages, our YouTube and Netflix home screens, and our Spotify daily mixes are.

OTHER LARGE FIRMS are noticing, and it's fascinating.

  • Take Foot Locker.

  • The popular footwear and apparel retailer has well over 3,000 locations around the world, mostly in North American, Western European, and Asian malls.

  • But change is coming to Foot Locker, and what they have in store (sorry) is super interesting.

  • The company's new CEO said they'll close more than 400 mall stores as they "'reset' the company."

THE INTERESTING PART isn't the closures.

  • It's the fact that Foot Locker plans to open more than 300 new "concept" stores by 2026.

  • What’s the concept, you ask?

  • Get ready for 15,000-square-foot "community" Foot Lockers, to be put in areas with "strong affinity for sneakers."

  • For context, that's a really, really, really huge Foot Locker. Current stores tend to run between 2,200 and 2,500 square feet.

  • There are also 10,000-square-foot "power stores" providing an "elevated experience," and 7,500 square-foot kids oriented "house of play" Foot Lockers in the works.


  • We don't watch the same shows, listen to the same music, or order the same coffees as one another.

  • Now, where we live and what we're into will even determine what our local Foot Lockers look like.

UM, IS ALL this good or bad?

  • Well, people talk about how cultural fragmentation can make education harder, for instance. This makes logical sense. Fewer shared references may make it more difficult for educators to engage students.

  • Intergenerational communication can suffer too, as anyone who's tried to explain the basis of a trending TikTok sound to a grandparent can probably attest.


  • As culture diversifies, the creative economy will continue to decentralize.

  • Generative AI is fueling this too:

  • Advanced creation tools make it easier than ever for you, me, or anyone with any kind of creative impulse to make any kind of creative output —from music, to visual art, to long form fiction, to animated films.

  • That, times a whole load of new microniches will equal a greater number of smaller-scale creators and producers finding success.

OK, WHAT'S THE point here?

  • As the cultural landscape becomes more fragmented, and niche interests become more prominent, there will be plenty of new opportunities for people and companies.

  • Niche, small scale content creators are already using digital distribution sites like Gumroad, Patreon, and Substack to generate income from their content by way of subscriptions, donations, or pay-per-view videos.

  • Pro tip: Unlike social media apps, these platforms give creators a direct relationship with their audience. That allows creators to monetize what they make without worrying about falling out of favor with the algorithm, or —worse— having the whole platform discontinued (Vine) or banned in their home country (TikTok, maybe).


  • Really entrepreneurial creators offer consulting or coaching off the backs of their Substack newsletters and Gumroad courses.

  • Doing this helps other people who are eager to monetize their own interests or skills, but it also (obviously) gives creators another revenue stream.

  • Plus, look around. Online courses and instructional YouTube videos are so much more than sales tactics and AI prompt writing.

  • People with deep knowledge of a particular subculture, or an artistic movement, are already monetizing what's in their minds with workshops or step by step classes, all aimed at would be creators looking to deepen their understanding or improve their abilities.

  • The market for all of this will only expand.

AND WHAT IF you don't have a creative impulse?

  • Non creative entrepreneurs can capitalize too.

  • Though we're living more of our lives online, there's still plenty of demand for real life meetups and experiences.

  • Non creative entrepreneurs can capitalize on the ceaseless crush of interest in niche content by organizing events and experiences that cater to their communities of makers and fans.

  • Picture conferences, workshops, meetups, or even casual immersive experiences that bring people with shared interests and passions together.

  • Or, entrepreneurs could consider developing niche e-commerce platforms, as the demand for specialty products and services grows.

BOTTOM LINE: MODERN life is rapidly refocusing around narrower interests, content, and services.

  • Don't sleep on the gigantic, society-level change that's coming already here.

  • Even Foot Locker isn't.


Foot Locker to close 400 mall stores as it shifts focus to niche shops for sneakerheads, kids, and higher-income shoppers »»

Marketing to Gen Z: Subcultures are the new demographics »»

Written by Jon Kallus. Any feedback? Simply reply.

Join the conversation

or to participate.