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Volume 481

Vibrating shirts, French Fry fragrant billboards, and the taste of decadence: this week’s coolsh*t is offering you a sensory overload. We’ve also got footwear from the future, some Tony Soprano-core, and a royal disappointment. RIP Neom, we hardly knew thee.

AI Max.

Nike employ approximately 83,700 people worldwide… and not one of them was responsible for this new range of AI-designed shoes. Ouch. That means roughly 83,688 employees just found out that their company board considers them less capable than a computer program. I’m not sure how many people sit on a company board so I just subtracted the number of apostles. Who would that make Jesus in this scenario? Dunno, but it’s now occurring to me that the Jordan logo is basically an inverted crucifix. Coincidence? I think not. To misquote Ayn Rand: there are no coincidences, only flawed premises.

As part of their Olympic-themed showcase in Paris, Nike debuted A.I.R, a new collection of 13 concept sneakers designed by AI… from man-made sketches informed by conversations with real athletes such as Eliud Kipchoge and Erling Haaland.

Phew, we’re not obsolete quite yet. Result. Add that to last week’s revelation that Amazon Fresh’s AI-driven ‘just walk out’ supermarkets are actually powered not by futuristic software but by thousands of employees in Indian warehouses watching CCTV footage all day. Big W for humanity. We’re on a roll.

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End of the Line.

This story isn’t so much coolsh*t as it is a mea culpa. For the last couple years we could have reasonably been described as NEOM evangelists. Well, we owe you all an apology, because it turns out the whole thing was basically just a load of bollocks.

This edifice of the future was built upon a foundation of lies (as well as fairly relaxed labour laws and probably a body or two), with plans for ‘The Line’ having this week been scaled back from 170km to just 2.4km. That’s like ordering a Filet Mignon and getting a Filet-o-fish. Actually, it’s worse. More like ordering a Filet Mignon and having the waiter immediately spit in your face and comment on your shit haircut and silly moustache. And with NEOM having now been revealed to be an overambitious shisha-pipedream, we’ll admit we look rather foolish for believing it in the first place. You mean to say this thing that never looked possible apparently isn’t possible? I’ll be darned.

We’re choosing to chalk this teachable moment off as an opportunity for enforced consciousness expansion. Next time something seems too good to be true, it might be. And if something is redolent with the whiff of unrealistic soft diplomacy, trust your nose. We dared to dream, and we’ve ended up with egg on our face. Never again. Exclusively blunt-nosed cynicism from here on out. You have shattered our heart into a million pieces and scattered them into the wind, NEOM. We may never love again.

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I'm Sniffin' It.

Picture the scene. It’s 10:32am, Friday morning. Your head’s throbbing. Your alarm’s blaring. What started as one thirsty Thursday post-work pint ended with you upside-down drinking Whispering Angel through a funnel. You were meant to start work over an hour ago. Your boss is blowing up your phone attempting to ascertain your whereabouts so they can calibrate the politic response on the continuum from concerned to furious. And… what’s that smell? You’re getting notes of… seed oils, sodium and questionable animal husbandry. It can only be one thing. Shit, why’s there a half-eaten Big Mac in the bed?

The odour of a Maccies is unmistakable. It’s one of the few fragrances capable of being both enticing and revolting depending on the context. You may love it, you may hate it, but you will almost certainly recognise it. We’re like finely-bred truffle pigs when it comes to sniffing out that divine poison. It’s a beautifully destructive oxymoron, like nitro-glycerine in a frock.

McDonald’s Amsterdam have turned this brand truth into a brand asset, launching the world’s first olfactory OOH ads through a series of billboards that diffuse the scent of French fries to innocent passers-by. And, unsurprisingly, most of those passers-by were helplessly drawn to the boards like flies to a nice pile of fresh excrement. Poor bastards never stood a chance. Having now established dominion over the realms of taste, sight, sound and smell, McDonald’s only require the final infinity stone of touch to conclude their quest for total sensorial hegemony. Gulp.

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Salvador Deli.

With NEOM in the toilet, AI getting boring and MSCHF having gone a bit mainstream, we’re on the look-out for a new coolsh*t muse. Suitable partners must be interesting, slightly dystopian, and ideally over 6’2. Timewasters need not enquire.

Someone who meets none of those criteria but who keeps blessing our feeds is one Mr. Colm Dillane, founder and creative director of the LVMH-prize-winning fashion brand KidSuper.

From inexplicably collaborating with Barnsley FC to walking the runway with Ronaldinho (who promises he definitely declared his earnings for that appearance) to hosting a fashion show disguised as a stand-up show, KidSuper inhabits a space of unapologetic maximalism amidst a sea of blandified quiet luxury. And now, Colm and KidSuper are back with a mobster-inspired capsule in collaboration with PUMA.

Tracksuits, tiny coffees, deli meats, alarmingly quiet women, kidnapped magistrates – and that’s just what was on Ronaldinho’s rider. Colm does it again. Put that down as a win for people with funny names. NEOM, who?

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Back to Asics.

Anima Sana In Corpore Sano. A Sound Mind in a Sound Body. When that maxim was first coined by the ancient Roman satirist Juvenal, not even in his wildest dreams did he imagine that it would one day provide the founding philosophy and nominative acronym for a Japanese running brand. Ancient wisdom, modern technology. Boshius.

As far as brand attitudes go, it’s not a bad one. The ancient conception of physical and mental well-being as being inextricably intertwined is far more compelling than the fallacious modern bifurcation thereof. Philosophers used to be warrior poets, not pensioners in plaid trousers drinking herbal tea. They’re not even really teas. Infusions, technically. Eugh. I blame microplastics.

None of that has much to do with this story about a $29,000 pearl-covered pair of Tasaki x ASICS GT-2160, but it’s not every day you get to proselytise on topics nobody cares about to a captive audience. Want to buy ‘em? Too bad. They’re not even for sale. We’ve completely wasted your time and we’re not sorry.

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Having once spent 90 minutes being subjected to torrents of vitriol from their travelling fans, I’m loath to give Newcastle United any credit for anything. I’m sure I would have been very offended had I been able to understand anything they were saying. Barely a full set of teeth between the lot of them. But coolsh*t is a professional outfit, and we dare not be so petty as to allow a decade-old personal grievance get in the way of sharing a good story.

Last weekend Newcastle debuted their new “haptic” kits, which use sensors that vibrate when action takes place on the pitch to allow deaf supporters to better experience the atmosphere in the stadium. And clearly karma is real, potent and instant, because Newcastle then went on to absolutely batter Tottenham 4-0. Spursy. That’s a hell of a lot of vibrating though. Those poor fans’ insides must have looked like a trifle that had been thrown down the stairs by full time.

If only there were a kit designed for the blind to cater for the droves of Everton fans who are currently ripping their eyeballs out each week. One day.

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