Politics is a dangerous game: Rajinikanth

Photographs by Bandeep Singh

Will he, won’t he? Southern superstar Rajinikanth has exhibited Hamletian indecision about pursuing a political career ever since he announced he was joining the fray in December 2017. So far, he has not even announced the name of his political party, choosing instead to deploy his massive fan following under the umbrella of his Rajini Makkal Mandrams and using them to build a cadre of party workers across Tamil Nadu. Meanwhile, the ageing star (he is 67) continues to do what he knows best-make iconic films. His latest-2.0, releasing November 29-has a monster Rs 540 crore budget, possibly the costliest Indian film ever made. A sci-fi thriller, it is a sequel to the blockbuster Enthiran (Robot), where Rajini played a double role, one as a robot replica of himself. His political fortunes now ride on the success of 2.0. If it proves to be another superhit, it will put his entry into Tamil Nadu’s political arena on the fast track. The star has always been cagey about his political plans. But in an in-depth interview at his home in Poes Garden (close to former chief minister J. Jayalalithaa’s), Rajinikanth spoke candidly to India Today not only about his life and films but also his political vision for Tamil Nadu, and a range of burning public issues. Excerpts:

Q. Despite your age, you continue to exude tremendous energy and passion in your films. Where does it come from?

A. In the beginning, I took to acting for a livelihood. Thereafter, I met the needs of my life. Now, I am enjoying it. It is entertaining to me. It is not like a profession. If I treat it like a profession, then work becomes a burden. Now it is like a game, it is relaxing. That’s probably where I get my energy from, from that thought.

Q. What kind of movies do you enjoy doing the most these days?

A. Comedy. I am very comfortable doing comedy scenes. When I go to the set and they say they are doing comedy scenes today, I jump. It is very difficult to make someone laugh, it is a bigger task. Not the dialogue type of comedy. Situation comedy is more challenging.

Q. Your early life was a struggle, you even worked as a bus conductor. How did that mould your outlook on life?

A. I am grateful to god that I went through all that suffering, those difficulties, which is why I am enjoying this life. [Pointing to the surroundings of his house] Otherwise, I wouldn’t have tasted this. I have known suffering, so I am enjoying this so-called success.

Q. Tell us why and how you took to acting?

A. It is a long story but I will tell you in short-it began with a play I did in Bangalore. Every year, for its anniversary celebration, each depot of the Karnataka transport department [where he worked as a bus conductor] had to stage a play. I chose to play Duryodhana because I was an NTR fan. I was a good imitator and I imitated him on stage. Raj Bahadur [a fellow driver] told me you are fantastic, you are not fit to be here, go to the film institute in Chennai, one day you will become a big actor. He encouraged me, and my brother [Satyanarayana Rao] also supported me financially. I joined the film institute where I met [director] K. Balachander who chose me for a film of his. The rest, as they say, is history.

Q. Who was your role model in acting, especially the style you developed?

A. From the beginning, Sivaji Ganesan. I used to imitate Sivaji. Even in dialogue deliveries. But when I was working with Balachander, it changed. He told me why do you want to imitate Sivaji Ganesan when Sivaji Ganesan is already there? That completely changed me. He identified in me the speed, the fast way I did things or whatever it is I did while acting. He told me: Retain it, that is your originality, your style, this is your hallmark, your signature. And that is how my style came about.

Q. That famous cigarette flip, how did you pick that up?

A. Shatrughan Sinha first did it in a Hindi film. I took it from there and improvised on it. I had to practise it for over a thousand times to perfect it. It is a skill but, more than that, the timing is important. Just not throwing it up, but to deliver the dialogue, the kind of situation and then you flip it.

Q. Your swagger, did you pick that up too?

A. It is not style, it comes to me naturally. People say I am stylish, okay, right.

Q. What is the biggest lesson you have learnt after all these years in your long career?

A. Everything is drama (laughs out loud).

Q. How challenging was acting in 2.0 compared to your other films?

A. 2.0 is a technician’s movie. It is Shankar’s creation, it is completely his picture, he is all in one. Which means we don’t have to do any thinking, we just do what he says, that’s it. He takes full responsibility. In other films, I give my inputs, my thoughts, my imagination, I improvise. I also discuss things with Shankar. But it is 90 per cent his job and he does it well.

Q. 2.0 has climate change as its theme. Are you trying to convey a larger message?

A. It is science fiction. It is a thriller. It is a matter of pride for Indian cinema. It can easily be compared to any Hollywood movie, in its making, in its content and in everything else. It is really an excellent picture.

Q. How is it different from Enthiran?

A. 2.0 is an advanced Enthiran. It is on another level. Now we are dealing with universal issues, it has a larger message.

Q. Do you like to convey messages through your films?

A. Basically, I am an entertainer. A Rajinikanth film means that children, parents, the family come expecting some entertainment. So I have to cater to them. In that, if I get any space to convey a good message, I try to do it.

Q. The late MGR and Karunanidhi used their films to convey political messages. Have you tried to do that?

A. From the beginning, I decided not to mix the two. Entertainment is different and politics entirely different. We should not make use of the entertainment media for that. Of course, some dialogue here and there will happen. How people interpret it and how they take it, we cannot stop. But I won’t do that deliberately.

Q. If you were to assess MGR’s contribution in cinema as well as politics, what would it be?

A. One thing is enough. As a cinema hero-for the first time in the world-he proved that he was a good politician and ruled the state. He proved that an artist can rule a state. That in itself is a very big thing.

Q. Is he in some way a role model for you?

A. For anyone in cinema who wants to enter politics, he is a role model.

Q. What lessons did you learn from MGR?

A. Mainly, his giving, helping nature. He had empathy for the poor and weak…not only after becoming a politician, but even before when he was in the cinema industry. He was known for his humanity and that is what I liked the most about him.

Q. What are your views on Jayalalithaa; she too was in films and came into politics?

A. Whatever else you may say, she was a great lady. Her courage, her determination, I appreciated that.

Q. What about her governance?

A. Governance, I don’t want to talk about now. But her quality of how she ruled and lived, a single woman in a man’s world… that is historic.

Q. You had differences with her. In 1996, you made a statement against her that adversely affected her electoral fortunes. Did you make up with her after that?

A. Ya, ya. She attended my daughter’s marriage. We used to respect her a lot.

Q. Do you consider Kamal Haasan a rival now that both of you have decided to enter politics?

A. Rivals? Not at all. Says who? I won’t even say competitor. My god, he is such a good friend. He is a co-star, in fact, in a serial he would help me even with the dialogue delivery, adjust dates for my sake. He is still a close friend of mine.

Q. What is your impression of Prime Minister Narendra Modi?

A. He seriously wants to do good for the nation, he is trying hard and he is trying his best. That’s all I want to say for now.

Q. MGR was a hero in most of his films and was careful about his screen image. But you have acted as a villain, even drinking and smoking in many of your movies. Will that have an impact on your image as a public persona now that you have announced joining politics?

A. My films are different and my life entirely different. Why should you merge the two? I am paid as an actor for films, whether I like the role or not. If I enter politics, I will be myself. I want to make a difference in politics. Otherwise, why should Rajinikanth join politics? I want to introduce a new and different type of politics. Otherwise, I am 67, my health too is in a check-up stage (chuckles). It is not easy to enter politics at this age, it is not a path of flowers. But still you have to change things, change that will make a difference in politics.

Q. Going by your experience, how is politics different from films?

A. I have not become a full politician as yet. With my little experience of it, I can say, my god, it is tough, really tough. I told you everything is a game, drama. In cinema, everybody is there, the producer, the director, the writer…someone else does the script. Whereas in politics, as a leader, I am the director, the writer, everything… It is very challenging.

Q. In films, your acting is all about being superfast. Yet in politics you are cautious and are not rushing things or speaking about your plans.

A. Politics is a very big game and very dangerous too. So I have to play it cautiously. And timing is very important.

Q. Why did you decide to join politics?

A. It is all god’s will. When I say god, it is an answer. Everything is in that.

Q. You talk a lot of about spiritualism, even when you said you were joining politics. What role does spiritualism play in your life?

A. My elder brother Satyanarayana is a very spiritual person. The Ramakrishna Mission ashram was near my house in Bangalore. When I was around 7 years old, he put me in the Ramakrishna ashram. So from childhood, I had the Vedas, the Upanishads, meditation with me. Later, there were many gurus and I made many trips to the Himalayas. It is a deep subject. Only someone who experiences it knows about it. It is difficult to convey in words. Mainly, you get peace. When your mind is peaceful, whatever you do, you do it well. That is most important.


I was addicted to online shopping! This is how I controlled it

Online shopping, that’s the new bug under the list of behavioural addictions. Some people indulge in it because they hate to invest time and step out to shop, while some do it because of its massive variety and accessibility. However, studies say that the trend has caught particularly with stressed individuals as shopping on the net can provide instant gratification. Whatever the root cause, it is not something that should be taken lightly. A reader of ours, Meha Sindhwani, shares with us her encounter with online shopping addiction and how she chose to combat it.

I have been in a media organization for three years now, the industry that is known to be abreast with everything that goes viral. Also, not to mention, media industry is also known for the high scores of stress it gives to its employees. Though I don’t have hard fact to support my argument but I really think that stress, at least in part, comes from the unfamiliar nature of our job. We never know what may trend or happen in the next second. This has us glued to our seats, overwhelmed by the speed at which the world is moving.Though I like what I do but I would not deny that since the time I have been here, my stress levels have only gone up. I didn’t realize it when it was actually happening but only now that I look in the rear view. And, this stress had many forms of manifestations.

My job required me to stay active on social media platforms. I never realized when I became a junkie from someone who would even browse Facebook just thrice in a week. Being on the mobile so much, I would often browse the various shopping advertisements that showed on my social media feeds. And honestly, I couldn’t help but visit their websites and download their apps.

It started with an order or two every month for the first few months. I loved to order online because it started giving me a happy hit. My most favorite part would be the delivery, which I mostly got done to my office only. All those memes that exaggerate the sense of waiting for an online order, that’s actually me. No kidding.

So gradually, the frequency of my online shopping increased to once in every week. I realized that this was becoming a problem when, towards the end of the month, I would be bankrupt and I would still order clothes, or accessories, or footwear or something or the other, making the payment through my credit cards. And let me tell you, I have never been a credit card person.

Three months went by like this. I paid my credit card bills which would usually be not beyond a certain limit. Then, in the fourth month, I ended up not just crossing that limit, but also doubling it. But I wouldn’t say I was surprised. I knew what I was doing; just that, I couldn’t control it. Some signs that I felt particularly in that month included:

– Browsing shopping apps while travelling, before sleeping and after waking up, basically at all times I could spare. I was surprised myself when during one of the routine night calls, I disconnected because I was sleepy but post that, I browsed a shopping app for 45 minutes.

– Online shopping started making me feel happy. I started looking forward to the time when I would be idle, sometimes just to browse those apps and not even shop.

shutterstock_541434475 shopping online

– Clicking on ‘Buy’ often accompanied guilt and did not take into consideration my financial situation.

– I stopped telling my mother what I bought because she would scold me.

– My cupboard was flowing with clothes, many of them unworn so far and I had to get two new jewellery boxes to contain my accessories.

After having to pay the debilitating bill, I decided that this could not continue anymore. Immediately, I uninstalled all the shopping apps from my phone and reported all their advertisements that stared back at me on social media platforms.

But, by doing so, I was only eliminating my possibility of shopping and not the cause of my shopping problem. I didn’t know how to do that and so, I sought advice from a friend who was pursuing a Phd in psychiatry. It was then I realized that my habit was stemming from stress, majorly at workplace and also because of a recent break-up that I had had, which I earlier thought wasn’t as traumatic as it perhaps was.
I would shop in order to pleasure myself and because the pleasure wouldn’t last, I had to shop again. This was my coping mechanism as it gave me little adrenaline rushes every time I received an order. This has also been proven by many studies, such as one by the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. It said that online shopping reduced sadness. Another one by The Huffington Post concluded that every third person shops online to deal with stress.
My friend told me to reroute my mind, which meant that I needed to destress and unwind. She recommended that I do yoga and whenever I get an impulse to shop, I should recognize the underlying negative emotion that’s driving it. Once I know what the emotion is, I can either write about it, talk about it with a friend or just acknowledge it because even that apparently helps. And yes, it did.
It’s been six months since I have not shopped even a single thing online and I am really happy that I could come this far. Not that I will never shop online now. I will, but only much less frequently and when I really need to buy something and it is a necessity, not otherwise.


Equity MFs are at record level. What is driving the growth?

Equity MFs are at record level. What is driving the growth?

Equity mutual funds received a staggering Rs20,000 crore in the month of August. While foreign institutional investors (FIIs) have been pulling out from the Indian stock market, domestic institutional investors (DIIs) have provided strong support to markets. What is driving this growth in mutual funds? Are investors really understanding the risk attached with equities or the growth is  driven by herd-mentality.

One reason for the rise in equities is low return given by other asset classes. While fixed deposit have been giving abysmal low return of  6-7%, property market has also been in slump for many years. In such a situation mutual funds have caught the fancy of many people who have been looking for other avenues to earn higher returns. Over the last one year equity diversified and small cap funds have given returns as high as 30 and 40 percent, respectively in last one year.

What make mutual funds hugely popular recently is the growth in systematic investment plans (SIPs). Today, there is an inflow of Rs4000 crore every month through SIP. What worries, however, is when you  see people investing in mutual funds without understanding the risk of the product. I have heard and seen several people selling balanced mutual funds as an alternative to fixed deposits. Go to any nearby bank and chances are high they will pitch you balanced fund as an alternative to fixed deposit. The person at the desk might not care to tell you that unlike fixed deposit a balanced fund is a mix of debt and equity. Their return is not guaranteed and are subject to stock and debt market risks. I am not opposing the idea of investing in mutual funds but the point is you should understand the risk before investing in any product. One cannot deny that balanced funds have given very high return over the last few years and they are tax-efficient also. But one should also understand the risk attached with these schemes. Unlike fixed deposits the return over here is not guaranteed.

Another area of concern is when you don’t link your investments with your goals. When you do not link the two you do not know for how long you want to stay invested. When you don’t know the time horizon chances are high that you will not invest in the right product. There are many people around who have invested in mutual funds without a clue about their goals. Identify it whether it is for your education, marriage or retirement. Do not invest in equities just because your  family members and colleagues are doing it. Doing so you contradict the golden rule of investing which says that you should invest in equities for at least 3 to 5 years.

With expense ratio of just 2- 3% mutual funds are certainly one of the cost-effective ways of investing in equities. They can give you inflation beating return when all other asset classes are not performing well. But before investing do understand their risk and most importantly stay invested for long term.


3-Year-Old Cancer Survivor Is Flower Girl at Bone Marrow Donor’s Wedding: ‘It Was Very Special’

Skye Savren-McCormick (center) with Hayden Ryals and bridesmaids

Skye Savren-McCormick (center) with Hayden Ryals and bridesmaids
Mark Broadway Photography

On July, 29, 2016, Hayden Ryals helped save 2-year-old Skye Savren-McCormick’s life with a bone marrow transplant. Now, two years later, Ryals and Skye teamed up for another special day: Ryals’ wedding.

On June 9, little Skye served as the flower girl as Ryals, 26, wed Adrian Ryals in Hartford, Alabama. Talia Savren-McCormick and her husband Todd set off on the long journey from their Ventura, California home to Alabama just two days before the ceremony where, Savren-McCormick says Skye enjoyed every moment.

“It was so sweet and she was really excited to do it. I put her one the ground and she took one step and then took a giant handful of flowers and tossed them on the ground,” Savren-McCormick tells PEOPLE of now-3-year-old Skye. “It was very heartwarming. We’re so grateful to Hayden, she saved Skye’s life. She was really cute.”


Fashion’s Grand slam: why Wimbledon is a masterclass on how to look smart in the summer

Match point: the Duchess of Cambridge, Victoria Beckham, Serena Williams, the Duchess of Sussex and Anna Wintour Photograph: Guardian Design Team

From dreamy Ralph Lauren uniforms to all-white jumpsuits, your summer style directive is courtside SW19 – channelling Meghan and Kate, Anna Wintour and Serena Williams

Can we talk about the weather? Is there even any other subject right now? It is the beginning and end of every conversation. How marvellous it is, how lucky we are, obvs, segueing rapidly into the kicker: what on earth to wear? Holiday weather is a breeze when you are pulling a dress on over a bikini. But when you are still on-duty and expected to look smart, summer dressing is a challenge.

But as luck would have it, there is a masterclass on how to look smart in the summer being broadcast live from London for most of the day, almost every day, for the next fortnight. It’s called Wimbledon. While the rest of the country flails hopelessly around trying to figure out what to wear when your work wardrobe doesn’t suit the climate but your holiday wardrobe doesn’t suit the vibe, one corner of SW19 is showing us how it’s done.

Wimbledon is Britain’s best-dressed moment of the year. London fashion week has too many outsize trainers and miniature sunglasses; the Baftas has that baffling “it’s early February, I think I’ll stand outside in a strapless dress and no coat” goosebumpy thing going on; Ascot is Halloween for posh people. Wimbledon, on the other hand, is bona fide summer chic. And Wimbledon is more fashionable than it has ever been, because it lies at the crossing point of two axes of power in style this decade. SW19 is where the glamour of sport and the allure of the royal family come together – and the stock of both in fashion is at an all time high. The unstoppable rise of athleisure has made playing sport (or performatively watching sport, as exemplified by the royal box) more high-profile than ever. And the passing of the Wimbledon baton to a younger generation of the royal family (the Queen, not a tennis fan, has only ever attended four times) has amplified its profile by having coincided with the impact of the tennis-obsessed Middleton family in the royal landscape. Pippa Middleton is even more of a keen fan than her sister, and counts Roger Federer a close enough pal for him to have been a guest at her wedding last year.

If you don’t believe that strawberries and cream at Wimbledon now constitutes fashion’s top table, consider this. Serena Williams, the Duchess of Sussex, the Duchess of Cambridge, Victoria Beckham and Anna Wintour are probably the five most influential women in fashion in 2018, and the All England Club will probably play host to all five before next Sunday. Serena Williams, recent American Vogue cover star and currently to be seen in a Dior bodysuit on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, is dominating early storylines on Centre Court as she returns from maternity leave. The new Duchess of Sussex, whose every public appearance leads to an instant sellout of whatever she wears, is a tennis fan (she attended in 2016) and pretty much a dead cert to support her friend Williams. The Duchess of Cambridge is a tennis nut and patron of Wimbledon. Victoria Beckham is a regular at the men’s final. As eight-times champ Roger Federer’s most loyal fan, Anna Wintour is sure to make an appearance as he defends his title. This is a power front row like no other. Oh, and Beyoncé – another friend of Williams, who has attended Centre Court as her guest – is in Europe, so don’t rule out a courtside cameo from the Carters, if they can carve out a moment from their tour schedule.

Beyonce and Jay Z at the Wimbledon women’s final between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber in 2016.
 Beyonce and Jay Z at the Wimbledon women’s final between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber in 2016. Photograph: Karwai Tang/WireImage
Wimbledon uniform by Ralph Lauren.
 Wimbledon uniform by Ralph Lauren.

But the A-list are not the point, because what makes Wimbledon truly relevant to the business of getting dressed is that its fashion power does not derive from untouchable haute couture wardrobes. The joy of Wimbledon is that everyone is chic. The famous all-white dress code ensures that every on-court shot is a pure visual harmony. Then there is the Gatsby-esque dreaminess of the Ralph Lauren uniforms. Ballgirls and ballboys wear simple preppy navy polo shirts and polo dresses, while umpires and line judges wear blazers and smart cream slacks. The elegance of the uniforms is a lovely thing, because it makes those working at Wimbledon as central to the glamour of the place as the Duchesses in their Alexander McQueen tea dresses.

Dress, Zara, £29.99
 Dress, Zara, £29.99 Photograph: Zara

The many style lessons to be learned from watching Wimbledon begin, of course, with white. When you want to look cool and calm in summer, all-white is an excellent place to start. Who wouldn’t take style tips from Roger Federer, the snow-white Centre Court dream whose appearance at this year’s opening press conference caused a reporter to blurt out that he was looking “even more handsome than last year”? I have never mastered wearing white on holiday (incompatible with a regime of spaghetti vongole and pistachio ice-cream) but I have learned that when you want to look competent and chic, white is the simplest formula for summer power dressing.

Blazer, £49.99, zara.com
 Blazer, £49.99, zara.com Photograph: PR Company Handout

Also, blazers. If you are still harbouring inverse snobbery against the blazer, take a good look at Wimbledon and then at yourself. It is true that if you wear a blazer with a striped shirt and a panama hat and ostentatiously expensive watch, you will look ghastly. But if, on the other hand, you wear a blazer with your normal wardrobe you will find it neatens the edges of your look in a pleasingly no-effort kind of way. The key is not to shy away from going full-on blazer and thereby end up in a boring suit jacket. Gold buttons? Great, wear the blazer with a white T-shirt and cropped trousers and gold hoop earrings. Double-breasted? Surprisingly flattering thrown over a sundress.

Self-Portrait dress, £300, from matchesfashion.com
 Dress, £300, frommatchesfashion.com.

The Wimbledon “look” is smart, but not fraught. Even in the royal box, the dress code for female spectators is surprisingly relaxed. This makes Wimbledon an infinitely more useful template for what-to-wear-in-real-life than the royal enclosure, Ascot, with its compulsory millinery, or the Met Gala with its impossible dress codes (this year, if you recall, was Catholic chic). Self-Portrait is a popular label – Pippa Middleton wore one of their dresses last year, and Beyoncé the year before that – reinforcing its status as the home of formal-but-still-fun dresses. Sienna Miller in a cream Galvan jumpsuit, red lipstick and tortoiseshell sunglasses (2015) will forever serve as a reminder that the Talented Mr Ripley school of summer dressing takes a lot of beating.

This year’s Wimbledon is only just hotting up, but the fashion game is strong as ever. For day one, Mirka Federer teamed her deckchair-striped cotton shirt with a Gucci belt while Laura Carmichael wore a Ganni wrap dress: two strong summer looks, right there. The grass is green, the dress code is white – but this is a red carpet. Pour yourself a Pimm’s, and watch.

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Is it the shoes? For pro golfers, the choice is crucial

Image result for SPT-LPGA23p-7Each golf course is a six- or seven-mile walk, so professional golfers must be comfortable in their own shoes. And in the case of Lexi Thompson at the Marathon Classic last year, style is important as well.

Each golf course is a six- or seven-mile walk, so professional golfers must be comfortable in their own shoes. And in the case of Lexi Thompson at the Marathon Classic last year, style is important as well.

One of golf’s sacred rules is players can only use 14 clubs.

But for professionals, a 15th club on their feet can be as important as a putter or an extra wedge: golf shoes.

While weekend hackers nationwide simply drive to their local sporting goods store, try on the newest pair of Nikes, FootJoys, or New Balances and head to the cash register, professionals go through rigorous testing and research before they pick their footwear.

“Every aspect of design and development has changed,” said Chris Garrett, director of consumer marketing at FootJoy. “It’s really limitless.”

An 18-hole round on a championship golf course usually translates into a six- or seven-mile walk. That doesn’t include time spent on the driving range and putting green. In all, professional golfers spend about eight hours per day in their shoes. Comfort is king.

When FootJoy was founded in 1857, shoes were straightlined so you could wear them on either foot. The company manufactured boots for Union soldiers during the Civil War, ushering in right-foot and left-foot specific boots and shoes. The technological advances of the past 20 years dwarf what occurred the previous 130 years.

“Comfort is the first thing,” said Dottie Ardina, who splits her time between the LPGA and Symetra Tours. “My favorites are the FootJoy Emerges because there’s a cushion, as long they’re white. I like white golf shoes. And I like them with plastic spikes. The spikeless ones are slippery.”

Shoes can be tailored to a player’s swing and the elements that make them comfortable are cushioning in the heel and forefoot, as well as flexibility when bending the foot in a natural stride. Stability, mobility, and traction are the hallmarks.

“If it’s not comfortable, we don’t make it,” Garrett said.

Each week, tour reps from all the major footwear companies travel to stops on the LPGA, PGA, European, and Champions Tour events and cater to their clients. They communicate about discomfort, if the shoe is performing well, and if any adjustments need to be made. Then they pack up and go off to the next event.

“There are a lot of players who do consider footwear as equipment, so they take it very seriously and they’re very knowledgeable about it,” Garrett said. “There are players like Adam Scott who are very particular about their shoes. We’ll give him a new prototype pair of shoes, and he’ll walk us through all the features and benefits before we take him through them.”


LPGA pro Brittany Lincicome designs her own shoes for FootJoy and goes through at least one pair per month. She prefers white shoes.

Brittany Lincicome designs her own shoes for FootJoy and goes through at least one pair per month. She used to wear BOAs, which do not tie and instead use an adjustable ball to twist the laces tight. During a tournament in South Korea, the ball on Lincocome’s shoes broke and she didn’t have an extra pair. A crisis was averted when a new pair of shoes was shipped to her.

“I can literally pull mine out of the box and wear them the next day, which is amazing,” Lincicome said. “I like the all-white ones because they go with every outfit. I used to color coordinate, but you’d have to travel with multiple pairs of shoes, and that’s too much work.”

The days of “shrink it and pink it,” when men’s shoes were made smaller and hues of pink were added to make them women’s shoes have long since passed. As the number of women’s golfers has surged in the past decade, so has the inventory and options for women’s golf shoes. Data indicates women buy more than double the amount of golf shoes than men, a statistic Ardina doesn’t disagree with.

“I feel like I have more golf shoes than sneakers,” she said.

If you’re watching a tour event and a pair of golf shoes catch your eye, 99 percent of the time you can find them at a national retailer. Golf clubs almost are universally fitted for professionals, but shoes come right off the shelf.

Amateurs enjoy the flashy looks and vibrant colors offered in today’s shoes. But even if they don’t realize it, their shoes are rarely the correct size. Consider it a nationwide epidemic.

“We do tens of thousands of fittings and no matter where we do it or how often we do it, 70 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoe, which is pretty remarkable,” said Garrett, noting golfers usually pick a size too big.

Another disconnect between pros and amateurs is spikes. Take a poll of friends at your local track this weekend, and you’re likely to find that a majority are wearing spikeless shoes. Old-fashioned single metal spikes are dwindling, but there remains a sizeable contingent of players who still wear some form of a metal spike. It’s often a soft spike with a metal nail in the middle.

“You don’t want to slip,” said Leticia Ras-Anderica, who estimated she goes through seven pairs of shoes per season. “I’ve used FootJoy since I was little. They’re just so comfortable. It’s really important. You can slip, and it affects your swing and your shot.”

Lincicome is another player who bypasses spikeless shoes because of the slip factor. The spikeless shoe phenomenon began in 2010, when Fred Couples wore a pair of Ecco Golf Street shoes at the Masters. The man who personifies cool sent sales of the casual shoes soaring.

Mel Reid could be considered the Fred Couples of the LPGA Tour. She’s a low-stress personality who makes everything look hip. The United Kingdom native has a casual style that translates on and off the golf course.

“I’m not a massive fan of golf shoes, so I think it’s important that you can walk off the golf course and have dinner with friends,” said Reid, who wears Nike shoes. “Obviously, you need traction too. Golf is getting modernized a bit, and I feel like people need to walk off the golf course and not have to change their shoes.”

Reid cycles through a pair of shoes every month and makes sure to coordinate them with the proper outfit. She’s never experienced an issue with slipping in spikeless shoes, and actually used to practice in Vans because she found them more comfortable than golf shoes.


Is India’s Online Jewellery Market Mature Enough to Support Niche Players?

Is India’s Online Jewellery Market Mature Enough to Support Niche Players?

Online jewellery shopping has been slowly growing in India over the last few years. Companies like BlueStone are becoming more recognisable names, while Caratlane, another early pioneer, was acquired last year by Titan’s jewellery arm Tanishq. And while these specialist companies have been growing, Amazon and Flipkart, the bigwigs of the Indian e-commerce space, both have jewellery sections as well.

But is the market now developed enough to support specialist plays such as CharmsDay, a company that specialises in making silver charm bracelets? Started about a year ago by Parul Nagpal, who used to be the VP-Marketing at BlueStone, CharmsDay is focussing on a small niche within the larger jewellery space, and it’s been operational actively for just a little over a month now.

Gadgets 360 chatted with Nagpal to understand more about the state of online jewellery in India, why smaller cities represent a better opportunity than the big metros, and what new technologies are coming up in the jewellery industry.

“We got started around this time last year, but we launched the website about a month ago,” says Nagpal. “It’s backed by Liali, a Dubai-based jewellery company. They wanted to enter the Indian market and we were doing ideation on what product to come out with, and we traveled around the world to figure out what India is missing.”


Amazon is the biggest in online shopping, but not always the best

Amazon, online shopping, online retail, Jeff Bezos, Amazon prime customers, Foods Market grocery chain, amazon traffic, Walmart

Amazon gets more visits in a typical month than EBay, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Macy’s and Costco combined. (Reuters)

Amazon.com Inc.’s dominance in online retail is clear to see: The so-called Everything Store captures 49 percent of retail e-commerce sales in the U.S., thanks in large part to its 95 million-strong army of Prime customers, who in July contributed to an estimated $4 billion spent globally in just 36 hours during a promotional binge that Jeff Bezos created out of thin air. For comparison, that’s more than Church & Dwight, maker of Arm & Hammer baking soda and Trojan condoms, generates in a year.So Amazon’s the biggest shopping site in the U.S. But is it the best? And how does one measure that, anyway? A common way is to look at how much of a retailer’s total revenue comes from its online division. By that metric–simply, who does the biggest share of their business online–Amazon is worlds ahead of most rivals.

That doesn’t tell us very much, though. For one thing, that metric is declining at Amazon as the company evolves: It now owns the Whole Foods Market grocery chain and also gets almost 12 percent of net sales from its successful cloud business. At Walmart, meanwhile, the online unit is expected to grow 40 percent this year, but it will never be as big of a slice of the pie given that the company operates more than 11,000 brick-and-mortar stores around the globe that deliver about a half-trillion dollars in sales.



Discussions about online sales usually devolve into comparing deals. But it’s not just about who has the lowest prices–most sites these days employ algorithms that can quickly match competitors’ price tags, so they’re changing constantly. (During Prime Day, Amazon took 40 percent off the Instant Pot cooker, a foodie favorite, prompting Walmart and Costco to follow suit.) Executives at Walmart, the king of everyday low prices, now talk less about prices and more about “reducing friction” for online shoppers–or making the shopping experience faster and easier. And while product assortment is important, it’s more than who carries the most stuff. Consumers can get lost in a sea of online listings in much the same way they get confused when they’re staring at 52 different brands of toothpaste in a physical store.

There are other ways to measure online sales success, like downloads of a retailer’s shopping app. Of course, just having an app on your phone doesn’t mean you’re shopping regularly–how many unloved apps sit gathering digital dust on your smartphone? Even metrics like the time spent on a site can be misleading: While advertisers love it if you linger, a retailer generally wants to get you to the checkout page as fast as possible, or else that could be a sign that navigation isn’t working so well.

In truth, what matters most to web retailers are three things: Traffic, engagement and conversion. In other words, how many people visit your online storefront, how interested they are in what they see and how many of them click the all-important “buy” button. Let’s start with traffic, measured by site visits.

No surprise here: Amazon gets more visits in a typical month than EBay, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Macy’s and Costco combined. One reason is Amazon’s strong referral business, whereby other websites, dubbed affiliates, send traffic to Amazon and collect a fee. Around 6 percent of Amazon’s traffic in any given month comes from those referrals, according to researcher SimilarWeb, double that of Walmart and Target.

“For Amazon, referral traffic is huge,’’ said Ethan Chernofsky, director of corporate marketing at SimilarWeb. “Nobody else has that affiliate strength.”

But traffic doesn’t tell the whole story. It can increase without delivering any perceptible boost in sales, and a sudden spike in traffic can cause site glitches that prompt shoppers to go elsewhere: witness Amazon’s Prime Day trouble, where some early searches for goods prompted an error page featuring dog photos. Shoppers who leave a site after viewing just one page are said to have “bounced” in web parlance, and that’s not a good thing either. It’s the online equivalent of a customer who walks in a store, takes one look around, and walks right out.

EBay and Costco both have lower bounce rates than Amazon, a sign that the visitors coming to their sites truly want to be there. For Walmart, meanwhile, having half its visitors leave after viewing one page says its shoppers aren’t nearly as engaged. That might explain why the company unveiled a website redesign in May, with new colors, fonts and lifestyle-focused imagery–for example, pictures of cute babies in a kitchen rather than a boring photo of a stroller.

Those baby pictures are just one of many ways e-commerce sites try to lure millennials, who devote a greater share of their spending to the web than any other age group, according to UBS. Ebay, for one, is launching personalized shopping pages and boosting its marketing spending to freshen its image as an online rummage sale. Walmart and Costco’s web visitors also skew older, which makes sense given their more mature shopper base. Still, even Walmart is trying to get younger, taking a page from Jet.com, the urban-focused startup it acquired in 2016.

Turns out the winner among millennials isn’t Amazon but Best Buy, where more than one in five shoppers are between 25 and 34. One reason is simply what it specializes in: gadgets. But the consumer-electronics retailer has also vastly improved its website in recent years with a better search function, more reviews and detailed product information. That’s helped the company more than double the proportion of its U.S. revenue that comes from online to 16 percent last year, up from 7 percent in 2012.

No matter their age, online shoppers are a fickle bunch. The Baymard Institute, an e-commerce researcher, has found that about seven out of 10 online shopping trips end with no purchase made. Shoppers abandon their virtual carts for a variety of reasons. Most often, it’s because shipping and other fees are too high. Others find the checkout process too complicated, don’t want to create an online account, or didn’t trust the site with their credit card information. All those factors can hurt a site’s conversion rate, which is the share of shoppers who actually buy something.

“You want shoppers to be engaged, but conversion is the ideal metric,” says Nathan Rigby, senior vice president of global sales at One Click Retail, which monitors e-commerce sales.

Amazon converts shoppers into buyers better than its main rivals, and it’s not even close. With simple one-click (or one-swipe) checkout and “Subscribe and Save” discounts for household goods purchased regularly, Amazon, for now, closes the deal better than anyone. And that, more than anything, makes it the king of e-commerce.

But with rivals starting to catch up, there’s no guarantee Amazon’s dominance will last. One Click Retail’s engineers are hard at work developing a new e-commerce yardstick, one that will combine traffic, conversion and revenue into one metric called “TeComm,” short for Total E-commerce. Once that rolls out, it will be easier to see who’s got the biggest leg up in digital sales. It should appear next year — perhaps just in time for Prime Day.


I Had a No Kids Allowed Wedding—This Is What Happened

In my opinion, a great wedding follows the holy trinity of party: yummy food, great music and flowing alcohol. So when my fiancé and I were wedding planning, we decided our top priority was to have a great party for our guests and a custom ceremony. We also made a promise to do our very best to not get sucked into wedding incidentals like linens and table settings. And since, “Wow, your party was EPIC and the kids area was LIT,” has been said by no one ever, we opted for “no kids allowed” at our nuptials.

Now before your head explodes thinking about the blowback you’ll receive from your guests, hear me out because I have some great reasons for keeping the kids at home.

The kids aren’t imperative to your day

I know this sounds harsh, and to be fair, we didn’t have any kids from previous relationships or with each other. If we did, I have no doubt that children would have been invited. But for us, we live in New York City, the majority of our friends don’t have children and the majority of our guests traveled a long way for a good time. We opted for a small wedding party with no flower girl or ring bearer because that tradition just didn’t speak to us. Remember, our priorities were food, music and alcohol so if it didn’t fall under one of those categories then it just didn’t get our attention.

You want everyone to party

Understandably, being responsible for your kids disallows you from participating in certain liberties. Children can have dirty diapers, bedtimes, and mood swings, plus, they can be a real bummer if you’re trying to stay out late or take tequila shots. No kids means the parents can cut loose and enjoy the party you’ve set up for them. Then again, maybe it doesn’t stop them at all from partying and instead kids are left unattended. Which leads me to my next point…

You want to avoid a playground party

Our wedding was held at the historic Allan House, built in 1883, with indoor and outdoor space. Perfect for a wedding, not perfect for unattended children. Not inviting children closed the risk of skinned knees on cobblestones and screaming adults trying to track down their kids. I remember being a kid; my little brother would constantly slide across the dance floor in his slacks. Super cute but not really the vibe I was going for.

Simplified planning and lower cost

want to say that cost shouldn’t be an issue on your big day, but budgets are very real. Especially as you craft your guest list and kids quickly balloon that list. We couldn’t do a family-focused wedding justice, so we opted to stick with what we know: we know how to throw a party for 30-somethings so that’s what we did.

Even though we felt fully justified to omit children from our invite list, I dreaded telling our families. I was also unsure of how to tell our guests without sounding like a bratty 7th grader who only invited the cool girls to her birthday sleepover (I didn’t want to go anyway, Carmen, and no I won’t let it go). To be honest, not inviting kids felt weirdly personal and I was nervous about how it would be interpreted.

Before telling our parents, we agreed that this needed to be a hard rule of 18 and up only, so no kids and no exceptions. If you make one exception for one kid then it does become personal and frankly, rude. So we did a blanket rule and added this note to our wedding website: “We kindly ask you to leave the kids at home so you can party with us.” I know, it was so bold. But, also direct, to avoid any miscommunications.

Our parents were taken aback at first. I think they had a vision of our wedding that was filled with flower girls and ring bearers. But the reality is my fiancé and I weren’t very close to any children. My soon to be brother-in-law just had a baby but he was too little. My step-sister has some beautiful kids but my fiancé had never met them so it felt strange to force tradition when it just didn’t fit.

See more: Someone Wants to Bring a Baby to Our Adults-Only Wedding. What Should We Do?

As the RSVPs came in, not one guest called me to ask for an exception. I even had some guests call us to tell us how excited they were to leave the kids at home and have a night out. For us, it was a lot of anxiety waiting for the responses but in actuality, our guests were totally cool with it. They were still going to attend and still enjoy a night of bbq, tacos and tequila sans kids. And why wouldn’t they? In a world where parents are constantly a package deal with kids, it must have been nice for them to have a night off from, “mom, when are we leaving?” By 9:30pm they would have been slumped over the dinner table, begging their parents to take them home. And I don’t blame them, because to them it’s an oldies party.

Plus everyone drank a lot of tequila and we all did The Wobble…no child should see that.


Pandora’s hit jewelry product is now its biggest problem

Pandora, which makes more jewelry than any other company, is being slammed as people lose interest in its charms, the decorative trinkets that are often attached to bracelets. CREDIT: Angela Weiss/Getty Images for Pandora Jewelry

DENMARK — Here’s the thing about fads: They end.

Pandora, which makes more jewelry than any other company, is being slammed as people lose interest in its charms, the decorative trinkets that are often attached to bracelets.

The Danish company has in recent years become synonymous with charms, which make up over half of its sales. But their popularity is fading, and Pandora hasn’t been able to revive it.

Pandora’s stock has been cut in half this year, and the company said Thursday that CEO Anders Colding Friis would step down at the end of August.

The announcement caps a tumultuous few days for the company.

Pandora stock crashed 24% on Tuesday after the firm slashed its sales forecast for 2018. On Thursday, it reported that charm sales declined 7% in the first quarter.

“They need to fix the charms challenge,” said Soeren Loentoft Hansen, a senior analyst at Sydbank. “The business is very important because it drives traffic to the stores.”

Related: Tiffany’s booming sales send stock soaring

The company has pinned the blame on a shift to minimalist fashions.

“We’ve been too optimistic about the new products from our charms collections,” Colding Friis told investors during a conference call on Thursday. “Consumers are preferring a simple look with fewer charms. They used to wear six to seven charms, now they wear five.”

Loentoft Hansen doesn’t buy that explanation. He says people just don’t like Pandora’s designs.

“I am not worried about charms business in general, but I am little worried about Pandora’s charm business,” he said.

Related: De Beers admits defeat over man-made diamonds

Anders Boyer, who was recently named chief financial officer at Pandora, acknowledged that the company was going through “a very difficult period.” But he said he’s optimistic.

“Pandora is here to stay. Pandora is not a fad,” he said. “I don’t see anything to the contrary when I look into the numbers.”

Loentoft Hansen said that while charms are crucial, the company must build its business in other jewelry segments.

Bracelets contribute almost 20% of Pandora’s sales, while all other jewelry — rings, earrings, necklaces and pendants — make up less than a quarter.