Issue No. 47
September 2018 —


Digital trend publication
blending a mix of culture,
insights and data.

A trend product by







This issue? It's Gucci (see our latest Listicle here for full reference if you, like me, aren't always the most clued into these things). 


No, but really –– the Culture Issue is, and always has been, one of my favorites of the year. Not only is it innately a part of who we are and what we do, but it's our moment in time to stop and assess all the ripples in the world that create movements. Wondering how and why certain things 'stick' and truly shift culture is part of the fun psychology that's a huge part of marketing.


Whether these moments are created by a rap lyric, a Netflix show, or a piece of art, they always stem back to passion in expression and creativity, which is the very focus of this issue. 



chelsea matthews


Image by Phoenix Johnson

Image by Phoenix Johnson




Editor's Letter


"The culture of a workplace - an organization's values, norms and practices - has a huge impact on our happiness and success." 

—adam grant




Dig into the issue by clicking on the titles below.



digital influencers are us (and that leads to lots of questions).

"I set out to write a piece about virtual influencers and inevitably ended up asking lots of questions."


Read the most clear and cohesive piece on CGI influencers that's out there. Erna discusses their place in the digital space (which is our world, isn't it? Insta fans?), how they came to fruition, and how they play a role in advertising. 


Read here


— Erna Adelson, Writer





the values economy

"Young people have been called out for destroying industries, but the fact is, we are reinventing what is valued in our economy. The consumer facing economy is no longer just about selling stuff, it is about building relationships."


Ben Brown started Association of Young Americans (AYA) in his apartment in 2016 in order to help insert the voices of the 80 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 35 into everyday politics – a place where young people’s interests and issues are too often ignored. We have a special short from him that speaks to our changing economy - and how to tune into the values-forward millennial group. 


Read here


— Ben Brown, Founder of AYA










phoenix johnson

Meet stylist-turned-photographer, Phoenix Johnson. His interesting portraits (none of which require studio lighting in fact - he's a sucker for natural light and flash... which plays into his goal of making his shots as genuine as possible) decorate this month's Culture Issue. The unique quirks behind Phoenix’s portraits is what pulled us in toward him for this month’s publication.  After all, our culture is messy, unique, interesting, thought-provoking, weird... yet we're all kinda the same at the end of the day. We're supposed to mesh well together, in light of our differences. We've got a great portrait interview on Phoenix - not to miss. You might even learn something. 


Read our interview with Phoenix here


— Gaelan Simpson, Managing Editor SSR



meet los angeles creative, jarrett ellis. A CONVERSATION ABOUT CULTURE, CLOTHING, AND CINEMA.

Jarrett Ellis gets shit done. In just 23 years on our pretty little over-heated planet earth, Jarrett has started a clothing line, co-founded an annual holiday hamper for kids in San Bernadino, starred as Snoop Dogg in All Eyez on Me (2017) and recently founded The Hoop Dream Studio. He's still dabbling in college and he's here to chat with us about culture, clothing and cinema.

Keep an eye out for him, the sky's the limit for this fella. 


Read here


— Gaelan Simpson, Managing Editor SSR



2018's words that define pop culture.

aka - the slang dictionary

What represents culture today more than the relevant slang lingo that we toss around? Not much, really. 


We hope that the terms listed stick with you. We hope that they make you feel more "with it." We hope that you decide to try one out this week.We hope you use everything here in the right context so you don’t wind up the your looking like plug.*


Read here *


— The Team at Matte Black




(Click "FINDINGS" to be linked to all topics below)







The Riff 016 - Team Culture

At Matte Black, "team culture" spans beyond the weekly happy hour. Tune in as Chelsea and Micah chat through the idea of company culture, and some touch points that business leaders should consider when establishing the culture for their team.









"Travel early and travel often. Live abroad, if you can. Understand cultures other than your own. As your understanding of other cultures increases, your understanding of yourself and your own culture will increase exponentially." 

- Tom freston


See what the Shape Shift Report team dug up this month!




MJ never got to play a game in flip-flops. 

The NBA is a curious thing, because it is at once exceptionally brilliant, but also weighed down by rules that make things petty and crap and sad. Like: these people spend every day, day after day, for decades, doing exactly one thing, and that thing is ’throwing a ball about.’ That's it.


And they get paid, just, so much money to do this. Millions. Tens of millions. More millions than you’ll ever make. Sounds great, yeah? Sure, yes. But then players get fined, like, hundreds of thousands of dollars for wearing the wrong color of shoes.


Imagine losing that much money over something so small. Imagine how frustrating that would be. Imagine, for a moment, your life as a professional basketball player. How embarrassed would you be to grab a beer with the lads who all have real jobs and you tell them that?

"What's you get up to today, mate?" "Wore a very tough tank-top and chucked a ball into a hoop all day, what about you?" "Yeah I... I actually have a desk job." "Sorry that deal you mentioned last week ended up falling through. How much did you lose? Anyway, I had to pay a 150k fine because my signature shoes don't match my team's away uniform."  NO. The National Basketball League’s front office is out of control. 


Speaking of basketball and shoes and fines: the NBA is removing all footwear restrictions for the upcoming season. Players can wear whatever they want, every night, now. Yeezys? Allowed. Off-White CST-001s? Sure. Unlaced Timbs? Why the hell not. 


A nice rule change, this. Just you zipping around the court, euro stepping to the basket, double-clutch fadeaways from the corner, dropping a triple-double in a pair of  those blue snakeskin Palace loafers. Wake up, James. You live in Silver Lake and have to be on the westside in twelve minutes. 


Read more here.


— James Royce, Studio Manager + Writer at Matte Black

Photo courtesy of  GQ

Photo courtesy of GQ

Photo courtesy of WNBA

Photo courtesy of WNBA




Jesus saves, so he can afford an international MUNDIAL subscription.


A few weeks ago, I went to a bar in my dad’s old Adidas pullover (actually from the 90s) and a book bag, looking for all the world like I actually enjoyed listening to The New Yorker Radio Hour. I wedged into a spot at the bar and whipped out the most recent MUNDIAL magazine. What’s MUNDIAL? Well it’s a quarterly football lifestyle magazine that loads of hip English people really seem to like. It’s got a bit of everything: fans, kits, photography, boots, nostalgia, illustrations, “pub reviews,” and heaps of amazing words. Entertaining words. Some of the best words being circulated about right now. Seriously, the quality of writing in MUNDIAL is amazing. So good I've now managed to mention it one three consecutive times. The photography and creative certainly ain't awful, either. So, even if football or soccer or joga bonito or whatever you want to call it isn’t really your thing, it's hard to be bored thumbing through an issue of MUNDIAL.


Anyway, I whipped that out and was immediately embraced by a group of nearby bar jocks. You know the ones. Always at the bar with all their mates. Watching baseball or something. Shots, beer, shots, beer, pitcher, pitcher, shot. Someone drops their glass and they all shout “Wahey!”  What I am saying is: an aggressive bunch. And for some reason they decided to tack me onto their rounds, because they saw the magazine and wanted to talk soccer. That then moved carefully into my territory to slowly have me explain to them what makes a good magazine a good magazine and why MUNDIAL stands out from the rest. They admitted that they loved to read and enjoyed owning nice magazines that their girlfriends could spread about a coffee table. They told me watching the World Cup was one of the best experiences they'd had all summer. They also ordered me a lot of free drinks so I didn’t go anywhere. We spoke in a way that two alien social groups do when there's no aggression or friction, just a quiet seeking of some common ground. At the end of the night I left with a promise they’d pick up a copy of the mag. MUNDIAL, if you’re reading this, I demand: some sort of commission. Or at least a free copy of the new issue that comes out here in two weeks that has that snappy photo of Arsenal superstar Héctor Bellerín rocking a track suit and sport coat pasted on the cover. What an outfit. What a shot. What a magazine.


Read more here


— James Royce again, Studio Manager + Writer at Matte Black

(A legendary contributor for this issue - bless you, dear James).

Photo courtesy of Mundial

Photo courtesy of Mundial

Photo courtesy of MUNDIAL

Photo courtesy of MUNDIAL




Something happens when we lose a legend. 


When I heard of Aretha Franklin's passing, it felt as if the air around me stood still. And, in it's place, a flood of memories began to fill the space. Days sitting in the living room, Aretha's voice singing in the background. Family barbecues, Aretha's voice fueling the grass path that served as a dance floor. Afternoons spent prepping for family dinners - Aretha's voice filling up the space that the sounds of pots and pans didn't occupy. 


Aretha Franklin's voice moves these seemingly small memories of mine more than ever, which is why Hanif's article stands out from the rest of it's kind. This line in particular hits home - "... Aretha Franklin, who had a voice which could raise bodies in a church, or a bar, or an otherwise silent corner where two people sat, falling into or out of love. Aretha could provide it all, for any moment you could dream up and even the ones you couldn’t." 


Aretha's ability to tap into these moments, to articulate these emotions with her voice, lives on through her records. And her voice will continue to be the soundtrack of many memories to come. 


Read more here


— Aria Davis, Integrated Marketing Manager at Matte Black

Photo courtesy of  E!

Photo courtesy of E!


– Guy Fieri




Chelsea Matthews


Managing Editor
Gaelan Simpson


Contributing Editor
Micah Heykoop


Aria Davis


Creative Director

Nolan Goff




Phoenix Johnson






phoenix 1 (1).jpeg

phoenix johnson

Phoenix Johnson is the man behind (nearly) all of the images in this month's Shape/Shift Report. He's photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. Phoenix is 23 years old and originally from Nashville, Tennesee.


Greatest brand of all time: Maison Margiela

Go-to New York spot: Robertas

Pizza toppings: pepperoni and banana peppers

Muse: changes daily

Good luck charm: wearing all white


jarrett ellis

Jarrett Ellis is the Founder + CEO of The Hoop Dream Studio, Co-Founder of Xtra Kredit, actor in All Eyez on Me (2017) - he plays Snoop Dogg - and runs an annual holiday charity gig in his hometown. Those are just a few of his gigs. He's currently wrapping up university and eagerly anticipates cold weather so that he can go snowboarding soon.


Weird talent? I can solve a Rubik’s cube in under 2 minutes

Favourite rapper today: Young Thug

Go-to move in the clurb: Like dance move? “C-Walk”

Muse? None.

Motto? Stay Hungry

Role Model: Walt Disney


ben brown

Ben Brown started Association of Young Americans (AYA) in his apartment in 2016 in order to help insert the voices of the 80 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 35 into everyday politics – a place where young people’s interests and issues are too often ignored. Ben aims to empower young Americans to hold their officials accountable, and reclaim lobbying as a tool that works to advance policies that benefit young people. Ben has grown the nonpartisan organization from the ground-up to thousands of members across the country and has created partnerships with Lyft, Brandless, AMC Theaters, MegaBus, among many others.


Vice? Bravo’s Below Deck 

Nickname: bean

Dream childhood pet: Bernese mountain dog

Best rom com: When Harry Met Sally

Guilty pleasure: bad Chinese food 

2IMG_2026 (1).jpg


Erna Adelson is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker


    Wasabi or Sriracha?  Wasabi. And Crystal Hot Sauce.

    Dream date spot: A breakfast date at Republique = I'm living the dream.

    Favourite café in LA. See above. But a new addition to my neighborhood, Highly Likely, is closing in. ; )

    Underrated hype song: I don't know if it's underrated, but Everybody Got Their Something by Nikka Costa. It's from the Blue Crush Soundtrack. Actually, everything from the Blue Crush Soundtrack.

    Mama's wisest words: Keep (non-menthol) cigarettes in the freezer. Tobacco is an anti-inflammatory that works on burns and bee stings, apparently. 

    Quirkiest trait: I'll never tell.