• September 22, 2016 | ,

    it started with a swan

    the inflatable pool toy craze

    article by , illustrated by

    Have you seen the shapes inflatable pool toys are taking these days? And the preteens that are posing with them? It seems like every zoo animal under the sun has been caricatured and set adrift in infinity pools across America. And not just real animals—fictional animals, too! Animals we wish were animals. From Montauk to Miami, mythical creatures and pizza slices alike have occupied the shallow end — forever altering the way the 1% summer.

    These pool toys first made their debut on Taylor Swift’s Instagram in July of 2015: a timeless shot of her and her then-boyfriend Calvin Harris surrounded by their swan-saddled supermodel pals. The caption?  “Swan squad.”

    And just like that, luxury inflatables quite literally “blew up.” They’ve since been endorsed by nearly every A-list celebrity with a good butt. That’s right. Alessandra Ambrosio, three Kardashians AND two Jenners. It’s kind of a big deal.

    Initially, I was surprised by the novelty pool float’s popularity. Astounded, even. $399 for a rubber duck roughly the size of a Smart Car? Think of all the Chipotle burritos one could buy with that cash.

    But in a world where validation is measured in likes, luxury inflatable pool toys are in fact practical—necessary even—worth every cent of burritos foregone. Since value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, we have to consult the teenage girl’s hierarchy of wants. Instagram likes are pretty high on the short list, right up there with food, shelter, and cell service. What better excuse to debut that scandalous one piece than straddled across a nine-by-four foot pegasus?

    Even more interesting is the brand that has cornered the upscale inflatable market. FUNBOY: a Los Angeles company that describes itself as a “water obsessed, family creative collective working around the clock to bring you, the FUNBOY community, the very best of the float life.”

    That’s right. The float life. What exactly does the float life entail? Leisure, I’m guessing, and the kind of effortless sexiness achieved only by off-duty runway models.

    Listen to this product description:

    “Featuring sleek lines and a six foot base, FUNBOY redefines the white swan and luxury pool floats.”

    If I didn’t know better, I’d think they were talking about a Lexus. What was probably just the cannabis-inspired lightbulb moment of a couple of twenty-somethings has successfully taken Southampton by storm. By simply making pool toys that appeal to the elitist in all of us, FUNBOY has secured itself a spot on the list of glitzy summer must-haves, as essential as a Land Rover in the driveway.

    So why should we, broke college students, care about luxury pool floats? If your parents are anything like mine, they’re keen on emailing you the links to articles about the hostile, competitive job market we face after graduation. Articles with titles like, “College Graduates Don’t Get Jobs Anymore,” and, “Ivy League Graduates Don’t get Jobs Either.”

    If you’re like me, and you really like going out to eat, unemployment really isn’t an option. So why not try entrepreneurship?

    “Create an app!” everyone says, but I don’t know how to do that. It sounds scary and complicated. As FUNBOY’s success illustrates, there are far easier ways to take advantage of the frivolous American consumer. Our great nation’s wealth disparity ensures that there will always be people with cash to spend on stupid stuff. Stuff like elephant tusks and iPhones for six-year-olds. So what’s stopping us from developing the next cool, virtually useless but aesthetically desirable product?

    With the proceeds from my iglow-in-the-dark bath towel, I could start an orphanage in Taiwan. I mean, that or buy up real estate that will support me while I struggle to buy groceries with the salary of my entry-level publication job (God willing).

    So to the drawing board with you people! Start thinking! What would be super nifty to have in my dorm room but has zero practical application? What is essentially inessential?

    It could be anything. Except for a lava lamp. That’s been done. Also, a glow-in-the-dark bath towel — patent pending. That is my intellectual property. Mine.