Within the past year, the fashion industry has seen a resurgence in artist and band-related merchandise. Whether it be Metallica tees worn by people who haven’t listened to a second of Metallica’s music or Travis Scott tour jackets, artist-related merchandise has quickly become a hot commodity leading to a booming resell market, particularly in rapper related merchandise. One rapper in particular who reigns supreme in the realm of merchandise is Kanye West. Through his numerous pop-up shops and now his ongoing nationwide tour, the resell market has been flooded with hats, tees, jackets and more, all bearing the “Pablo” name. With the current hype surrounding Kanye’s Saint Pablo tour and his general personal life, it’s no wonder fans are spending hundreds on merchandise that cost little to nothing to manufacture.
Image From Team Kanye Daily
I myself had the pleasure of paying a visit to one of his 21 global pop-up shops, that being his shop in Miami. As a Kanye “stan” of sorts, I woke up at 7:30 and made my way to Miami’s Design District and was fortunate enough to be one of the first people in line. The line, as the hours went by, grew into the hundreds, extending numerous blocks. Kanye the day before had promised on Twitter that the shop would open up at 12, and evidently it opened up at 2 because who cares about keeping one’s word right? Considering I was the forty-seventh person in line you would think I would be on my way into the store in just minutes when they finally opened, wrong, I waited another hour in the summer heat, and considering we’re talking about Miami here, you can imagine just how hot it might have been.
Finally, the time had come, I had been allowed into the shop and was greeted by speakers blasting Kanye’s latest album, The Life of Pablo, clothing racks with items such as tees, jackets, and hoodies, and workers running around in “I Feel Like Pablo” tees. After looking around and coming to the conclusion that the only thing worth my time and money was the Miami-exclusive “I Feel Like Pablo” tee, I bought two and resold one of them to get my money back on the other tee.
When I got home and tried on the shirt, I noticed one thing, the material was below reasonable quality. Kanye, for whatever reason, I guess in part knowing that his fans will buy anything he puts out, printed his tees on Gildan shirts, and if you know anything about Gildan you know just how low quality it is. All the tees and hoodies available for sale were Gildan and the jackets which were retailing at $325 were manufactured by Marquardt & Schultz who sell their generic military jackets at a price of $30. Gildan, a wholesaler of tees, hoodies and other types of clothing allow you to buy in bulk, with tees costing about $3 each with print and hoodies costing about $13 each with print. Kanye was selling each tee at $55 and each hoodie at $105 so you can just imagine how outrageous his margins were.
Image From dmagazine.com
After monetarily abusing his fans at his numerous pop-up shops, along came Kanye’s Saint Pablo tour. I attended his September 17th concert in Miami and needless to say it was one of the greatest experiences of my entire life, I can’t quantify or describe the feeling of seeing an artist whose had such a profound effect on my life like Kanye up close like I did in my general admission spot below his stage. His concert involved a floating stage that hovered over us throughout the concert, so basically it was a two hour mosh pit that I was more than happy to be a participant in.
But one main point of Kanye’s shows is his tour merchandise and I was ecstatic when I saw all the cool tees, hoodies, and hats available for sale at the stands. Maybe this time the quality improved after backlash from fans who paid outrageous prices for Gildan branded clothes. And of course, I was wrong! After purchasing a Saint Pablo hoodie that was already pilling for $100, I quickly realized I had once again been conned by the man himself. All of his tour merch, just like his pop-up shops, was Gildan brand clothing. And still, despite all this, Kanye “stans” on resell sites like Grailed, are paying hundreds for some of the lowest quality merchandise out there right now. I myself made the most of the hype and resold my hoodie as I knew the longevity of the hoodie itself was short considering how terrible the quality of it was; when I purchased the hoodie it was already pilling!
I can complain all I want about how terrible the material of his merchandise is, but I know very well that I will continue to buy his merchandise for years to come being the blind fan I am. The reasoning behind my venting is the desperate hope I have that Kanye may actually start listening to his fans and put out merchandise of at least somewhat decent quality. But for now I plead, “Father Stretch My Wallet!” knowing fully well that more expensive Kanye merchandise is on the way and I just hope my bank account has the strength and resilience to push through.
Image From The Undefeated