Musicians like Kanye West, Justin Bieber, and Rihanna are not the only ones banking on the modern day take on concert merchandise, or what the New York Times called “the world of elevated concert merch: Special collections linked to specific cultural events, limited in availability, and one of the newest and fastest-growing subsectors in the fashion world,” driven largely by the likes of Bravado, the division at Universal Music Group, known for (among other things) helping to make possible global pop-ups shops dedicated to the Kanye West’s “Life of Pablo” tour possible.
Not only do such garments and accessories sales serve to supplement musicians’ revenue streams, particularly in light of decreased sales of full albums, such wares, which per GQ’s Jake Woolf, “are instantly recognizable pieces created to be visual signifiers of style or one’s in-the-know status.” In addition serving as an indicator to others that the wearer is in-the-know, the ubiquitous status-symbol properties of merch simultaneously help raise awareness – or hype – in connection with those putting forth the wares and their ventures.
As Woolf noted last year, “In the case of Justin Bieber, the pop star wisely leveraged his global concert tour as a means to not only sell boatloads of $50 T-shirts, but help himself achieve a form of high-fashion street cred. Like [Kanye] West, the Biebs also opened a pop-up shop in New York City, and his gear likewise created lines that wrapped around street corners.”
While the merch trend, following the huge influx of market participants, is said to be swiftly waning in popularity, that has not stopped entities outside of the music arena from opting to cash in on the power of merch. The non-music merch gamut runs from the Kardashian/Jenners, who frequently drop new capsules of self-promoting products, to Justin Bieber’s pastor, Chad Veach, of Zoe Church, who has put forth his own collection of hoodie-and-shorts sets and branded athletic socks.
A recent addition to one of fashion’s favorite trends in the past few years: Billionaire Elon Musk, who has announced that his Los Angeles tunneling venture, called The Boring Co., brought in over $300,000 thanks to the sale of hats bearing the company’s name. As noted by CNBC, “Musk founded the tunneling firm after becoming frustrated with traffic in Los Angeles. His idea is to build a series of tunnels under LA with cars ferried around on pods at around 125 mph.”
To help raise awareness for the company, the Tesla CEO made his first foray into merch by way of the hat, which become available for sale for $20 in October. Musk revealed last week via Twitter that not even two months later, The Boring Co. has sold more than $300,000 in hats – so more than 15,000 hats. His tweet read: “Initial Hat Offering going great [with] over $300k in hat sales already! Thanks for buying our super boring hat. You rock, figuratively & literally. All cash goes directly towards more boring.”
While Musk’s project is far from ready to go – “no permit has been issued yet," per CNBC – the hats (and the budding market for counterfeit Boring Co. garments) seem to indicate that merch is certainly not dead just yet.