Continuing his mission to rule the world, Kanye West’s pop-up shops have returned. In support of his Life of Pablo album, he’s offering merchandise to his fans in select cities this weekend only, according to USA Today.
There will be 21 pop-up shops in total, spanning North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.
The cities included are Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Boston, Toronto, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Cape Town, Singapore, Melbourne, and Sydney.
The map provided on the official Kanye West website shows an interactive map. Clicking on each city displays locations, days, and times.
As Quartz reported, West’s pop-up shops do have some interesting rules for their customers. In fact, the rules seem downright rigid. If you’d like to touch the material of the clothing before you purchase, you’re out of luck. You can’t touch any of the Life of Pablo merchandise unless you’re definitely buying it.
Reportedly, customers are required to record their potential purchases on paper before they’re even allowed inside the shop, and then they have two minutes inside to make their decisions before they have to leave. Only three fans at a time are allowed inside the store, and one customer is only allowed to buy up to three pieces of the same item, presumably in an effort to prevent reselling online.
Considering West’s slightly quirky personality, fans probably aren’t the least bit surprised by this.
It certainly hasn’t stopped lines from forming for the pop-up shops, with fans dutifully waiting hours in line.
The shops began today (August 19) in several cities, including San Francisco, Boston, and Chicago, and some fans jumped online to share updates and photos.
These pop-up shops are becoming a trend with artists, with fans willing to shell out hundreds of dollars for specially-made merchandise in styles exclusive to the stores.
Drake launched a last-minute mini pop-up shop in NYC as promotion for his last album, Views, Billboard reported. The store was met with bittersweet reception, since many were hoping to catch a glimpse of the Canadian rapper, but he didn’t show up. He launched another on a slightly larger scale in the middle of his current Summer Sixteen tour, according to Vogue.
Justin Bieber is another artist making a splash with uniquely designed merchandise. Branded with “Purpose Tour,” song lyrics from the album, and/or images of the brooding, more mature face loved by many, the merchandise started with a VFiles pop-up shop in NYC before expanding to other cities.
Since then, he’s launched partnerships with retail brands to sell the merchandise exclusively online and in-store, including Barney’s (with the expected sky-high price tag), and Forever 21, which is much more affordable.
It’s becoming more and more common for artists to branch out into other worlds outside of music, and merchandise is even popular with people who aren’t necessarily hardcore fans. That’s probably because the items don’t only advertise an album or a tour, but they’re also stylish enough that the artists themselves would wear them everyday, making it alluring in a culture where “street style” is spreading in popularity.
Fans are still buying merchandise at the venue before and during shows as well, to make things sweeter.
Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have an alternative source of income when music is being streamed more than it’s being bought nowadays.
Unsurprisingly, when Kanye West announced his pop-up shops earlier this year, they brought crowds of fans and often sold out of merchandise, which West created in collaboration with artist Cali Thornhill DeWitt. More than likely, this round of pop-up shops is going to have the very same result.
[Photo by Jason DeCrow/AP Images]