Fashion and tour merchandise are officially intertwined. Today's music sensations are about more than just their latest album, but have become cultural symbols. Musicians have always tried to become part of the fashion conversation, but lately those extensions have become effortless and almost expected. The conversation extends beyond what they themselves are wearing to what they are selling, both through their own clothing lines and their tour merchandise.
Merch has evolved from something to document a moment in time, that would eventually be stuck on a wall or used as pajamas, to a legitimate fashion statement. As Mat Vlasic, CEO of Bravado puts it, "ten years ago, merch was 100% event driven. You were buying a token to show you were at this specific event at this specific time." Now it just shows you are part of a lifestyle, one that embraces your artist of choice, but also favors bold graphic design and tweetable phrases.
Merch can also be a way for artists to expand on the success of their main fashion lines. For Kanye fans, TLOP merch was everything his Yeezy collection wasn't; affordable, accessible, and more wearable in the context of the average person's life. However Beyonce's Ivy Park line and the merch for sale on her site coexist nicely, and some pieces could even be part of the same line. For these artists, branded merchandise is another key element in their distribution model, one that is accessible, expressive and inspiring.
The popularity of streetwear also has had a major influence on the buzz surrounding merch. Everyone is looking for a dope new t-shirt, beanie or hoodie to complete that look. I'm not even a big streetwear fan, but am kind of obsessing over Rihanna's Anti Tour sweat pants. Rest assured next time I head to a concert I may find myself rocking the gear, then working those pieces into some of my off-duty looks.