Maestros of the Concert Merchandise Movement
One Friday morning in early May, eight high-end boutiques in the United States and Canada were flooded with desperate fans jostling to claim their piece of the Weeknd, snapping up bombers, hats, shirts and sweatpants celebrating his album “Starboy.” Two weeks later, at exactly 5 p.m., at more than 200 stores, Urban Outfitters released merchandise decorated with Lady Gaga’s face and the title of her album “Joanne” to barely controlled consumer delight.
Welcome to 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. From the first half of 2014 to the first half of 2017, the amount of tour-related products sold online increased by 720 percent, according to Edited, a company that tracks analytics at more than 90,000 brands and retailers.
Driving the phenomenon is Bravado, the division at Universal Music Group that works with entertainers such as Justin Bieber, Desiigner, Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga and the Weeknd to design, manufacture and distribute branded products; it is led by Mat Vlasic, an energetic New Yorker (and Riverdale Country School alum) who favors a black-on-black uniform and meditation for handling stress.
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