What was evident during my scroll of today’s morning news (on the lighter end of things) were that many New York-based media outlets tortured, at least, one of their employees to go wait in line and check out The Life of Pablo pop-up shop (In Soho, this past weekend). If you recognize the italicized title, you’ve already gathered that the merchandise sold was focused on Kanye West‘s latest and more odd (but still genius) than My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album, The Life Of Pablo (also known as TLOP).
The surprise shop was set to be a mix of merch donning TLOP fonts and imagery while also containing pieces from his most reason Yeezy Season 3, and selects from 1 and 2. It sounds like there were a lot of choices for whoever was lucky enough to get in. But inside, as pictures have shown, it was a small space with mainly TLOP items.
And speaking of luck, the TLOP shop wasn’t an A-list event in which only eager to please members of the press or knowing the right people got you in. It was open to the public. But because it’s Kanye West and he is synonymous with hype beast nation, (not really West’s fault, but for whatever reason, they flock to him like the deity he wants us to view him as), made the shop the talk of Soho. If you remotely cared.
I didn’t have any intentions of purchasing a TLOP piece. But I did want to get a literal feel of the clothes myself for this post. I already knew the lines would be crazy. But just how crazy? I underestimated his fans. When my friend Alejandro and I got to Wooster Street, even before reaching number 83, we saw a small sea (or lake?) of people and I instantly thought “Awww shit.” I knew I should’ve come earlier. (But I had chosen to make a pit stop into Glendale in Queens to go to Ulta first. Damn!)
My friend and I scoffed and gasped at the line that started on the 83 Wooster side and wrapped around to across the street. “Ugh”, I just kept thinking to myself. I wanted to be in and out. I was willing to wait a little bit. Like 20 minutes. Maybe thirty. Okay, an hour. But this line was a hot mess of thirst. (We’ve all been there when it comes to fashion. But I have yet to surrender to the cult of West to such a degree).
Before we felt like bothering on whether or not the line was worth it, Alejandro and I chose to kill some time at Moschino on the same block as 83rd. It’s such an amazing store with life-size replicas of Moschino items like the black or red Michael Jackson inspired motorcycle jackets, designed by Jeremy Scott.
I took a mandatory picture with one of the amusement-park-like standings. Last time I was there, I sat in a red high heel chair. This time, I posed on the brim of a Moschino cap as if it were the beach at Coney Island.
When we exited Moschino, we noticed that across the street, another crop of kids were in a huddle and realized that was the real end of the Pablo line. Oh, come on! The line had reached the opposite street’s end of the block! This was becoming nothing short of a Supreme launch every Thursday morning at nearby Layafette Street.
It was also obvious that amongst the die-hard, whatever Complex or High Snobiety says is hot goes, crowd, that resellers were within, ready to make cake off of Kanye fans.
I then decided to ask a policeman near the imaginary golden gates of the Pablo entrance just how long the wait was going to be. He looked amusingly exasperated and said: “At least 5-6 hours.” Wha?
I was thinking of pulling a fast one since I got editorial credentials. But I couldn’t even distinguish a Pablo organizer to ask further. 6 hours?! That realization received a “hell no” and we kept on walking back up Wooster to check out a Costume National sample sale ahead.
Along the way, we saw a handful of people already wearing their gear clearly out the shop. A lot of the denim jackets with Pablo written in gothic-mimicking red vinyl font. They looked nice, but damn. A six-hour wait for that?
(Here’s a hilarious excerpt from RollingStone.com about the Pablo items: “While [those in line] acknowledged that the Pablo bomber jacket was “fire,” they thought the price was too high. The headgear was dubbed a “dad hat,” they accused the hoodies of being Hanes, and the blue-and-orange color scheme of some shirts was more baseball than Pablo: “I ain’t trying to buy Mets gear.” )
Alejandro was interested in possibly getting some low rise boots at Costume National. After we browsed, he said hi to an employee who was also helming the transactions. Alejandro recalled him from another sample sale event. His name is Desmond.
A light bulb then went ablaze above me and Alejandro’s heads. Because when in New York, guerilla style, we decided to carry an impromptu interview with Desmond about the Pablo pop-up shop and West’s overall impact on the kids and fashion. We had won the prize as our fashion insider guinea pig.
Our Q&A with him is below! (SQ is I. AQ is Alejandro).
SQ: What do you think of the Kanye West pop-up shop that is happening right now?
A: I think the Kanye West pop-up shop is dope AF. Because…it’s just crazy how his influence is on culture.
It started yesterday at 4 and they cut off the whole block! You couldn’t even walk on that block if you worked on that block. We had a customer from Celine here to try on clothes because he couldn’t get to work. I was like, is this real? Can they not sue this guy! What’s going on! I thought that was epic, though, that that could happen.
Q: Do you think West is a fashion icon for real? Or his music parlayed that to happen for him?
A: I think his [personal] style is more of a kind of fashion icon [status]. I don’t know if the things that he necessarily creates [are worthy of being] something of a fashion icon. But I definitely know his style is what started it. And that’s what people loved about him. So they’re still just trying to follow it. Looking at the clothes, I’m not too excited about it, but it’s still dope that his presence resonates like it does. No matter how many people feel that his items are marked up basics.
SQ: Yeah, we saw people wearing the items right away!
A: Not only are people wearing the items right away. The resell value is incredible.
SQ: Do you think it’s as big as a Supreme resell?
AQ: Do you think West’s clothes have longevity?
A: Longevity? Not too sure about the longevity. I think he’s resonating with the masses but those masses happen to be of a younger crowd. And with younger crowds, especially in today’s society, everything is hot one day, and not the next. It could be a couple of years and I don’t want to seem like a hater about it, but…
To be quite honest, in two to three weeks, there are going to be a Zara, H&M replicas, copies of his stuff.
And those type of companies do everything themselves and deliver much faster. They have production, their own shipping, their own designers. So if the third floor designs it, they send it to the fourth floor to produce, and they have their own manufacturers too. So they send it three blocks away so it can be manufactured and be in the store in two weeks. That’s how fast fashion is moving now.
That’s why so many big-owned, and fashion people, with runway collections this year, their collections are out. Check out Prada. Their runway collection is out now! The market is saturated so quickly. If they don’t get it out, by the time they put their things in the store, Zara already had it produced.
AQ: There is a rumor that Zara finishes their products on the boat.
S2: Alber Elbaz [formerly] of Lanvin mentioned or hinted that fashion is just too fast now. Milking out the passion out of the process…
A: Then, also! There’s not just the copying, but the pricing. Like, I work at a sample sale company. It’s not just a sample sale company. We’ve got high brands selling for the low because, by the time they release it, so many items have been mass produced, or other brands are making similar things. Some have no choice but to put their items on sale, or lower. That’s why they got to get it out faster. That’s why Prada got their runway line out right now. [Milan] Fashion Week was only last month.
SQ: It was so not like that ten years ago! Maybe even five!
A: Not at all. It’s cold. Look at Costume National. The designers from Costume National stepped down three, four days ago [as of March 19, 2016]. They had to close their store [recently here in New York]. The brand was epic. But the designers had to step down. It was more popular in the ’90s. And in ’86. In the ’90s, they were living life.
A2: They are also notorious for being one of those fashion brands that don’t do advertising.
A: They are notorious for the combat boot. That’s what Costume National is. One of the first to do the combat boot as fashion.
SQ: Which Alexander Wang does now and he’s like the “hip” designer now. The kids that are waiting in line for the Pablo shit, also like Alexander Wang.
A: It’s the hypebeasts. They are the hypebeasts. That’s why something could be hyped up one moment, but for these brands, it could be over the next, depending on. When a website like Hypebeast posts something, it’s hot already. If you got that influence
A2: People be charging, like the website Hypebeast, a pretty penny for some advertisement too.
A: It’s mostly influence. If you got that influence, you could be a hot commodity as long as you need to be or can be. Kanye? He’s just got that influence, and it’s working for him. I ain’t mad at him. That’s why I think it’s dope as fuck. Do your thing Yeezus.
AQ: Them kids waiting for six hours.
SQ: I don’t know who I would wait for, for six hours.
A: And those kids waiting for six hours want a part of that life. It’s a feel.
After our talk, a woman purchasing something from Costume National disclosed that she had waited for three hours and still wasn’t given admittance into the pop-up.