Is Merch Becoming Fashion?

The simple tee with a name on the front and a list of cities and tour dates on the back: a staple concert souvenir. Nothing special or new, just names and numbers on a generic shirt.

However, over the years, merch has become creative, fashionable, and perhaps a defining aspect of modern street style. Artists are beginning to make their merchandise more popular than the music itself, transforming their songs into a physical manifestation that fans can endorse. Rather than being sold at concerts for about forty dollars, these pieces can sell for hundreds due to the high demand and limited quantity and accessibility. One of the most recent and prominent examples is Travis Scott’s Astroworld merch. The clothing that represents this artist has quickly become a staple in the street style world. Scott may be taking steps to create his fashion ventures into a fully formed brand in the footsteps of Virgil Abloh, Tyler the Creator, Kanye West, and many more.


Travis Scott x Off-White “Astroworld” merch


Travis Scott has collaborated with Virgil Abloh’s brand, Off-White, in the making of an “Astroworld” tee. Also, in the celebration of Nike Air Force 1’s 35th anniversary both Abloh, Scott, and a few other artists collaborated to create their versions of the iconic shoe. Abloh himself was originally a DJ and music producer before he founded Off-White and became the artistic director of men’s wear at Louis Vuitton. Also, a very close friend of Abloh’s is Kanye West. The two met while interning at Fendi in 2009, forming a close friendship that resulted in West appointing Abloh as the artistic director for his album, Watch the Throne, in 2011. Now West himself has founded his street style brand, Yeezy, and has had large collaborations with Adidas. In a similar trend, Golf Wang, founded by Tyler, the Creator has defined streetwear with impressive collaborations with brands such as Vans and Converse.


Travis Scott x Off-White “Astroworld” merch


However, the widespread popularity of merchandise is not limited to hip-hop but also pop. For example, Justin Bieber’s Purpose World Tour merch became widely accessible in large retail stores, such as Forever 21, H&M, and Urban Outfitters. Thereby creating a culture where you do not need to go to a concert to represent your favorite artists because it is being sold in a store like any other brand.



Justin Bieber Purpose Sweatpants


Most streetwear merchandise is limited and expensive, considering they are mainly sold online or in a few small stores. Therefore, these newer brands made by singers and rappers are primarily competing with higher fashion brands in the competitive market. This begs the question: is merch becoming equivalent to fashion? Even though certain traditional high fashion brands have been in the market for many decades, these newer brands are a successful rival to them and are gaining a high status in the fashion world. Perhaps this is because these new brands have the powerful medium of music to attract an audience of consumers, giving artists like Travis Scott, Tyler the Creator, and many more an ambitious edge. Overall, these artists must be commended. It takes massive amounts of creativity and ingenuity to be able to intersect music culture and fashion in such a natural and compelling manner.



Pusha T Daytona your tee


Kanye Wyoming Hoodie


Kanye Saint Pablo Tour Forum tee


FAST Blogger

 Isabella Eagan

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