Concert Merchandise: Where the Music and Fashion Industry Collide

By: Izzy Hermelin

For years, artists in the music industry have used fashion  influences to extend their brands. Lady Gaga, although known for her catchy songs and serene voice, would not be the Lady Gaga we all know without her “meat dress” and sky high heels. Michael Jackson’s signature white sparkling glove and ornate performing costumes are all that cover the walls at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles. While his music leaves a lasting legacy, one look at that red leather jacket and people immediately know it’s from Thriller. The fashion and music industries have a strong history of aiding each other to ultimately create an icon.

Besides establishing the artist’s image, clothing is slowly becoming the new business strategy that the music industry is focusing on in order to create additional revenue flows. Due to the rise in music streaming services such as Apple Music, Spotify, Soundcloud and others, artists are struggling to make CD and record sales surrounding their recent tours. These musicians have needed to find another outlet in order to create buzz around their album launches. Recently, concert merchandise has become the sole focus of creating a concert tour’s image.

Music artists such as Kanye West, Justin Bieber, and Travis Scott have set a new bar for concert merchandise. Instead of a low quality, underwhelming T-Shirt that you’ll convince yourself to spend $40 on to wear to bed, these artists new merchandise use streetwear designers to create a desirable product. Kanye West has Yeezy Seasons, Justin Bieber used Fear of God designer Jerry Lorenzo to create his Purpose tour merchandise, and Travis Scott used Virgil Abloh in his iconic Astroworld collection. Concert merchandise is now modeling the business model of streetwear companies with their exclusive collaborations and clothings “drops.”  Everything they are producing is seen as limited. When attending the Travis Scott Astroworld Concert, you can expect to receive a myriad of texts from friends asking “can you please get me a hoodie or t-shirt from the concert?” The exclusivity of concert merchandise has become understood, as people recognize that if they do not receive the clothing first hand, they will have to buy it on a resale site for double the price. Concert merchandise is a memento of the time, and that is because of the fashion industry.

Brian Zhao