For decades now, merchandise has been essential to the music business, a way for fans to deepen their connection to artists, and for artists to extract more profits from their fans. This has taken many forms, from the parking-lot goodies at Grateful Dead shows to the extreme rock ’n’ roll logos of the 1980s to the bootleg hip-hop T-shirts in the 1990s. Today, merchandise — sometimes made in partnership with actual fashion companies — can be as crucial to a musician’s rise as the music itself.
The past five years have been banner ones for merch. Kanye West revitalized it as a space for experimentation, and more recently, his merch aesthetic has been absorbed into high fashion, thanks largely to the work of the designer Demna Gvasalia at Vetements and Balenciaga.
On this week’s Popcast:
Brian Procell, a historian and dealer and the proprietor of Procell, one of New York’s premier vintage clothing shops, discusses the history of music merch.
Emilia Petrarca, fashion news writer at The Cut, and
Lawrence Schlossman, the brand director of Grailed, join for a conversation about the merging of merch and high fashion.
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