Last Friday, I achieved one of my many millennial dreams by attending a Kanye West pop-up shop and acquiring some of his highly coveted tour merchandise. When I first heard about his twenty one city event, I was immediately intrigued and truly excited for the opportunity to play my small role in “The Life of Pablo” movement. However, I didn’t realize the actual price tag associated with this three day shopping experience.
I’m not a “camp-out shopper” by nature, so I arrived at 9am for the 11am opening. The line had only wrapped around the first corner on the block, so I’m thinking there’s a 3 to 4 hour wait.. no big deal. The atmosphere was actually quite calm, and there was a sense of camaraderie amongst the sea of devotees. It’s as if we knew the wait was a bit ridiculous, but you do what you have to for Kanye. Once I’d reached hour 4 and had only moved about half way from my starting point, I could only wonder what was truly in store up ahead. But the customers leaving with their purchases seemed satisfied and most of them had been there all night, so I had little room to complain right?
Ultimately, I didn’t make it inside until 6pm which makes my wait time roughly 9 hours. The pop-up itself consisted of one small retail space, sparsely decorated in true Kanye fashion with racks of the product on display and one large “NEW YORK” decal on the wall in the signature gothic font. The space itself could only accommodate about fifteen people at a time, which helped to explain the excruciating wait. Once inside, you’re given an order sheet with a menu of twelve options varying slightly per location. In this case, they ranged in price from $45 dad caps to the $325 “PABLO” military jacket. (But sorry New York, no denim.) I wasn’t inclined to stay very long and there wasn’t much to see, so I took my order sheet to the counter, confirmed my picks and waited a few minutes to receive my clear plastic goodie bag.
As I walked out of the pop-up with the sound of “30 Hours” fittingly playing in the background, I felt a bit conflicted. I didn’t know whether to feel swindled out of an entire business day or like I’d just won the retail lottery. As a huge fan of Kanye West and fashion, I was willing to go to rather extreme lengths to shop this collection, but why should I have to? The entire operation was organized in a way that magnified the exclusivity of the products and built the anticipation of the shoppers, which is to be expected. But in my opinion, a mandatory wait that long should constitute more than a warm bottle of water and no real explanation for the delays. I realize that running several temporary stores worldwide is quite the undertaking, but it doesn’t take much to make your fans feel appreciated. At the end of the day, I’m just a slightly disappointed yet unwavering supporter of Mr. West with some enviable new tour merchandise that I can honestly say was very well deserved.
By Ariel Serano