Andre Arias had been waiting outside of the VFiles store in Lower Manhattan since 7:30 p.m. the night before in order to be first in line for the launch of the Justin Bieber Purpose Tour pop-up shop.
Unlike the hoards of Bieber fanatics and streetwear enthusiasts lining the street, Arias was there to profit. He attends most of the major celebrity merchandise events, including Drake’s “Views” shop last week, and turns over garments for up to 300 percent of its original cost via his Instagram account.
The rise of pop-up shops, either led by the celebrities themselves or in collaboration with fashion designers, is continuing to gain traction within the streetwear industry. In addition to the Drake event, Kanye West recently launched a pop-up shop to showcase his Yeezy fashion line in tandem with his album “The Life of Pablo.”
While some line-goers are vying for $3,000 Yeezy sweatshirts, others are drawn to the hype and the chance to catch a glimpse of their favorite celebrities. At the Bieber shop, the singer himself had been expected to make an appearance at his two-day event, which features exclusive merchandise from his “Purpose” tour, including branded items that can only be found at VFiles. The apparel was inspired by Bieber’s concert wardrobe, designed by Fear of God’s Jerry Lorenzo.
VFiles is allowing 20 people at a time to enter the shop to browse and purchase apparel like limited edition hoodies that retail for $120 and embroidered jean jackets for $350.
Arias said he started to get requests for Bieber apparel the night before, with followers pledging $120-$150 for a T-shirt (which would be selling for $30-40 in-store) and offering up as much as $300 for a sweatshirt.
“People love the Biebs, he can do no wrong,” Arias said. “It doesn’t matter how many pisses he’s taken in the street or how many middle fingers he gives his neighbor, that man is golden.”
He added: “Anything associated with him, people are going to want, and anything associated with him that’s really rare or limited only drives that demand up that much higher.”
Sarah Morales, a sophomore at Laboratory Institute of Merchandising College who joined the line relatively late at 10 a.m., credited music’s role in the rise of streetwear, particularly as the industry has become increasingly image-based.
“With how visual the music industry has become, there’s a lot of room for product placement and a lot of room for celebrities to get endorsed and wear clothing,” she said.
Image via DFree/Shutterstock