At this year’s Coachella, Kanye West outlined his latest plan to part his faithful from their cash – a new line of spiritually branded clothing for his ‘Sunday Service’ set at the festival
No sackcloth and ashes here; West’s Sunday Service sweatshirts went for $165 up to $225. Even a pair of socks was a wallet-emptying $50.
West’s religion-themed new clotheswear brand may seem slightly eccentric, but in the grand scheme of odd music merchandise, his church-themed threads definitely have a seat at the back of the congregation…
When you come up with a band logo as iconic as those red lips, it would be a shame not to make the most of it. That’s precisely what the Stones did in 1983 – the year of their not-so-fondly-remembered album Undercover of the Night – when they released this touch-tone phone. John Pasche’s iconic image, which had been adorning Stones posters since the early 1970s, made for the perfect shape for a phone back in those days when people actually used them to make phone calls.
The British singer’s face has adorned each of her three albums so far (carrying on the fine trail blazed by Phil Collins in the 1980s), so it’s not unusual to find her features emblazoned on her official merch. But a sleep mask, featuring her own lashes in the blinds-down position? Proof that the sharpest merch-making minds figure out a way to make you represent the brand, even when you’re not awake.
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One Direction Duct tape
For many bands, any merch which deviates from the T-shirt/poster/sew-on patch is beyond the dreams of avarice. But to marketing teams helping launch modern pop ensembles, success often lies in the most brazen approaches. Take One Direction, the fresh-faced British pop group who bestrode the last decade like a 10-legged, heavily manicured colossus. Very much alive to the power of branding, the group allowed its image to grace countless products, from jewellery to bed linen to make up kits. But their branded duct tape, no doubt designed for decorating school books, diaries and anything else within a 1D fan’s arm’s reach, takes marketing to the next-level.
The Detroit band didn’t just want to be as big as The Beatles – they wanted to be as big as Levi’s. One of the first bands to truly appreciate the branding opportunity of their fan club – the KISS Army, if you will – the Detroit schlock rockers slapped the double-thunderbolt logo on everything from lunchboxes to beer coolers at a time when most bands were just cottoning on to getting T-shirts printed.
Even in death, KISS cater to their most ardent fans. Should they want to, the KISS fan who has rocked all night and partied every day for the last time can be interred in their very own casket sporting the face-painted four. All yours for around $4,000; after all, you can’t take it with you.
Justin Timberlake’s axe
Things were different when Justin Timberlake was a member of N*Sync – their merch was aimed squarely at mall-hanging teens; strong on primary colours, low on subtlety. But what happens when you’re a former teen-pop idol who’s entering his late-30s? Cue a Bon Iver-style beard and lumberjack-friendly visual aesthetic/tinges of Americana on the most recent album Man of the Woods. Timberlake launched a pop-up store in New York last year just weeks after the release of the album, offering a loftily titled menu of items based on the album’s tracks. Not least amongst them was a $300 axe linked to the album’s track Livin’ Off The Land. At the very least, you might be able to work off some of that frustration from the album’s less-than-emphatic reviews by chopping some firewood.
Weezer have always had an arched eyebrow, and whether it be their choice of covers (Toto’s Africa) or videos (the Happy Days homage of Buddy Holly), that attitude has spread to their merchandise too. Weezer have, like many bands, baby onesies (noting, perhaps, that many of the fans who rocked out to the early albums have a little more on their hands these days). When the snuggie explosion detonated in 2009, the band released their own fetching sleeping-bag-with-arms alongside their dog-adorned album Raditude.
White Stripes film cameras
Chief Stripe Jack White takes his role as analogue cheerleader very seriously – recording the likes of 2003’s Elephant in London’s Toe Rag Studios precisely because it had an analogue desk. And the Stripes’ merchandise also celebrated analogue tech – from a sewing kit complete with buttons to unbutton, to a mini-record player for playing three-inch records from the band’s record collection. But they didn’t stop there – fans wanting to snap away at a White Stripes show could do so with a special Jack White Edition Holga film camera, just the thing to make your images more authentic and analogue. Ex-wife Meg had her own version, in case you wanted to complete the set.
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Dr Dre magnetic fridge poetry
Looking for a fridge poetry set with a little more sizzle in its shizzle? Look no further than the Dr Dre Magnetic Fridge Poetry Set, a cuss-laden poetry generator that brings the NWA vibe straight out of Compton all the way to your kitchen.
The rapper’s childhood home became famous thanks to the sleeves of his third album The Marshall Mathers LP, released back in 2000. When he heard the house was being demolished in 2016, he saved 700 of the bricks – and sold them via his website, along with a cassette copy of The Marshall Mathers album. Bricks, as we all know, are hugely useful – but a cassette? What was he thinking of…