Every Celebrity is Also a Brand Now, Get Used to It

Justin Bieber announced his new streetwear brand last week.

At a first glance, Drew House looks like an algorithmically generated mash-up of YEEZY and Chinatown Market. Muted colorways with a smiley face, this trend plus that trend. To no one’s surprise, practically everything in the first drop sold out — as will the next drop and the one after that ad infinitum.
Even more recently, the daughter of notorious Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán announced a new clothing label named El Chapo 701 after her old man. It seems everyone is a brand nowadays, be they famous or infamous.
The fact a pop star as bankable as Bieber has dropped his own brand says something about how today’s rich and famous stay, well, rich and famous. It’s what WGSN senior consultant and trend forecaster Brian Trunzo calls “passive income” and is a given for any artist trying to keep the money flowing when streaming services and illegal downloading have killed the record royalties model of income. Concert prices have skyrocketed and music merch has been remodeled away from being a mere perk of attending a live gig into a fashion trend (see the unlikely Grateful Dead renaissance) and an integral part of an artist’s income.
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