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In an internet age where visuals are everything, sometimes a brand’s merchandise can be one of their strongest marketing tools. When fans purchase a piece of merch from a band or musician, it marks somewhat of a milestone; they not only appreciate this musician’s music, but are appreciative enough to go out and spend extra money on a piece of clothing that broadcasts their appreciation to everyone who encounters them.

Few musical acts have been able to truly master the art of merch, but a band that I feel has excelled in this area is the artistic zeitgeist that is Brockhampton. For those who are unfamiliar, Brockhampton is an American musical group comprised of not only singers, rappers, producers and musicians, but also web developers, visual artists, videographers, and photographers. Brockhampton skyrocketed in the past year due to their release of their first three full-length albums, Saturation I, II, and III, each dropped only months apart. All of the members live under one roof in Los Angeles, California, where they collectively brainstorm every song, every visual, and every photoshoot. This holistic, independent approach to producing content is perhaps what makes Brockhampton so unique and successful, as they are constantly interacting with each other and listening to fans, free of interference from outside sources.

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Instead of having merchandise available 24/7, Brockhampton chooses to drop their merch in highly anticipated releases, bringing a sense of exclusivity and excitement to each launch. One of these launches was announced several weeks ago, projecting an April 2nd drop date. The only information given at first was the title; “Gay”, most likely in reference to frontman Kevin Abstract’s sexuality and the group’s overall message of inclusivity. To give fans a peek into what was to come, Brockhampton released a lookbook on their site, featuring the line largely designed by the group’s visual artist Henock Sileshi and stylist Nick Lenzini and modeled by the members themselves. The retro, saturated feel of the photographs is a signature element of photographer Ashlan Gray, and combined with web developer Robert Ontenient’s website, the result is pure magic. Pieces largely include their hallmark couch logo, as well as quotes from songs and photographs of the band members themselves. The shirts, shorts, backpacks, socks, water bottles, hats, and notebooks are very representative of Brockhampton; a little bright, a little retro, fun, casual, and very, very cool.

This merch drop had me wondering why more musicians hadn’t pursued such an interest in merchandise before. Brockhampton itself is very influenced by Kanye West. After all, they all met on a Kanye fan forum. The idea of such exclusive, cutting-edge merchandise is very reminiscent of Kanye’s Yeezy collections, but why aren’t others following suit after seeing how successful such a release is? As music, fashion, and technology become more and more integrated, why haven’t more artists figured out that presenting new merch in exciting ways is a huge drive for both listeners and business? On April 2nd, Brockhampton’s “Gay” collection sold out almost completely within 10 minutes, so clearly they’re doing something right. Just as Brockhampton’s the future of music, they might just be the future of fashion too.

To see the full lookbook, click here.

To shop what’s left of the “Gay” merch drop, click here.

To listen to some of my favorite Brockhampton songs, click https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/dufffs/playlist/5vm0iNDGutYYBdUmeimMVl“>here.

All images by Ashlan Grey 2018.

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