Minutes before Kanye West's L.A. pop-up store opens on Fairfax Avenue, the Beckhams are checking out the merchandise. Together with father David, Brooklyn (his spitting image, now somehow 17 years old, in a Yeezus T-shirt) and Cruz (11, sporting Vans that match David's) peruse the small space, checking out the rails of Kanye's The Life of Pablo limited-edition clothing line while listening to “Ultralight Beam” and “Wolves” boom out of the Sonos speakers — white to match all the checkout stations.
Today 20 other pop-up stores just like this have sprung up across the globe, all featuring Life of Pablo–themed merchandise and a Kanye soundtrack to promote both Ye's latest album and Sonos' latest high-end speaker line, which now includes a $700 subwoofer (available to the masses starting this fall). The L.A. pop-up, on the trendy 300 block of North Fairfax, will be open from noon to 8 p.m. for the next three days.
The Beckhams leave just before the doors slide open to welcome the first in line, a line that Ye fans have been camping in since 8 p.m. last night, just three blocks from similar lines outside the various exclusive shoe stores along this part of Fairfax. “They're literally just here for the merch,” says one of the many model-actresses hired to work the store until 10 p.m. this evening, or until all stock sells out. Indeed, nobody's even discussing rumors of a Kanye appearance. Wife Kim Kardashian West is in Mexico with the reality TV family, but even though Kanye is rumored to still be in L.A., he doesn't show.
Outside there’s no signage on the storefront. “The previous sign didn’t fit with Kanye’s aesthetic,” says one member of staff. Inside, the team of about 30 people has been working since 9 a.m. Squeezed in between the Beckhams' visit and the general public is a media preview, so touching of the merch is not allowed. There will be no refunds — so the signs on the walls say — and all purchases will be bagged up in a clear, Kanye-logo'd Pablo plastic bag.
“Would you like to take a look at the menu?” offers one TLOP-adorned sales assistant. On today's menu are simple white and black hats bearing the letters “L O S A N G E L E S” for $45 a pop. The highest-priced item is the green military jacket at $325, each one custom-made with “PABLO” written on the back. Elsewhere purple and white T-shirts, long-sleeved tops and hoodies are available with various printed messages including “WE YOUNG AND WE ALIVE,” “WOKE UP AND FELT THE VIBE” and the simple but direct “PERFECT,” ranging from a positively cheap $55 to $105. The black satin bomber jacket, retailing at $250, is perhaps the pièce de résistance.
First through the door are Kanye's diehard disabled and limited-mobility fans. Every group is called in a handful at a time to have enough space to take selfies among the wares to their heart's content before making final decisions on their choices. You get the impression some customers are here just to buy up as much of this golddust as possible, in order to resell it on to fans elsewhere at a premium rate. And who can blame them? After all, if there's anything Kanye's fans should have learned by now, it's how to be a world-beating entrepreneur.