Travis Scott’s ‘Astroworld’: Album or luxury brand?

Sunday, February 24, 2019 - 2:44pm

Astroworld

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Pablo Supply. Astroworld. October’s Very Own. Gucci. Louis Vuitton. The 21st century has made these brands synonymous in terms of luxury, and the homogeneity of the prices reflect this. Social pressure is mounting for young people to be up to date on the latest fads, and specifically those generated by artists. This is where the artists we know and love come into play. Kanye West. Travis Scott. Drake. With prices ranging from $100 to $200 for a hoodie, what is driving people to pay so much money for such a conventional item?

If you haven’t heard of Astroworld yet, I’m going to be honest, you’ve probably been living under a rock. The masterpiece of an album by Travis Scott made its debut last summer and, since then, has captivated listeners whether they’re bobbing their heads up and down to “Sicko Mode” on an elevated surface or playing “Yosemite” on repeat on their way to class. Travis Scott has become a household name among millenials and the popularity of his limited merchandise only demonstrates this further. The Astroworld “Wish You Were Here” sweatshirts hit Scott’s website for $95 (not including shipping) only a few weeks after the album went out. Looking at the sweatshirt, it is difficult to understand why millenials are so eager to splurge on something that, to be frank, isn’t that exciting in its design. In fact, if the design had been entirely different, the number of sales would likely stay the same. This is because customers are buying the brand and what it means rather than the design. Sound familiar? This almost parallels the marketing behind designer brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton.

Now, before someone calls me out on diminishing the expertise that goes into creating designer brand clothing, consider the customers rather than the creators. Certain individuals are going to buy the new Balenciaga shoes whether they like them or not. This is because the attention they get and the impression they give off to those who see them wear the shoes compensates for the price or the look. The same can be said for sporting an Astroworld hoodie or wearing an “I Feel Like Pablo” shirt. For many millenials, owning these merchandise items creates a grey area between who that own the boots are actually die hard Travis Scott fans or merely following a trend. All of a sudden, the Travis Scott hoodie has become a way to prove oneself even though some purchasers know no songs besides “Sicko Mode.”

The importance of showcasing ones love for “I Feel Like Pablo” or Astroworld can be seen in the fact that Greek life organizations on various campuses have adopted their branding. Some sororities and fraternities have promoted rushing their organization by posting Facebook cover photos that have their organization written in the same font as the album. Since these artists and the albums in question have become so popularized, this is an effort to attract audiences using something that people automatically view as cool, likable, and hip. This goes on even further into apparel; people can essentially purchase an Astroworld hoodie for a marked down price that says “Alpha Phi” instead of “Astroworld.”

But for some customers this purchase not only signifies to those around them that they have listened to the album thoroughly enough to showcase it, but also that the artist is of great importance to them. Even the most frugal fans hold these artists in such high esteem that buying their merchandise is their way of paying their respects while also finding a way to be close to them. 

Though this may seem to contradict my earlier point about the parallels between the customers of designer brands and those of popular artists’ merch, it only further proves it. Not all customers of designer brands are swimming in wealth and mindlessly making purchases. Certain customers have placed a great deal of thought into their purchase. 

Therefore, the 21st century reflects this transition, or rather addition, of treating the merchandise of artists at the same level of designer brands. Whether or not customers are buying these luxury items to gain status or feed their passion, let’s be real, the outrageous price tag isn’t stopping anyone.