I am Not Shopping for What Justin Timberlake’s Pop-Up Is Promoting

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An actual man of the woods wants beard oil. Picture: Megan Reynolds

By most accounts, Justin Timberlake’s newest musical providing, Man of the Woods, is unhealthy—a half-hearted try at getting again to his roots whereas reconciling his new identification as a fundamental L.A. dad. Towards all comprehensible odds, it debuted on the high of the Billboard 200—maybe because of washed dads like Timberlake himself—however I’m fairly positive his three-day Man of the Woods pop-up expertise in New York Metropolis had nothing to do with it.

The retail expertise, curated and orchestrated by Bravado, was housed in an empty storefront in Soho throughout the first weekend of New York Style Week. The draw, after all, was doubtless not the Breeze off the Pond x Maestro Basic beard butter or the Wave x Warby Parker unique sun shades accessible for buy, however the Air Jordan three JTH, a collaboration between Timberlake and designer Tinker Hatfield. The sneakers, which retail for $200 and are actually solely accessible for an exorbitant markup through varied on-line resellers, made their debut on Timberlake’s toes throughout his anemic Tremendous Bowl Halftime efficiency and have been essentially the most thrilling a part of the whole spectacle.

Debuting the sneaker on the Tremendous Bowl was a sensible transfer by Nike (free promoting); making the sneakers accessible at this extremely pointless pop-up is the savviest determination Timberlake has made for the reason that Trolls soundtrack. Conventional retail is dying and the retail “experience” is rising to take its place—Instagram-worthy occasions that are supposed to promote some limited-edition items, however hype most of all. If a client occurs to go away an expertise with a candle or a $50 Moleskine, take into account it a bonus. For musicians like Timberlake, who could be quietly panicking at how the passage of time has rendered their shtick irrelevant and barely passé, a heavily-curated pop-up store constructed largely on the energy of a trend sneaker is nothing greater than a determined grasp at relevancy—a strategy to show that he’s a cool dad who’s nonetheless acquired it.

The sneakers in query. Picture: Megan Reynolds


By the point I arrived Sunday morning, a small line had shaped within the spitting rain. A woman behind me stood with a rolling suitcase, ready patiently for the doorways to open. She polled the road about whether or not or not there have been any sneakers left. Phrase travelled right down to us that the sneakers had bought out by Friday morning and other people camped out Thursday night time to get them. “I could budget at least $200,” a person in entrance of me stated with nice certainty. All of us agreed that something over that value level can be an pointless extravagance and a waste of cash. It was clear that nobody in line was actually there for Timberlake’s music, although the 2 individuals I used to be subsequent to agreed that 20/20 was a few of his finest work. The brand new album hadn’t actually moved the needle for anybody I spoke with.


As soon as I lastly gained entry, I discovered myself in an area that was organized kind of like a museum. A smiling attendant handed me a sheet with product photographs and costs; the Jordans, two $25 bandanas and a $250 Levis jacket have been crossed out. What was left have been different markers of Timberlake’s supposed new persona: beard oil; a $350 Pendleton blanket; a $125 flask; and, laughably, a $350 axe that was sticking straight out of a tree trunk mounted to the wall. Every merchandise within the retailer was related to a track off the album. Should you significantly loved “Say Something,” the monitor the place JT enlists the assistance of Chris Stapelton for some nation cred, there’s a $50 shiny yellow Moleskine pocket book in your ideas; if the opening quantity “Filthy” is extra your pace, maybe a $500 silver vest that screams MAN OF THE WOODS in security orange on the lapel, crafted by streetwear designer Heron Preston, is extra your pace. The vest actually threw me for a loop; I puzzled for 5 minutes in entrance of it, questioning who exactly was the target market? Maybe simply Timberlake himself—a washed dad attempting to kick it with the kids, however not sure of how to take action with out seeming like a complete goon.


Bravado, the Common Music Group-owned merchandising firm chargeable for Timberlake’s try at rebranding, additionally orchestrated Kanye’s Yeezus pop-up and Justin Bieber’s Goal tour merch, the latter of which successfully modified the best way artists take into consideration and deal with merchandising. “It set the tone that merch was becoming this other way to reach fans,” Joe Perez, former artistic director of DONDA, instructed Advanced in 2016. “The pop-up store is another [fan] experience. People line up for blocks. It’s crazy. Sometimes you’ll see the same people there for three days in a row.”

Should you can’t attain followers via your music, may as properly kick them proper within the pockets, I suppose. Given these info, the intuition to work with Bravado is right, however the outcome, for Timberlake at the least, is lukewarm. Collaborating with streetwear designers and focusing on the individuals who would wait in line for a Supreme drop is one strategy to fire up buzz, however the result’s empty when it’s this inorganic: hype for hype’s sake.

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