Early Sunday morning, Kanye West and French retailer A.P.C. unveiled their collaborative clothing line. Unlike West's impossible-to-ignore design for the Nike Air Yeezy 2, these items minimalist jeans, t-shirts and hoodies come in muted colors with few adornments. There's only one thing loud about his clothing line: the price.
It's $265 for jeans, $280 for sweatshirts and a staggering $120 for a plain white t-shirt.
That's an exorbitant amount for a design-free white tee, even if it is Egyptian cotton (that higher-end material would put it in the $20-30 range). But then again, not every shirt is officially titled "Hip Hop T-Shirt." Who wouldn't drop over $100 for that catchy name?
Of course, this isn't without precedent: Celebrity designs/endorsements typically raise the demand (and therefore the price) of most items. But what's troubling—at least if you care about artistic hypocrisy—is seeing 'Ye putting a $120 t-shirt on the market just a month after dropping Yeezus, a challenging, no-bullsh-t album that included the anti-consumerist rant "New Slaves."
West himself said conspicuous consumption is used to dupe people, going as far as to liken society's obsession with name brands ("spending everything on Alexander Wang") to an elaborate, insidious form of slavery.
That's not to say a rapper who rails against excessive materialism shouldn't shill products—you can have reservations about a system while still participating in it. But it is rather jarring when the same guy who aggressively and relentlessly took on name brand consumption turns around and tries to sell you a t-shirt marked up $100 solely based on his name affiliation.
But then again, Kanye is a conflicted, contradictory figure. So maybe a little hypocrisy shouldn't be so shocking.