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Is there a problem with the Italian rappers' merchandising?

It's about the quality of the garments and the designs

Is there a problem with the Italian rappers' merchandising? It's about the quality of the garments and the designs

Fashion and the world of hip hop have long been two intertwined environments that influence each other. Artists are affected, their records are affected, and the promotion of the latter is no less. If in the past we had grown up with the idea that a singer's merch was limited to what was sold on stalls outside concerts, today things have changed dramatically. Of course, it all started in the United States when Kanye West, on the occasion of his first albums, formed collaborations with BAPE and Fragment Design, thus making the t-shirts designed for the promotion of his records and tours very exclusive and highly sought-after in the reselling world. It went from there to the merch inspired by Riccardo Tisci for the Watch The Throne tour, or the designs conceived by Virgil Abloh for the hoodies and tees of the merch for Travis Scott's Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight tour. Gone were the days when fans just listened to their favorite artists; now they wanted to dress them up as well.

For their part, Italian rappers have always had their own merchandising but without consistently targeting it. In the past, for example, we had the "I hate Fabri Fibra" shirt, but it was with the explosion of trap that names like Sfera Ebbasta and Ghali began to look with interest at the merchandising market and the possibilities it offered. Thus BHMG and STO Clothing were born, not forgetting the partnerships with KFC, Evisu, and Benetton that came later. From 2016 onward, making a self-produced clothing line had become an essential step for any rapper coming out with a new record, a natural reflection of the explosion of streetwear, which was seeing its peak of maximum fame at that time. In addition to the aforementioned names, other rappers also decided to focus on clothing and merch lines: the Dark Polo Gang founded its Triple Seven Wear brand, while members of Lovegang had done the same with their eponymous brand. Hidden in all this succession of shirts and hoodies, however, is what remains a major problem to this day: the merch of Italian rappers always seems listless, in few cases designed to add something more beyond representing the album or live show of the day.

Right now, the merch of Italian rappers seems to be all the same with all too obvious inspirations from that of their American colleagues. A problem that is not limited to design, but reaches as far as the quality of the garments and the prices, which are far too high. Of course, there are exceptions, like with Mecna or the aforementioned Dark Polo Gang, which has even joined forces with Kappa for some collaborative drops. Isolated cases, however, make us wonder if Italian rappers should rethink their merch. A question whose answer, unexpectedly, is no. The numbers prove them right, given the speed with which the items put on sale go sold out. It comes naturally then to think that for the Italian public a rapper's merchandise is nothing more than an heirloom to be kept as a souvenir, to be worn at most to go to the same artist's concert. Fans are content and rappers do not need to make more effort. Yet this shows how far the Italian rap fanbase, the merch of an (Italian) rapper is not something that can be taken seriously. If it is okay to go out on a Saturday night with a Travis Scott hoodie from the Astroworld tour, the same evidence cannot be said for a Sfera Ebbasta brand T-shirt. There is a flaw in the narrative of hip hop in Italy. The dilemma is: does it depend on the artists or their fans?