Rock Star Shoe Branding: The Wave of the Future or the Decline of Western Civilization?
Yesterday, Vans and Metallica announced they'd be releasing four different designs of Metallica-branded Vans, one designed by each member. For diehards, this new is probably amazing, I mean, what other piece of garb could you possibly add to your collection of Metallica swag (and shoes for that matter since they released a Kill Em All inspired shoe last March) than four pairs of Vans?
Metallica isn't the first band, and certainly won't be the last to lend their name and design capabilities in order to make a few extra bucks. In the climate of the music biz today, who could blame them? As an owner of Circle Jerks Vans and AC/DC Converse that I bought in London a few years ago, I completely understand the appeal IF they are designed correctly. I've gotten a number of compliments on the Circle Jerks shoes, and why wouldn't I? If you don't like the Circle Jerks, then you have no soul. Besides they look pretty damn badass as well.
While band-inspired sneakers are a pretty damn cool and seem to be replacing the concert t-shirt as a go to time for big named outfits, it could lead to strange possibilities and awkward co-branding that could make fans of bands of some not-quite-ready for mass commercialization a bit squirmy.
An example of this would be if a group like Passion Pit or a guy like Bon Iver took the plunge. Hey, it's possible, Animal Collective did it. When a Metallica-inspired shoe is released, no one really questions it because they're at the point in their career where they've earned the capital to make such a move. But could you imagine some Coachella-ready indie band like the Vampire Weekend licensed it's logo or the band's likeness to a sneaker company? There would be a potentially gigantic backlash and there would be rioting in Silver Lake and Williamburg with screams of sell out echoing as hipsters looted all sneaker shops that carried said items.
Joking aside, if more well established indie bands started licensing their logo and inspired shoe collections, it could be detrimental to their cause. Obviously for bigger bands, going the shoe route isn't a bad idea and even makes them more accessible to their fans. So that being said, for bigger bands with well established arena-level bands, licensing their logo or working a shoe company could be cool, but for others, they better think twice about the move before potentially pissing off their fans and being branded as sellouts.