Current Events

Inside Kanye West's Pop-Up #PabloStore at The Galleria

The demand among Houston fans for anything Kanye West-related can be easily explained: he raised some of this generation. Whereas kids born in the mid-'80s grew up explicitly upon the rap heroes of the ‘90s and early aughts, kids born in the ‘90s sit at the altar of Yeezus.

That altar morphed into an apparel shrine across 21 cities worldwide on Friday, after West announced that there would be "Pablo" pop-up stores at each location selling apparel exclusively from his upcoming Saint Pablo tour. Houston fans in particular couldn’t wait. Fans (and potential resellers) camped out as early as 5 AM waiting to get their hands on anything from a T-shirt to a bomber jacket.

If you were another brand opting to launch a pop-up store on Friday, you were out of luck (sorry Cash Money Records and your NYC spot). West’s belief in aesthetics is why everything about him ranges from intriguing to polarizing to off-putting. The Pablo Store is all of these and more. Posh and clean, West fans gathered to not only shop but gauge their own interests as to what brought them to the store. As sounds from The Life of Pablo blared from the speakers, it felt like a massive warp into the world of Kanye, where self-belief is king.

As a crowd gathered inside, everyone peeked inside, curious about what would be bought and why they bought it. A group of early-twentysomethings opted for long-sleeve T-shirts and then surrounded one another outside the store like they held the proverbial golden ticket. Outside the store, fans snaked near black glass doors and a couple of deputy-monitored lines to keep people from getting rowdy or skipping. Velvet ropes. The strict entrance policy to prevent overcrowding made it feel more like Club Yeezy sans alcohol or bleach.

Inside, all of the gear was Houston-centric. Workers wore blank red T-shirts and hats and helped expedite the shopping process via Apple Pay. Shoppers questioned themselves if they were going to grab anything short of a hat inside the store. The priciest item: a military-green jacket tagged around $375 USD. Much of the Pablo apparel gives gravity to the idea that words are far more important than the canvas. Hats sold for $45, T-shirts for $55. Crewnecks and long-sleeve T-shirts ventured anywhere from $75 to $95; hoodies and bomber jackets were priced at $105 and $250, respectively.

Some joked about screen-printed Yeezy quotes on Wal-Mart branded T-shirts and took to social media to laugh and joke. It didn’t matter. Sources have already predicted that all of the items at the Pablo Store would be sold out by Friday night, with no restock occurring during its stay in Houston.

That’s what happens when the demand to stand out is high, especially when you’re a disciple of Pablo.

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Brandon Caldwell has been writing about music and news for the Houston Press since 2011. His work has also appeared in Complex, Noisey, the Village Voice & more.
Contact: Brandon Caldwell