“It was amazing,” says 19-year-old Benedict as he and his two triumphant friends emerge from the blacked-out store holding bags of merchandise. They pull their long-sleeved shirts over their heads and compare their finds. Big, burly bouncers struggle with the weight of a large crowd.
Yesterday, Kanye West announced on Twitter that 21 “Pablo” pop-up merch stores would open worldwide this weekend. For his Sydney location he chose The Pacific Bondi Beach, on the corner of Beach Road and Campbell Parade.
Hundreds of people are waiting in line, shifting from foot to foot, some sitting on the ground, others on milk crates or camping chairs they’ve brought. Marshals shoo the masses from surrounding private driveways. People read books, play on their iPhones or listen to music, taking it in shifts for toilet and snack breaks.
Hawkers ride bikes and stroll up and down the 300-strong queue carrying T-shirts and shouting, “Resale! Florescent long sleeve for $10 dollars more than the retail price.” The shirts are green and yellow, a customised tribute to the store’s Australian location. “How much?” shouts 18-year-old Tom from the crowd. “$110!” cries the young hawker as he sails past on his bike. “Bargain,” murmurs Tom.
When asked why she’s been lining up for more than four hours Kristen, 22, looks at me as if I just asked her who Kim Kardashian is. “Because it’s Kanye,” she says, staring at me with the eyes of the devout. Roxy, 21, chimes in, “We are a part of history … we get to go into one of 21 stores he’s opened in the entire world.” They gesture at a girl several meters in front of them, “She paid $50 to jump the queue,” says Kristen.
“I’m going to buy the hat and the I Feel Like Pablo jumper,” adds Tyrone, 24, sitting on his large, green deckchair, kicking his $1,000 Yeezy sneakers in front of him.
Travelling further along the line Eliza, 17, and Chloe, 15, are among many who skipped school to be here. “When Kanye tweeted that he was opening a store in Sydney, I just had to go,” she says. “It was worth driving the two hours from the Blue Mountains.” When asked how long they will wait Chloe says, “All night if I have to, we’ve brought blankets.”
When asked how she managed to wait in line since 10.30am this morning when she has a full-time job as a real estate agent, 21-year-old Anthea tells us she cancelled all her appointments, “It’s worth spending $120 on a T-shirt.”
Things were just as manic in Melbourne – people camped out from 4.30pm the previous afternoon outside the Brunswick Street pop-up store.
The store will only be open this Friday (10am–8pm), Saturday (10am–6pm) and Sunday (11am–5pm). There will be allocated parking on Curlewis Street.
The stores will pop up in 20 other locations over the weekend, including in London, Berlin, New York, Cape Town and Amsterdam.