Justin Bieber is depressed. “He’s emotional and struggles a lot with the idea of fame — being followed, having his every move stalked by fans, cameras in his face,” a source close to the 25-year-old pop star told People in February. “It all sets him off and he often feels like everyone is out to get him.” In a February interview with Vogue, he disclosed that he’d been addicted to Xanax and also sex. His career has stalled out, and his pet monkey, who was seized at the German border in 2013, is struggling to adjust to life without him. Meanwhile, the man who gave him the monkey, a Las Vegas rapper/exotic animal collector/proprietor of an escort service named Mally Mall, has gone on to be the subject of racketeering and public corruption investigations. It hasn’t been a great time for Justin Bieber.
But! Justin Bieber is getting better. He took a year-long vow of celibacy, married Haley Baldwin, and seems to be on his way to recovery with the support of his hipster church. He’s gonna take his metaphorical horse to the Old Town Road, and he’s gonna metaphorically ride ‘til he can’t no metaphorically more. And when he stops, he will presumably record a new album that’s so good that it will make everyone forget about the time he micturated into a bucket while yelling “Fuck Bill Clinton!”
In the meantime, Bieber has started a boutique streetwear brand. That boutique streetwear brand is called the House of Drew. It’s called the House of Drew because Justin Bieber’s middle name is Drew and French people call fashion brands “houses.”
Anyways, Drew is also my name. I’ve always wanted some clothes with my name on them, so after I found out that basically all of the House of Drew clothes also had the name “Drew” on them, I got really excited and decided to buy something. Many popular streetwear and streetwear-adjacent brands, such as Supreme or Noah (which was created by a former Supreme guy and is basically Supreme for adults or, more-adult adults), drive up demand for their goods by artificially creating scarcity — manufacturing relatively small amounts of each product so that each new run will quickly sell out. For brands that operate online, this also creates “stickiness,” encouraging consumers to frequently check their website out in case they’ve come out with a new corduroy strap-back hat. All of this is to say that, when I went to the House of Drew website, they were sold out of everything except for one thing, which was this hat:
I checked the House of Drew site a few days after I ordered the hat to see if there was anything else I could buy from them (House of Drew = sticky AF), and saw that the brand’s entire stock had sold out. I briefly did some research to see if I should sell my House of Drew beanie on the robust streetwear secondary market after I finished writing this article and discovered that the brand’s hoodies sell for a significant markup on the online menswear marketplace Grailed, suggesting that I might be able to make a profit off of this hat, which cost my employer $33 plus shipping. On the other hand, since this is Justin Bieber’s streetwear company we’re talking about, I would probably be selling my hat to a child, which is weird and kind of fucked up. Then again, all streetwear brands are for children, so whatever.
I’m not sure what else to say about this hat, honestly. It is 100% acrylic, made in Vietnam, and embroidered in Los Angeles. Up close, it looks exactly like something you’d buy at a gas station, and the applied-in-Los-Angeles patch has a tendency to jut out a little bit as if it were your third eye, and that third eye were a smiley face that said “Drew” on the mouth. But mainly, it is a hat. It does the same thing that all other hats of its type — technically known as the beanie — do, which is they keep your head warm when it’s cold but don’t keep it so warm that you can’t wear them when it’s hot out. The other day I took mine and my partner’s dogs into the backyard of our apartment building and struck up a conversation with our neighbor, whose dog was already out there. We chatted as all the dogs ran around playing and barking and stuff; a few minutes into our conversation, I realized I was wearing a hat with my own name on it and felt very, very self-conscious. If my name weren’t also Drew I would probably be more comfortable wearing my House of Drew hat, but alas.
If you don’t like Justin Bieber but like smiley faces it would probably be okay to wear it at a bar or somewhere else where people wouldn’t automatically realize you’re wearing something that came from Justin Bieber; if you like Justin Bieber this hat will be okay to wear wherever. About a third of the House of Drew items cost $148, but many cost well under that, which feels somewhat unfair when you remember that these are items that are mainly purchased by children. Still, none of the goods sold at the House of Drew are are so expensive that eighth-graders will regret having bought them once they’re in high school. Bieber’s not exactly practicing Fugazi Capitalism over here, but hey, few of us are.
Each of the items that cost $148 appear to be half of a set. The yellow and beige “Skidoodle” hoodies go with the yellow and beige “Skidoodle” sweatpants; the “Rick” corduroy shirt goes with the “Rick” corduroy pants, creating a combination that, if I found out about House of Drew earlier than two weeks ago, I would have bought and worn proudly. Of the less-expensive items listed, there are T-shirts, both tie-dyed and non, short-sleeved and long, as well as trucker hats. Basically everything says “Drew” on it; many, like my hat, feature the “Drew” as the smiling part of a smiley face.
In terms of streetwear brands started by Justin Bieber, House of Drew is fine. It might even be good? It’s hard to tell, because any time I want to make fun of the House of Drew, I remember that it must suck to be Justin Drew Bieber. He is a product of a society that turns its celebrities into products, and it’s almost impossible not to read the House of Drew website as being in conversation with his public admission of depression. After all, his music takes his specific wants, desires, and goals and filters them through a team of songwriters and producers and creative directors until they yield some kinda bland pop songs whose commercial-friendly generality nevertheless hints at whatever’s going on in his life.
Why would the House of Drew be any different? The brand’s website is yellow and minimalist, little more than an online store that any of us could have set up, but given the vast sums of money under Justin Bieber’s control, it’s safe to assume that he could have at least sprung for something more than the Shopify page he’s using now. Meanwhile, the language that pops up in the House of Drew product descriptions is dry and detached, with little in the way of capitalization, mixing product information with non-jokes and non-sequiturs. The page for the “Rick” corduroy shirt, for example, notes that it’s ethically made in Los Angeles, has non-gendered sizing, “goes really well with the rick pants,” and that “it is physically impossible for you to lick your own elbow.” (I get the overall impression that the site’s tone is meant to be in lockstep with the online irony meme crowd, whose own overlap with depression is well-documented.)
It’s easy to say that even if Justin Bieber is depressed, he should not be selling $148 sweatshirts to subsidize his creative fallow period. Justin Bieber became famous before he had a full understanding of what fame would bring; if, at the age of 25, he were able to do it all over again, he might decide to never sing at all and instead become a gas station attendant in rural Ontario with disconcertingly good bone structure. It’s not that Justin Bieber specifically is bad or good, or that he specifically should be famous or not famous, because that would imply that fame is some sort of reward that people earn through sheer talent, whether that talent is singing or dancing or acting or inventing Bitcoin. Instead, no one should be famous ever, because fame drives you crazy. I paid $33 to get a hat with my own name on it. Justin Drew Bieber, on the other hand, has paid his soul.