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Bieber performing in Los Angeles
Bieber performing in Los Angeles
Photo: Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images

Wrapping My Head Around the Justin Bieber ‘Purpose’ Pop-Up Shop

Like Kanye West and Drake before him, Justin Bieber has shut down a small corner of NYC. At 11 a.m. on a Wednesday, 300 or so people are in line for the VFiles x Justin Bieber Purpose pop-up shop. Its two-day run at the Soho boutique is scheduled to coincide with the Biebs' concert dates at the Barclays Center, which I guess is why he's allowed to have tour merch that says BROOKLYN.

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Yes, Justin cancelled the meet-and-greets on his tour. But there's still a chance he might show up here, three fans in their 20s insisted. [Editor's note: Minutes after this story went live, evidence surfaced that he did indeed appear.] "Even if he doesn't make it, his health comes first. I totally understand," said one female fan who's planning to go to the Barclays Center tonight without a ticket "just to be there."

We're all in line for the privilege of spending a minimum of $50 on T-shirts and hoodies with Bieber's face on it. These hoodies are a clear take on Vetements, which means they look like the The Life of Pablo merch, which means they look like hoodies — but hoodies that everyone will know are very hip and expensive!

Justin Bieber Purpose Tour Leah Prinzivalli

Two hoodies are exclusive to VFiles and only on sale for the next two days,€” which means we'll see a quick jump from their $120 retail price to a highly questionable black market value. The most coveted item by far will be the $350 denim jacket — of only five made, four were gone to VIPs before the store officially opened. The "Most Ridiculous" superlative goes to the $100 sweatpants. Don't try to sell me a heather gray Champion pant for $100 just because it says PURPOSE down the leg. Who do you think you are, SoulCycle? Most of what's here will be available at the shows and, supposedly, online.

"The yellow hoodie is gross," one Belieber who's never heard of VFiles tells me of the exclusive style. But judging by the outfits here, as you do when in line for a pop-up shop, plenty of others are here for the fashion at least as much as the fandom.

"Justin approached us," a VFiles representative told Racked of how the pop-up came to be. "We thought the pairing [with VFiles] was so natural between his fans and our access to Generation Z."

I stop to talk to a girl and her mom, who are spending a day of their vacation from Holland waiting in line. "She's already spent most of her budget, so there's not much more left for shopping," says Mom. "But today's a special day."

A surprising number of New Yorkers have stopped just to watch the chaos that is Hurricane Bieber unfold. "I might get in line, I might not," said one student. "I just like the excitement."

Justin Bieber Vfiles Pop Up Leah Prinzivall

I only witnessed one true jumping and screaming Belieber, who flipped at the sight of an Uber SUV (the poor thing). She set off a chain reaction of whispers and craning necks €— exactly the "will he or won't he?" vibe you want for your Soho pop-up. Her reaction, while certainly loud, was understandable. I counted at least 14 police officers at the scene, some of whom were busy taking Snapchats. It either looked like there would be a stampede over that one remaining denim jacket, or that someone famous was about to roll through.

Unfortunately, the former is more likely.

The V magazine announcement of this event anticipated any shade we could throw Bieber's way: "Following Kanye's successful (to the alleged tune of a million dollars) Pablo pop-up, Justin Bieber is looking to tap into the cash flow with a store of his own." (Both shops are run by Bravado, a merchandising division of Universal Music that works on artists' "lifestyle brands," according to its reps.) If you want to get really shady, consider last week's pop-up from Drake, which gave out 1,000 Views tees for free. Those came in two colors and were certainly as cute as a $40 hat that says JUSTIN BIEBER on it.

But Justin isn't the only one who's trying to make some quick cash here. The first people in line aren't the 16-year-old girls you might expect — they're resellers who tell me they got here at 7:30 p.m. last night and slept in their car in order to be first in line. Judging by their haul, they clearly flouted the one-item-per-person rule.

I followed the instructions in their Instagram bio and texted out of curiosity to see how high the markup went. They've more than doubled the cost of the VFiles exclusive hoodies, selling the black one for $250 and the yellow for $350 (see, fashion people like it!).

I'm 30% waiting to get arrested for hitting up a reseller. So far, no cops at my door.

The pop-up is open on Wednesday, May 4th and Thursday, May 5th from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily.