Stoner merchandise is about to hit the cannabis market, particularly as lawmakers recently blocked attempts to ban cannabis advertising. According to recent commentary by Fast Co., “The marijuana industry never had room for professional design while stuck in the criminal sector.” For this reason, weed merchandise remained largely limited to stereotypical Rastafarian wares and cheesy t-shirts.
However, now that legalization is spreading to various states throughout the United States, a brand new lifestyle movement is springing up around it, despite marijuana still being an illegal Schedule 1 drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Brands are not only monopolizing on gourmet edibles and expensive candles anymore: They are marking the fashion industry with marijuana too.
Think about high fashion publications and seasonal runways alike. Earlier this year, System Magazine, a classy fashion editorial, used a 60,000-square-foot indoor cannabis facility on Canada’s coastline as a backdrop for a Juergen Teller-lensed print. Fashion designers are joining the cause too, and you can now see signs of this on the runway.
For the Fall/Winter runway season of 2016, New York-based designer Alexander Wang dressed models in graphically printed tops, grungy mini-skirt suits, faux fur coats, and laser-cut dresses. Weed leaf motifs decorated several of his accessories and garments. However, Wang went even further: He used joint-rolling models in his corresponding advertising campaign.
During that same season, Baja East, also a New York-based brand, affixed some of its garments with cannabis leaf-shaped pins. Some of the models wore a single marijuana leaf earring. One of the most influential brands in the industry in recent seasons, Vetements, included a weed-grinding necklace in its 2016 Fall/Winter collection.
It does not end there, either. Edie Parker, popular bag maker known for its personalized acrylic box bags, boldly printed the word “Weed” on some newly released versions of its traditional bag. Others had the word “Herb” printed on them. The idea came after Edie Parker designed an exclusive collection in 2013 for e-commerce site Moda Operandi, which included Roman numerals for “420,” a code referring to pot consumption.
Long before that, Vivienne Westwood sent a dress emblazoned with marijuana leaves down the runway during her 2010 Spring/Summer show, and Jeremy Scott designed a weed print motif for his collaborated Adidas collection. Creatures of the Wind joined the fray just this season, showing a boldly embroidered cannabis leaf jacket.
The weed-motif jacket continued the theme of its Pre-Fall collection, which included pot designs on more practical clothing, such as t-shirts. The move is certainly one to attract younger consumers to this sophisticated brand. Sources close to Creatures of the Wind say it is attempting to widen its target market of mostly 45-year olds to include younger shoppers.
Social media gave plenty of attention to Creatures of the Wind’s weed-themed jacket, which quickly went viral. Christian Cowan’s weed-leaf cropped tank also attracted a media frenzy, which is part of the designer’s Spring/Summer 2018 lineup. Although designers are proving quick to take advantage of this budding trend, retailers are acting cautiously.
Big brands, such as Farfetch, Nordstrom, Barneys New York, and Saks Fifth Avenue chose to stock Wang’s marijuana-adorned accessories and apparel. However, they refused to discuss it. When asked to comment about their marijuana-themed apparel, representatives for these outlets declined the offer. As for the Pre-Fall offerings of Creatures of the Wind, some chose to stock and others did not.
Larger chains, such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, chose not to stock weed-inspired garments from Creatures of the Wind’s collection. Smaller retailers put them on display. According to the opining of WWD, this likely has to do “with specialty stores being able to express a more personal point of view and buy pieces with an exact customer in mind.”
Considering all the sightings of cannabis leaves on runways this season, and the bigger movement of design-minded companies disrupting the pot accessories market, such as Tetra, a website “dedicated to elevating the aesthetics of the smoking experience” and Pax, maker of popular iPhone-like vaporizers, it seems this trend is not going anywhere anytime soon. Where it is going, exactly, remains unclear.
Even the suggestion that cannabis may be going high end is not much of an exaggeration. Director of the Beverly Hills Cannabis Club and high-end purveyor of luxury marijuana and accessories, Cheryl Shuman, bases her business model on that idea, and she is not alone. In fact, as noted just last week, she “is part of a growing circle of entrepreneurs capitalizing on what she calls the ‘pot.com boom.’”
According to Madison Margolin of Motherboard, “With marijuana sales in the United States expected to top $10 billion by 2018, there is a lot of money to not only be made in the legal bud industry, but also to be spent.” This is exactly where fashion houses come in. With legalization increasing at a rapid pace and society becoming significantly more accepting of it, it is only logical for fashion designers to capitalize it.
It makes sense that innovative, forward-thinking designers would want to tap into marijuana’s merchandise market. It is no secret that consumers obsess themselves with merchandise, particularly if it brandishes their favorite hobby – using marijuana – and allows them to show it off proudly to the world.
As Pilar Johnson, Etsy artisan, explains, “It is all about trying to make something more modern and chic that reflects who the cannabis user of today is.” Those users include high-end fashion consumers, which is exactly why legalization is an opportunity that fashion houses do not want to, or cannot afford to miss. Marijuana legalization is likely to transform weed into many high-end products very soon.