The Secret Behind Kanye West's Pablo Pop-Ups Is Bravado CEO Mat Vlasic
Bravado’s where the magic happens.
Kanye West’s 21 global Pablo pop-up shops touched down the past weekend spreading more merch madness than ever. But the worldwide phenomenon was no small endeavor and to go behind the production is to know Bravado.
Bravado is the Universal Music Group subsidiary that produced the merch and merch-related events – and counts West among other artists including Florence and the Machine to Lionel Richie. CEO Mat Vlasic told Vogue that Kanye is pioneering a movement:
“Why it works really well for him is that he believes in streetwear lifestyle culture—and I hate that word lifestyle, but I don’t how else to describe it. He’s at the forefront of that, from his sneaker drops to the pop-up—or the temporary stores—he’s the leader.”
How did the partnership with Kanye West come about?
Bravado and Kanye have been working together for a long time, I think since the Glow in the Dark tour. I’ve only come aboard and took over Bravado in March, but instantly kind of kicked it off with Kanye and his team and saw a lot of opportunities and put a lot of focus on trying to take what had already been done and make it better, magnify it, make it Kanye-worthy.
From your perspective, what makes Kanye a good partner for projects like this?
He’s at the perfect intersection of music, fashion, style, creativity—he’s a leader in all those spaces. He pays incredible attention—this is not to say other artists don’t, but specifically talking about him, he pays such incredible attention and because of that, cares so much about it, is so invested in it—and not just financially—that he’s the perfect partner because you know how seriously he and his team will take all of this. That presents challenges, too, because things come down to the wire and there’s a perfection in the product. It can present some logistical challenges, but ultimately with how invested he and his team are in it, they’re a great partner. Why it works really well for him is that he believes in streetwear lifestyle culture—and I hate that word lifestyle, but I don’t how else to describe it. He’s at the forefront of that, from his sneaker drops to the pop-up—or the temporary stores—he’s the leader.
In the past the pop-ups have only occurred in one city at a time. What was it like to produce the products and the event at this magnitude?
It was intense. Luckily, we have representation within our company in 40 territories around the world. To communicate that message across so many of them is challenging, and if you look at the pictures, they all look like how they’re supposed to look, barring different spaces. There were tons of logistical challenges that were presented, but the way that we are is that we pride ourselves on being a nimble and both proactive and reactive company that can shift and pivot as needed, that can figure out and problem-solve in 24 to 48 hours. It was definitely an intense operation to try to launch 21 at the same time, but we did it, I think to tremendous success.