Jake Paul's New Merchandise Line Is a Lesson in Artificial Exclusivity and Opportunism
Jake Paul is a colossal annoyance who has managed to monetize disturbing his neighbors, subpar hip-hop production, jump-cut YouTube videos, and allowing his friends to crash in his mansion in exchange for being the subject of "pranks" that millions of YouTube viewers absorb like a sponge. And it's really working for him.
After a weird boxing match—in which he fought fellow YouTube personality Deji Olatunji as an "undercard match" before his brother Logan fought someone else—the younger Paul started talking about his new merchandise line RNBO, which stands for "Rise n' Be Original" kind of.
Paul came out for the match with RNBO-branded headgear and a white jacket. After the match, he started talking about how the new brand is "emblematic of his personal journey over the past several months," according to Tubefilter. That "journey" includes members of his YouTube crew, Team 10, calling him out for being a bully and a lawsuit claiming Paul's manager profited from a video depicting a house Team 10 trashed.
Here's the thing with Jake Paul and the internet in general: The YouTube personality train does not ride on forever. It's like being a professional athlete—you'd better have a plan for when you retire before you're 40. Whether that means pivoting to something else, like comedy or acting in this case, or just wisely investing your money, there needs to be a plan for life after YouTube, because this isn't a sustainable career for life. YouTube seems to understand this, to an extent, as it developed a built-in merchandise store through Teespring for its talent pool to make a buck.
For Paul, that means merchandise. He's not new to the merchandise game, but this rebrand to RNBO seems like a very purposeful move to redefine himself. We wouldn't go as far to say he's "maturing," because one look at him and his merchandise would show that it's a far cry from what many would define as "mature." But it seems like a deliberate step away from the Team 10 aesthetic, which came off as a bunch of wealthy kids who grew up on MTV's "Jackass." It's kind of the YouTube equivalent of a former Disney Channel star putting out an album with adult themes or acting in an R-rated movie.
As Paul goes into his 20s, the Team 10 gear that attracted a young audience, as many YouTubers do, might become stale, which is why he transitioned to the more chic and modern-style RNBO. It's reminiscent of recent design trends in skateboarding—which pretty much dictates and reflects a ton of other style trends—like the "dad hats," minimal logos and neutral color schemes. Think Thrasher, Supreme, and all the things Kanye has been putting out recently.
He's definitely taken a cue from Supreme here, because it looks like the apparel is coming in "drops," aka Paul is manufacturing his own exclusivity to create demand. Everything is already sold out, and the RNBO Instagram page said a second merchandise drop is coming soon.
Like those Supreme drops, RNBO gear is already popping up at way-marked-up prices on eBay. The RNBO Hoodie, which sold for $40, is being listed as high as $300. The T-shirt is listed as high as $150. A combination of the T-shirt, hat and sweatshirt is up for $200.
Jake Paul is a vulgar, immature, marginally talented bro who has millions of followers on YouTube and has obviously paid attention to the marketing successes of big-name brands in e-commerce and apparel. He's going to be fine, and he's going to be here for a while, whether we see the appeal in his videos or not. Others do and will spend the money on it.
You can call him a lot of things, but you can't deny that the dude is opportunistic, for better or worse.
Now, after our rant, we'd like you all to get off my lawn.