For the Billy Joel fans who missed out on tickets for his 100th Madison Square Garden concert last month, Barking Irons has teamed with the musician to create limited-edition T-shirts and a jean jacket.
Barking Irons founder Daniel Casarella has worked with Joel and other musicians. After launching the company in 2003 at Barneys New York, the company shifted its focus to the music industry in 2008. At that time, “the idea of concert merch coming from a fashion label was sort of a novel thing for bands that were looking at a changing landscape. This was when the record industry was still figuring out what the hell was going on. They weren’t making as much from albums any more,” he said.
Despite “the revolution in concert merchandise,” especially T-shirts, spurred on by Justin Bieber, Kanye West and Beyoncé, Casarella said Joel needed a little persuading. “We sort of twisted Billy’s arm to a certain degree because he’s a heritage artist. It wasn’t always apparent that he needed to have a $120 T-shirt or a $225 jacket. We sort of convinced him to do this,” he said.
Agreeing a meaningful event would be the impetus, they decided on his 100th show at Madison Square Garden. As a New York artist, the aim was to resonate with his hometown fan base and celebrate his 40-year career. The limited-edition “super soft denim” jacket is only being sold at Joel’s official web site, but a similar version in an acid wash is being sold through Nordstrom. The exclusive version that is offered on Joel’s site was made in 200 units.
Casarella and his brother and coworker Michael were at MSG for Joel’s centennial show. They often attend shows to get a better read on what customers respond to and how they shop. “Michael and I were floating all over from the stock room to various merch booths that are scattered around Madison Square Garden. And we were backstage with management. It’s not a fun night going to a show. It’s a work night,” Daniel Casarella said. “We’ve been to shows all around the country, not just for Billy Joel. Just seeing how the customer reacts to an item that is priced, looks and feels leagues above everything they have ever encountered at a show, that’s validation.”
There was similar reaction when the brothers went on tour with Prophets of Rage. The fact that Tom Morello wore a Barking Irons-made hat on stage helped “to create a fever” in the same way that a social media influencer rallies followers to buy their favorite looks, Casarella said. As for the Billy Joel merchandise, that is close to selling out, he added.
Going forward, Barking Irons will work with Cypress Hill, whose B-Real was part of the Prophets of Rage rap rock supergroup. “One of the things we’re focusing on now is the premium merch. Let’s do the special stuff and they need us to do the ABCs, we can do that, too,” Casarella said.