The Weeknd Fans Flock to Toronto to Collect Merch, Meet 'Starboy' Himself
Fans lined the sidewalk of Ossington Avenue in Toronto to get first crack at The Weeknd’s limited-edition Starboy collection at his hometown pop-up shop, which is open all weekend. It was also the only city where the Grammy Award-winning R&B singer did an autograph signing at the store. His fourth full-length album, Starboy, was released Friday (Nov. 25).
Andy Mendoza, 19, took a 14-hour bus ride from Queens, New York, and was first in line. “I am really exhausted. I have no words to describe what I’ve been through the last 48 hours,” he told Billboard. “I left [New York] two days ago. He’s one of my favorite artists of all time, and this is his merchandise collection. I don’t think it will ever happen again.”
The first 250 people received a wristband Thursday for the autograph session later that day, which came with a piece of free Starboy merch -- Mendoza chose a cap with a cross and two lightning bolts -- and the first 400 people received a wristband for front-of-line access to the pop-up shop Friday morning.
“We picked up merch first,” said Veronika Czyzo, 20, from Toronto, of the autograph signing, “and then security pushed us into the other room, had about 10 seconds. He [The Weeknd] said, ‘Hello, how are you?’ and he was signing photos, but if you were lucky, he signed something else for you. I got him to sign my phone case.”
Mendoza and Czyzo both planned to buy the denim jacket at the pop-up. Mendoza said he was hoping it wouldn’t cost more than $400 CAD (about $295 USD). No one seemed to care how much the items would cost. Some flashed stacks of Canadian cash from $400 to $1,000 -- although credit is accepted.
Many shoppers who spoke to Billboard said prices were lower than what they were expecting. Designed by the XO team and manufactured by Bravado Canada, the highest-ticketed item was the Starboy denim jacket at $340 CAD, followed by the panther bomber jacket for $260, anarchy coach jacket for $150, and hoodies for $115. Short-sleeve tees were all $45; long-sleeve tees and ball caps were $55.
There was tons of bonding and friendships formed in line over love and appreciation for The Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye.
For Toronto’s Ayyouib Ayyouib, 22, who was in the line for people without wristbands, it was all about impressing others. Not just his friends, but “the whole world,” he said. “I’m serious. Exclusivity is hard to come by. When I walk around my university, I feel great. I walk around with the utmost confidence that nobody got what I got.”
There was no limit on the number of items one could purchase, and some people in line said they expected some entrepreneurial types to buy up a stack and go to the back of the line to sell it at inflated prices.
There have been Starboy pop-ups globally, including New York, London and Los Angeles, and this weekend’s second wave in Toronto, Melbourne, Berlin and Tokyo.
The Weeknd will headline the inaugural iHeartRadio Canada Jingle Ball Friday night at the Air Canada Centre. Thursday, the singer held court in a giant warehouse space for an exclusive Starboy listening party for about a thousand people, during which he talked about the tracks before playing them.