Rock stars have been selling swag almost since the days of American Bandstand, but few have ventured as far into the home furnishings space as has Prince—or at least, the artist’s estate. On his official website, the legendary musician, who died in 2016, is featured on a wide range of merchandise offerings, from the usual—CDs, T-shirts, hats and musical instruments—to more unexpected products like bedding and barware.
According to Minnesota radio station Kool 101.7 (which announced the news of the sale with the headline “Sleep with Prince”), the merchandise was introduced earlier this year. It is only available on the artist’s website and not through third-party sellers.
With Bob Dylan selling whiskey, the Rolling Stones opening a physical store in London and launching an entire website of offerings under the RS No. 9 Carnaby brand, and both Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg lending their names to lines of legal marijuana, this trend is not unusual.
But the extent of the Prince home textiles line certainly is. Two microfiber sheet set offerings are the stars—one in a print and the other a solid in, of course, purple. Prices range from $77 to $112, depending on the size. There’s a coordinating duvet cover, also polyester, retailing from $60 to $90. The collection includes an assortment of eight decorative pillows, $19 to $50, featuring Prince-appropriate graphics, and eight different fleece blankets, described as “made to order,” which one can assume means they are digitally printed. They run from $58 to $79.
Celebrities lending their names to the home business has been going on for decades, since stars-of-the-day like Mary Martin, Elvis, Ernest Hemingway and even Joe Namath released home products lines under their names. Very few of these endured for more than a few seasons, however, as consumers quickly realized the names meant far less than the designs. The real mainstays of home have come out of the fashion apparel sector, where brands like Ralph Lauren, Laura Ashley and Calvin Klein have lasted for decades and proven to be legacy labels for suppliers and retailers alike.
While it’s unknown how sales are going so far, customers leaving user comments on the Prince website seem to be happy with their purchases. “These are great!” wrote one. “I was hoping that they were purple on both sides, but they are just right. Not too heavy, not too light! Love the color and paisley print, also! Thank you for offering these to us!”
And while some buyers wished for cotton rather than polyester (and several didn’t understand that duvets are just covers and do not include the insert), at least one wanted more Princely purchases: “The Purple Rain duvet is pure joy to have on my bed, and I couldn’t be happier for purchasing it immediately,” wrote a customer. “It’s soft, light and just like him, it is the most beautiful.”
Homepage photo: Prince’s Minnesota home, Paisley Park, which is now open as a museum and event venue. | Paisley Park/NPG Records
Warren Shoulberg is the former editor in chief for several leading B2B publications. He has been a guest lecturer at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business; received honors from the International Furnishings and Design Association and the Fashion Institute of Technology; and been cited by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and other media as a leading industry expert. His Retail Watch columns offer deep industry insights on major markets and product categories.