It's 1996 again, Aaliyah's "One In A Million" has made it to streaming sites, and new vintage-feeling merchandise has arrived.
When Aaliyah's tragic, untimely passing came in 2001, a mere five years after her debut album, the world stopped. A fully-fledged star, she had reached Hollywood, became a style icon of the era, and shifted the needle on the American soundscape. Her achievements were no small feat, especially given the short timeframe in which they were achieved, so it's no surprise that fans have been eagerly awaiting an opportunity to experience her star power again.
When it was announced her debut album, One In A Million, and several other works including 2001's Aaliyah, would receive a staggered rollout onto streaming platforms, that opportunity arose. For a generation that was too young to live and grow with her music, the announcement marked a nostalgic transition of sorts, a way to relive the '90s beyond emulating the star's style.
In celebration of the album's 25th anniversary, and the 20th anniversary of Aaliyah's passing just after the turn of the century, Background Records 2.0 has commemorated both occasions with a limited-edition capsule collection of OIAM merchandise. The collection of vintage enzyme-washed tees, jerseys, and sweats have a distinctly '90s aesthetic, designed to appear as if they're straight off of a concert's merchandise stall.
Discussing the inspirations behind the creation of the merch line, Emon Mulligan, SVP of Product and eCommerce at EMPIRE said, "We wanted to capture the feeling of an era – the One in a Million era. We pulled images, fonts, and color palettes from the album cover and packaging to achieve that. Coincidentally, the style of this era is in Vogue right now, so the cyclical nature of trends played in our favor. Her personal style was used as the major inspiration, as well as other garments and design trends from that era."
As we've previously discussed, artist merch is a big draw, especially for stars including Kanye West. Whether it is coveted or critiqued (we're looking at you, Drake), apparel has the ability to bring fans even closer to the artist. Emon recognizes this, going on to say, "Artist merchandise, in a lot of ways, is very personal for fans, it's one thing to casually stream a song from a playlist, but to get your credit card out and purchase something you'll be wearing for the world to see – that's a special relationship. So, we hope that existing fans will be reminded of Aaliyah's light, and for new fans, we hope this keeps that light shining for another two decades and beyond."
There is no denying that Aaliyah's music has transcended generations and as new merchandise collections release alongside the rerelease rollout of her music, it looks like her light will continue to shine.