It's 8:30 a.m. on Friday morning. I am rushing desperately around the Westfield Topanga mall until I find it: Like a shining beacon of hope, a neon-pink sign reading "Kylie" glows in the distance. Thousands of people are already waiting for a chance to see their Queen in the flesh, and hopefully to buy everything she's selling — from cosmetics to apparel to a Terry Richardson-lensed 2017 wall calendar. Three separate roped-off areas snaked crowds of eager fans through the mall, passing Jimmy Choo, Cartier and Gucci until it reached their mecca: the Kylie Jenner pop-up shop.
Whether or not you "like" the Kardashian/Jenner family and their many fashion and beauty ventures, you cannot deny that they are brilliant businesspeople — and 19-year-old Kylie Jenner is no exception. With a whopping 80.8 million followers on Instagram alone and an estimated net worth of nearly $12 million, the youngest Jenner has found her niche, namely through plumped lips, selfies and plenty of highly coveted merchandise.
Jenner's namesake pop-up is set to run from Dec. 9 to Dec. 24, but will only be in operation "while supplies last." The store itself looks like a life-sized version of her Lip Kit, dripping in black along the facade, with neon signs on the interior wall, shining light on the brand-new clothing she's selling. But that's all I could see, because I never got a chance to go in. I am both literally and figuratively an outsider, looking in, beholden to a universe and kingdom in which I do not participate. For King Kylie's many loyal fans, this level of dedication is their every day. The pop-up is just the pinnacle; a chance to experience all things Kylie firsthand, and maybe, just maybe, get to meet her.
By 9 a.m., an hour and 10 minutes before the shop actually opened, the lines were at capacity. And let me say: it was chaos. Fans were eagerly awaiting the opening of their new empire, flooding around California Pizza Kitchen and the surrounding level upstairs just to get a better view. There was yelling, there was screaming; there was even an incredibly dedicated girl wearing a cardboard Lip Kit costume. You could feel the energy of the space buzzing with anticipation; it was electric. These shoppers were serious. Friends Mikalya and Brandi drove three hours just to get to the pop-up, and were turned away when the lines were maxed out. "We came here just to see... I wanted her clothing merchandise. I already have her makeup, so I wasn't too worried about that," Mikalya said. "I thought it would be crazy; I just thought that they would know [how many people] to expect. I've talked to three different security guards and they've all told me different things."
I, for one, got yelled at by one security guard for trying to cross the mall, and had to sneak around another when I attempted to go to the bathroom and overheard that there was no re-entry for people who did so. This business is serious, and with good reason. The mere mention of the name "Kylie" sent the crowd into a mad frenzy, God forbid actually seeing her in person. Although Kylie was there around 8:30 a.m., she left before the store opened because, as one shopper, Kyle pointed out, "Everyone who's her fan knows she has really bad anxiety." While we mortals waited for her store to open, she was likely comfy at her home in nearby Calabasas.
Although some fans were only there for photo ops and to see the madness firsthand, many more were determined to go home with some of Jenner's makeup and clothing. For a fan named Louise, the experience promised social media-worthy posts and a sweatshirt she planned to style with her fall boots. All of the fans at the event seemed to have that same attitude about them; the pop-up attracted mostly young women and teenage girls, although there were some men there, who all seemed to worship Kylie. There was contour, there was athleisure, there was leather and there were plenty of plumped-up lips in the crowd.
Kylie super-fans arrived as early as 1 a.m. the night before, and by 6 a.m. the line was so crazy that security started kicking people out. Kyle was one of those fans, but thankfully for the California native, he regained his spot in line as one of the first 10 people in the store. "It's very exciting in there and very clean, surprisingly; but everything was still fully stocked," he said. "I'm a huge Kylie fan. I can't wait to take pictures — hopefully she re-posts them and stuff." Other fans Leanna and Savannah weren't as lucky. Even though they were the first people in line, they didn't get their spots back, but were still excited about the possibility of getting Kylie merch — specifically her holiday makeup collection.
The makeup, which retails online from $15 for a lip gloss to $290 for a Holiday box, was selling for the same in-store, although the shop did sell an exclusive Lip Kit. Jenner's new clothing was released at the pop-up as well, and for $200 you could get your very own Kylie-approved bomber. You could score a calendar for $22, socks for $15 and hoodies for $70. The shop featured a giant bed, Tyga in the DJ booth and plenty of on-brand accents — it's said that the pop-up is inspired by Jenner's own bedroom.
For those who found their way to the Woodland Hills Mall, today was a rare opportunity to be part of the Kardashian/ Jenner universe. And even though the lines were moving slowly (they were only letting about 10 or 20 people into the store at once, and a laundry list of shopping rules was posted around the premises), the wait seemed to be worth it.
Although I was also on the prowl to see if anyone was planning to resell Kylie merchandise — a common practice at her brother-in-law Kanye West's many pop-ups — I came up short. Perhaps those who wanted to resell Kylie's merchandise weren't dedicated enough to stand in line for hours on end (you could buy most of this online the following day, after all). But if there's something I learned during my visit, it's this: When Kylie comes calling, you answer. (And you make sure to get to the mall really early, pack plenty of snacks and hone your patience. You're in for a hell of a wait.)