Say Hello to Fashion Vapes, the Latest Trend That Can Totally Get You High
Earlier this month, luxury retailer and hipster hotspot Opening Ceremony announced that it will start carrying Pax vaporizers, a luxurious alternative to that swirly bong your brother kept under his bed that looks like it could be sold at the Apple store.
More people than you'd think.
Weed meets a stylish audience: "Back almost 6 months ago, we announced that we had sold over 500,000 pieces," Richard Mumby, chief marketing officer for Pax, told Mic.
Pax was founded in 2012 and currently sells two products, the Pax and the Pax 2. Both are open-system devices, meaning they can be used for nicotine and the "alternative," with the difference lying in the products' quality. The Pax will costs you $199. The Pax 2, which boasts a larger storage capacity, longer battery life and lighter weight, goes for $279.
Those are fashion elite prices, which is why it's no shock that Pax hooked up with a high-end designer this year. In July, Pax hosted a pre-Men's Fashion Week bash with designer Richard Chai, which drew top model Gigi Hadid and her boyfriend, Joe Jonas. On display during the party were the latest series of Pax vapes customized for many of the high-ranking elite in attendance.
"What we've seen through our initial work in the fashion industry is that we provide a premium platform for luxury brands to tap into," Mumby said.
And it's a world the luxury industry has fewer and fewer qualms about tapping into.
The more accepted marijuana becomes, the more weed can come out of the so-called closet. Hence weed weddings, in which nuptial guests celebrate freely with cannabis, or weed "elixir" that's dosed and packaged much like beer.
That mainstreaming also includes the world of fashion and clothing, where marijuana was formerly resigned to Bob Marley T-shirts and the beanies for stoned undergrads. Now, more products can be manufactured with the pot-smoking population in mind with less fear of stigma.
"There's now an opportunity for people to not hide their pot-smoking anymore," Katie Shapiro, the world's first marijuana style writer, told Mic. "You can make a statement with a giant pot leaf T-shirt, talk freely about marijuana as part of your lifestyle, and smoke in social situations, and for the most part, be okay. Depending on what state you're in, of course."
Shapiro, who writes for the Denver Post's The Cannabist, noted that while people have been smoking marijuana "since the beginning of time," the stigma has slowly been loosening as endorsements from designers like Jeremy Scott and celebrities like Rihanna help the fashion world climb aboard.
"At the end of the day, weed is what's trendy now, so that's why its collision with fashion is happening now," she said.
The vape becomes an accessory: Despite the giggles about the vape's lack of "cool factor," it's the perfect product for fashion to focus on. There is a credible reason that vaping is getting this sort of publicity: It's relatively good for you. According to Time, vaping is 95% healthier and 40% cheaper than smoking.
But more than that, it's an ideal accessory. It's small, compact and can be held in your hand just like a phone or a cup of coffee. Just ask comedian Sarah Silverman, who pulled a vape filled with "liquid pot" out of her clutch on the red carpet at the 2014 Emmy Awards like it was no big deal.
With the stigma against pot smoking loosening its grip on the fashion industry, vaporizers have the option of being more public, and a much less discreet, accessory.
Enter the Crystal Cult, a very different type of vape company.
In June 2012, Crystal Cult founder Olivia Alexander posted a picture on her Instagram of a blinged-out vaporizer she made herself. It caused such a stir that, in just seven days, she decided to build a website and start the business that's still operating and thriving today.
"That's... the thing about sparkles: They're universal," Alexander told Mic.
In comparison to Pax, Crystal Cult vapes are not discreet, nor are they streamlined. They're a whole different style, for a different kind of customer — which, in itself, is telling about the progress mainstream weed has made.
"The first thing that happened is that I realized that these are devices like your sunglasses and phone case that you interact with all the time," Alexander said. "Just like anything like that, it becomes a part of who you are."
Alexander's designs, which run from $40 to $360, cater to the newly formed female audience, which has only grown since the boom of legalization in some states. At the same time, the designs are also a dig at the "toxic masculinity" that often comes with vape culture.
"When we started, it was such a male industry. The vapes were so ugly," she said. "It's an item that's in your hand and to have it in your hand in a godawful black color, it was like we have to reclaim this."
Rebranding the stoner: Selling sparkly vapes to women is progress that can only come with an overthrow of stereotypes. Years ago, the typical "stoner" was Seth Rogen, ripping a bong on his couch. Before that, it was Cheech and Chong, causing mayhem wherever they stumbled.
According to Alexander, her customers are "the girl next door who loves to laugh. She's the girl in New York City who's a career woman," she continued. "We have moms who want to quit smoking and then we have older women who are trying to discreetly smoke pot."
Mumby agreed that Pax customers can't be pigeonholed into one "stoner" identity.
"It's someone who cares a lot about the design," he said. "It's soldiers working through post-traumatic stress syndrome or people who are home and have other ailments that they use our product for to help ingest these natural products safely."
That also includes someone who cares about fashion and style. According to Shapiro, there are plenty of collaborations that speak to this sort of rapid rebranding from "loser stoner" to "cool fashionista."
"For instance, I've got this tank top from Pam and Gela, the new label from the designers who started Juicy Couture, that's got a pot leaf on it and the words 'Take the High Road,'" she said. "Then, you've got Clashist, which has embraced this culture. Then, you've got high-end jewelers jumping at the chance to have gold pot leaf rings and necklaces."
"My dream is that one day weed will be just as normalized as alcohol," Shapiro said. "I want to shop for something related to my pot-smoking life at the same time I'm shopping for clothes because, it's like, why shouldn't your smoking accessory have the potential to be as stylish as the amazing leather jacket you find?"
October 1, 12:05 p.m.: This article has been updated.