What are you wearing to your office holiday party? You could go out and buy a trendy conversation piece, or opt for a classic little black dress. Alternatively, you could wear a huge sack of wool that covers up your curves in holiday cheer. After all, nothing says “I’m not romantically interested in any of you” quite like an ugly holiday sweater. Enough with all the PC BS—we’re talking about Christmas sweaters (thanks, Trump!).
With all the scratchiness of a monastic hair shirt, and all the emotional baggage of The Cosby Show, the ugly Christmas sweater is in dire need of rebranding. Luckily, enterprising celebrities are here to reinvent the nondenominational holiday sweater for Americans of every color and creed. ’Tis the season for targeted merchandise!
As unglamorous as this humble fashion faux pas may initially appear, the holiday sweater is actually a pretty smart sell. In these polarizing times, the holiday sweater has the potential to unite consumers from all walks of life by perfectly straddling the line between holiday utility and everyday irony. Everyone can rock an ugly Christmas sweater, from Midwestern grandparents to college-aged hipsters in normcore nativity knits. With this growing millennial market, it’s no wonder that rappers make up the largest contingent of celebrities creating Christmas apparel. In fact, it seems that the Christmas sweater is replacing the Christmas album as the easiest way for famous people to make a shitload of money during December and January. Now, celebrities can expend even less energy and make even more cash. It’s a Christmas miracle!
With so many celebrity holiday sweater options, and only a finite amount of money to spend on celebrity holiday sweaters, consumers have to differentiate the incredible from the merely cozy. We’ve narrowed the offerings down to a few select sweaters, each as unique as the celebrity schilling them. Between Beyoncé’s sassy sweatshirt, Nas’s political-statement piece, and Whoopi Goldberg’s luxury knitwear line, you’re sure to find something for everyone on your gift list—even the atheists!
If you’re like 43 percent of Americans, you’ve experimented with marijuana. You might even be high right now. But you have never been as high as Whoopi Goldberg. When she’s not lighting up our television sets, Whoopi is cultivating a particularly eccentric empire. First there was Whoopi & Maya, her line of marijuana-infused products, marketed as a means of lessening PMS-related pains. Ladies, Whoopi is living her best life, and she thinks that you should too—by filling your tub with weed bath salts and going to a magical place where Raven-Symoné was never on The View. Having blessed uterus-havers with her entrepreneurial spirit, Goldberg has moved on to a more universal product: the holiday sweater.
Whoopi’s line of Lord & Taylor sweaters is as luxe as this list gets at $139 a pop. They are also must-have items—ugly, kind of scary, and utterly amazing. If Whoopi hadn’t emerged from a particularly relaxing bath with these odd designs stuck in her head, we may have never encountered the image of six roughly drawn reindeer Rockettes dancing in form-fitting frocks and high heels, let alone had the opportunity to wear these woolen reindeer on our torsos. Then there’s Whoopi’s one-of-a-kind Hanukkah sweater, bearing an Octopus menorah in a yarmulke. For the guys, there are seven racially diverse, decadently creepy designs. The talking gingerbread men’s turtleneck will haunt your dreams.
Beyoncé may have eliminated her own cold and heat sensors about five updates ago, but that doesn’t mean she can’t commiserate with her mortal fans. Cue Bey’s new cozy apparel offerings—trademarked clothing for all of the successful queens in your life (trust me, these prices are SCRUB-resistant). Of course, Beyoncé isn’t the only one who’s tried to sell lemon emoji merchandise—but why would you ever tempt fate by buying some off-brand Lemonade swag? Next thing you know, you’ll be waking up in a trunk next to Rachel Roy.
Beyoncé’s line transitions seamlessly from daytime “stalking your man” sweats to nighttime “confronting your man with a baseball bat” bodysuits. But the jewel in Beyoncé’s apparel crown—the reason why we’re all here—is the Christmas sweatshirt. In traditional red and green, these sweatshirts are emblazoned with the slogan “I Sleigh All Day” on the back AND the front (‘cause you know they’ll be watching you walk away). It might not technically be a “sweater,” but this isn’t the first time Beyoncé has changed the game. Plus, every sweatshirt comes with a tiny vial of Rita Ora’s tears slipped into the front pocket.
Musicians On Call is a very cool-sounding organization that brings live music to hospital patients’ bedsides. This year, they partnered with a number of bands and musicians to sell holiday sweaters for their cause. For reasons that are beyond our comprehension, they solicited a design from the Joe Jonas-helmed band, DNCE. For those of you who haven’t heard of them, DNCE looks like a Pinterest board for “hipster band” gone horribly wrong. To make a hit in 2016, all Joe Jonas and his meticulously cast bandmates had to do was be better than The Chainsmokers. Instead, they made this sweater, which features each of the band members naked, with gender-specific props hiding their genitalia. If you’ve ever wanted to know how big Joe Jonas thinks his dick is, look no further than this sweater. On sale at $15, you could probably do worse.
Run the Jewels
This year, consider buying some Christmas joy courtesy of a man named Killer Mike. Run the Jewels, a hip-hop supergroup consisting of Killer Mike and rapper-producer El-P, is not sleeping on this business opportunity. The critically acclaimed duo may have started as a musical collaboration, but they’ve made a name for themselves in the burgeoning industry of celebrity Christmas sweaters. This is the second consecutive year of Run the Jewels Christmas sweaters, and this year, they’ve widened their repertoire of wardrobe options to include sweatshirts and T-shirts. Their design is straightforward: their faces, accompanied by the tagline “Run the Yules.” At $55 ($60 for a hoodie), these offerings are festive, family friendly, and pretty much affordable!
I know what you’re thinking—none of these holiday sweaters will make my racist grandmother/co-worker/ex-friend sufficiently uncomfortable. Nas has your back with a sweater as radical and anti-racist as it is cozy. This holiday season, the rapper is launching the “Kneeling Santa” crewneck sweater, an homage to quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s Black Lives Matter protest. Available in red, black, and green, proceeds from the defiant design will go to a nonprofit called Center for Court Innovation, which “seeks to help create a more effective and humane justice system.” In a statement, Nas cited his inspiration, explaining, “Colin Kaepernick recently took this powerful stance, and like him, we love America—but also cannot ignore the injustices we have been seeing and how important our fight is against them.”
Atlanta’s own 2 Chainz is about as close as you can get to a titan of industry in the world of celebrity Christmas sweaters. Back for its second year, his line of “Dabbin’ Santa” sweaters earned him an estimated $2 million in 2015. 2 Chainz is planning to once again donate a portion of his profits to his Atlanta-based T.R.U. foundation. Last year, “Dabbin’ Santa” money helped pay for a year’s rent and new furniture for a single mother in Georgia, and also bought a minivan for an Atlanta family in need. In 2016, the collection has expanded to stay hip and relevant—now, Santa is wearing Yeezys. According to 2 Chainz, “The new collection will act as our vehicle to bringing real assistance to people and families that are looking for a little boost this holiday season. Join our movement. Let’s aspire to inspire and bring cheer this holiday season.”
These 2016 offerings join the glorious pantheon of celebrity holiday sweaters past. Who could forget the “Hotline Bling” Drake sweaters—so perfect for a college dorm party, it hurts—or Gucci Mane’s “East Atlanta Santa” holiday collection? Fetty Wap, Wu-Tang Clan, and Kim and Kanye also get honorable Christmas merch mentions. But this growing list of celebrity entrepreneurs is missing one crucial holiday queen. Mariah, we know the only thing you love more than Christmas is exploring new revenue streams. It’s about time Mimi got herself in this holiday sweater game!