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Netflix has Squid Game merch in its own online store now, because of course

Squid Game is an unexpected global hit, and its popularity overlaps Netflix's recent initiative to sell $35 T-shirts and $50 hoodies.

Squid Game, a dark Korean drama series about a survival competition, has been a global breakout hit on Netflix.

Sometime on Monday, Netflix quietly bulked up its nascent online shop with $35 T-shirts and $50 hoodies related to Squid Game, an intersection of the company's fledging e-commerce strategy with its latest unexpected hit. The show, which Netflix contends may become its most popular original series yet, is a breakout Korean drama series about a survival competition. 

It's also just the kind of phenomenon that Netflix designed its store to merchandise. 

Netflix launched its own online store in June, picking up a classic profit strategy that legacy entertainment companies like Disney have perfected. Netflix was no stranger to merchandising before that, having struck deals with giant retailers like Walmart and Target as well as more-targeted companies like Sephora and Fisher-Price, all to make or sell items related to its movies and shows. But this summer, Netflix unveiled its own direct-sales e-commerce venture. Using Shopify, Netflix fashioned an online boutique for limited-edition items with the posturing of drop culture. 

The shop was also designed to be able to respond quickly whenever Netflix struck a vein with a surprise hit

Squid Game is the textbook example of an unexpected hit, maybe more than any other series that Netflix has identified as being wildly popular on its service. The show isn't based on any existing franchise, unlike Netflix's most recent "biggest series ever," Bridgerton (originally a book series), or the one before that, The Witcher (a video game). It's also the first time a Korean language original by Netflix has broken out from its local market to purportedly unprecedented popularity around the world. Other non-English-language Netflix originals have been popular outside their local markets before, such as Money Heist and Lupin. But Squid Game appears to be on a different scale. 

Last week, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said Squid Game was "No. 1 in the world -- like, everywhere in the world." Netflix's data about the popularity of its programs is sometimes criticized for being unverified, unsupported and disclosed without much accountability. But Google search-interest trends lately for Squid Game in English language markets like the US, the UK and Canada are sometimes greater in volume than searches for Netflix itself -- and much higher than the volume of searches for Bridgerton at its peak. 

For now Squid Game's global popularity won't be matched by Netflix directly merchandising it globally: Netflix's online store ships to US addresses only. 

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