Promotional, branded apparel has seen a resurgence in pop-culture — with particular influence from the music industry — in recent years. Not only is it a great marketing tool to generate awareness and revenue for the talent, it’s an easy way for fans to feel connected to their favorite artists. While band (or artist) merchandise (merch) fell off a bit, during the early-to-mid 2000s, the trend has seen continual growth rate since 2016.
According to the 2019 Global Licensing Survey, global retail sales of music merch was worth nearly $3.5 billion in 2018, up from $3.33 billion in 2017 and $3.08 billion in 2016. In short, increased consumption of streaming services has propelled some of the largest labels in the industry to find alternative ways of generating revenue for artists. The easiest way to do that: selling apparel.
Now that band merch has been elevated to include more fashion-forward styles, fans can’t get enough of it. Couple that with how easy it is now to get your hands on these items through e-commerce, and you have a boom in sales — as evidenced by Brockhampton’s often completely sold out merch platform.
Fans don’t even have to physically go to a concert to buy tour merch anymore. Many A-list musicians are collaborating with mainstream retailers to offer band merch that ties the artist’s album together with fashionable apparel collections. Arianna Grande’s Sweetener H&M collaboration is a great example of that.
So, what exactly are some of the most popular band merch apparel trends today? We scoured some of your favorite artists’ merch platforms and collaborations; here’s what we found:
Top Four Band Merch Apparel Trends
1. The Classics
According to merch company, Sandbag — who’s worked with rock legends like Radiohead and Arcade Fire — classics still reign supreme. That includes the dad hat. You know something is popular if it’s in Chance the Rapper’s online store, sporting his popular “3” logo.
2. New Age Twists
While the classic band t-shirt is a must, fans today are also looking for stylish ways to switch it up. Here are three of our favorite trending variants on the classic band tee:
- Crop Tops – Taylor Swift’s website currently features both a cropped tee and cropped sweatshirt, promoting her new Lover album, showing cropped styles are definitely in.
- Oversized Apparel – Ariana Grande’s recent H&M collaboration, which we mentioned earlier, features both oversized t-shirts and hoodies emblazoned with lyrics, song titles, and her Sweetener album cover.
- Baseball Tees – Nostalgia sells. The National’s baseball tee, featuring art for their hit song “Rylan” knocks the vintage band shirt trend out of the park.
3. Streetwear-Ready Sets
The streetwear community is heavily influenced by the style of rap and hip-hop stars, and in turn artist merch trends have been inspired by streetwear. Drake’s October’s Very Own brand features pique and double knit sweatshirt and sweatpants that can be paired for “Insta-worthy” matching or mismatching sets.
The appeal of these apparel pairings crosses genres as well. Ed Sheeran’s online store features jogger sets, which promote his Perfect and Divide albums in both heather grey and black.
4. Neon Brights
Step aside neutrals! Neons are having their moment. Chart topper Billie Eilish has her merch store fully stocked with neon yellows, oranges, and greens.
What do you think will be the next big trend in music merch? Share your predictions in the comments below!