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.
In case you haven’t noticed, funny tees have been extremely popular as of late, with no indication of slowing down. In fact, on Etsy alone, there are over 93,000 results for ‘funny graphic tee’. If you haven’t considered adding the style to your custom apparel offerings, now is definitely the time.
Now, we know what you’re thinking—what exactly makes something funny?Is there a formula you can easily recreate for your own tees?
As it turns out, scientists and philosophers have been pondering several theories behind humor for hundreds of years. While it may not be an exact formula, understanding why people think situations are funny can inspire ideas for your creative new apparel.
To help provide some direction, we narrowed it down to the top three comedy theories. Let’s take a look!
If you’re wondering what halftone printing is though, here is a brief summary. This method is a one-color process that uses a series of dots varying in size or spacing, which combines together to form a gradient of that color. Those gradients then help to form the final image.
The number of halftone dots in the print is measured in LPI ( Lines Per Inch ), which is the number of dots per linear inch. The amount of detail and smoothness of your print will be determined a lot by the LPI.
In the video above, Geno will show you the difference in the results when printing using 35 LPI vs 55 LPI. He’ll also touch on the importance of screen tension, and using the right mesh to get the best results.
Do you want to sell more fashion tees, but haven’t had much success getting the right printing results when using them? Are you defaulting to selling basic cotton tees as a result? The problem could be that you’re working against your garment, and not with it. Times have changed and the “one style fits all” approach to screen printing just doesn’t cut it anymore. What works on basic 6.0 oz./ 100% cotton tees doesn’t necessarily work on lightweight fashion fabrics like 3.7 oz triblends or 4.2 oz 100% ringspun cotton. So what’s the difference?
Basic T-shirt Printing vs Fashion T-shirt Printing
Think of the 6.0 oz basic shirt as a really thick paper towel. Because of it’s heavier weight and rough surface, it can absorb a thicker layer of ink. On the other end of spectrum, the 3.7 oz triblend shirt is like a thin tissue that can’t absorb the same amount of ink.
When printing on a 6.0 oz shirt, a coarse mesh like 110 is used to lay down a thick opaque layer of ink. If we looked through a loop and magnified the surface of a basic 6.0 oz cotton tee, the cotton fibers have a rough texture that looks like a bale of hay (see the “Carded Open End Cotton” image on the left). Because of this, it’ll require a thicker layer of ink deposited onto it for you to get a fully opaque print. Otherwise, much of the ink will fall in between the fibers, since there isn’t a smooth, tightly knitted surface for it to be evenly distributed on.
Using this same thick stencil technique wouldn’t be as effective on a 30 singlescombed ringspun cotton shirt, though. Why? The tighter weave(see the “100% Combed & Ringspun” image on the right) allows the ink to easily sit on top of the fabric and be evenly distributed across the surface of the shirt. A thick layer of ink on top of a shirt like this will feel heavy and rough. The ink will rise off of it and defeat the whole purpose of using a softer fabric in the first place.
Why pay extra money for a soft fashion tee if you’re going to apply a thick, sandpaper-like design on it, taking away from its softness? It’s like putting cloth seats in an expensive luxury car. It just doesn’t match the product. Offer your clients decoration techniques that best compliment the garment.
The Right Tee For The Right Job
When your customer wants an opaque bold logo on a fashion tee, go with a 100% cotton ringspun tee. If they’re looking for a vintage look, with distressed artwork or logos, use blended heathered or blended solid tees. These work best because the texture of these fabrics can be blended into the artwork, helping to emphasize that vintage style.
Below is a list of inks, along with how and when the best time to use them is:
For Printing On 100% Combed Ringspun Cotton Fashion Tees:
Regular Plastisol Ink – When using this kind of ink, simply use a higher mesh count like 156 or 195 and add reducer to it, so it’ll to thin out a bit. (Keep in mind once you go over 10%, it will start to affect your ink color)
Plastisol Discharge Ink – Great technique for achieving bright whites that have very little hand, but can be a little chalky when it dries, compared to water-based discharge ink.
Water Based Ink – Good for creating a tone-on-tone print, when using light colored tees and it also has the softest hand of any print technique.
Water Based Discharge Ink – The discharge agent bleaches the dye of the cotton and replaces it with the pigment of the ink. This provides a much softer hand then a traditional plastisol under base on dark garments. Discharge agent only works on cotton though, so the garment will need to be 100% cotton for a fully opaque print.
For Printing On Fashion Tees w/ Blended Heathers or Blended Solid Fabric:
Water-Based Ink – Works well on lighter colors for a washed-out tone-on-tone look. The ink blends in with the heathered coloring of the fabric, which makes it feel like part of the shirt.
Fashion Based Ink – Best way to achieve the same super-soft hand as water-based ink does, but still gives you the ability to use plastisol ink and avoid using water based ink, if you’re not comfortable working with it.
Water-Based Discharge Ink – Great for tri–blends that contain cotton/poly/rayon only. The pigment in the cotton will be affected by the discharge, which produces a very vintage “washed out” look.
Jason is an Account Executive at S&S and has over 20 years of experience in the decorated apparel industry. These days he really enjoys using the knowledge he's gained throughout the years to help other industry professionals succeed.
Whether you design your own graphics for your apparel business or work with a graphic designer, it’s important to stay on top of the trends to make sure your garments remain relevant and are meeting a market need.
Here’s a closer look at seven major graphic design trends for 2019 to help your ideation process:
Wearing a cape can give you superpowers, but upselling with them can give you SUPER PROFITS! Imagine a client from a local school approaches you to print a bunch of tees for an upcoming event, and you have a Rabbit Skins Cape handy to show them. But, this is no ordinary cape. Its got a printed design on it using glow-in-the-dark ink! They see it glowing and instantly think, “WOW, this would be perfect to give our graduating kindergartners!” Now, you’ve turned that ONE job into TWO jobs from the same client.
When the right opportunity presents itself, these capes are the perfect way to increase your sales, and people will remember that you’re the one to go to, when they’re looking for cool ideas.
Why would you want to print this way? Sometimes, using discharge ink as a base, allows the plastisol colors on top to pop and look more vibrant, as you’ll see in the video.
If your going for a vintage look, discharging on garment dyed apparel is the perfect option for printing, since the ink will be set into the fabric, rather than be set on the surface of it. This gives you that “worn-in” look that makes the design look aged.
In a competitive screenprinting market, it’s vital for your print shop to continually find areas where niche skills can be added to help set your business apart. One way to catch the eyes of potential customers is by dazzling them with specialty inks. Before you cringe (we know, special inks can be hard to work with), specialty inks can bring a lot of value to your business, create awesome designs, and you can (and should!) charge premium pricing for the services. To help get you started, we’ve listed three Continue reading “Specialty Ink Basics: Setting Your Screenprinting Business Apart From Competitors”→
Research has shown that the children’s apparel industry is booming, and honestly, we’re not surprised. Custom bibs and hats are adorable gifts for baby showers, and thanks to social media, matching “parent-child” tees have become extremely popular. In 2016, global sales for children’s apparel and footwear outperformed adult fashion sales by experiencing a total value growth of 5% to reach $203.4 billion! Last year, childrenswear outpaced womenswear and menswear in retail value growth again. In simpler terms – children’s apparel is on the rise.