The word merch is synonymous with throwaway. Or at least it used to be. In 2PM’s leading story, Quartzy discusses the changing demographics that have influenced the types of products that luxury brands sell. Gone are the days when famed fashion houses like Gucci focus solely on traditional luxury fashion. Today, their products reflect an affinity for sweat pants, tennis shoes, and modern t-shirt patterns.
This has trickled on down to the merchandise industry. Younger millennials and Gen Z’ers wear merch as a fashion statement and luxury has adopted this burgeoning trend. For merch providers, this means that the American Apparel / LA Apparel aesthetic has given way to something new patterns, styles, and definitions of inclusivity.
2PM recently took a deep dive into the types of merchandising campaigns that are moving the concept of merch away from throwaway and towards luxury. In this archived brief, we explored everything from platforms used to preferred t-shirt patterns and blanks.
Social media and the normalization of digitally vertical native brands have enabled artists and influencers to create online retail brands as a primary source of revenue. In this report, we will break down best practices – including some insights from our editor’s work with a certain Youtube creator.
Bain Capital released a 2017 report on global luxury that emphasized this shift driven by millennial consumers. Here is an important excerpt:
The Millennial State of Mind: Success in the next decade requires brands to refocus on their customers to better anticipate and cater to their needs. The younger generation will be key as millennials and Gen Z will represent 45 percent of the global personal luxury goods market by 2025. Still, when analysing behaviours, it is more correct to talk about a “millennial state of mind,” which is increasingly permeating across all generations and is thus more a psychographic phenomenon rather than a purely demographic one.
Read the rest here.
To summarize Bain Capital, the Gen Z interpretation of luxury fashion has permeated throughout the entire industry. This has affected consumer industry across footwear, accessories, and apparel. There are merch providers that are well-positioned here.
Business of Fashion’s wrote a recent feature on the two founders of Everybody.World. The write up did a masterful job of explaining how one merch provider built a direct-to-consumer brand that fueled their high growth wholesale business. By working with a curated selection that represents the zeitgeist. This includes: style contributors, graphic designers, a well-designed basics line, and the one staple that has become the go-to for festival merchandisers.
Quality, too, has become increasingly important as concert merch has evolved from souvenir to fashion statement, underscored by merch-like pieces released by luxury brands including Gucci, Balenciaga and Vetements. “The demand is absolutely higher than when I started doing this six years ago,” said Allen, who sourced roughly 70,000 pieces of merch for 2018’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. “And the expectations for the product itself are definitely higher.”
That’s why, this year, Allen looked beyond the typical “blank” T-shirt companies — think Gildan, Bella Canvas and Hanes — to boost Coachella’s offering.
Cofounders Iris Alonzo and Carolina Crespo have done an extraordinary job of positioning the Everybody.World brand by building a strong direct-to-consumer business. Something that LA Apparel head Dov Charney is having problems with, this second time around. Due to the successes that they’ve had with wholesaling their famed ‘trash tee’ for $2.90/unit, wholesale traction has allowed the two founders to grow a substantial, higher-margin, direct-to-consumer business. Their main vehicle has been zeitgeist-driven basis and unexpected collaborations with contributors (even Virgil Abloh is listed on the site).
In Q2, merchandise drops have grown to become a major part of the creator narrative. Beyonce’s Coachella performance and her subsequent eCommerce drop was studied in Member Brief No. 11. And above, you’ll see high profile merchandise drops to include: Kanye West, Kid Cudi, and Nas.
As creators continue to emphasize merchandising as an extension of their art (and business), it’s imperative for providers to observe the shifts in the meaning of luxury and how Gen Z consumers have begun to shape the merchandise-turn-fashion industry. For the time being, tees are no longer a dress-down device. And it’s not just about what’s on the shirt, these days. Patterns and fit matter more than ever.
Blanks are no longer viewed as commodity products to a growing segment of American buyers. In fact, the industry is supplying a key component of Gen Z’s fashion identity. There are several providers that are well positioned to grow with the youngest of American consumers.
Read more of the issue here.
By Web Smith | About 2PM
Editor’s note: the next 2PM database (releasing 6/21) will include the most notable of merchandising providers to include Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s “Blank” run by Michelle Sharp. This will be a growing database. Join the executive membership for access.