When I first think of merch, I think of the T-shirts I’d see students wearing in high school featuring the cool band they saw at the local concert arena or the logo of the college they aspired to get into. To me, merch was something that told a little story about the person wearing it and it felt more personal than the other pieces of clothing one owned. While fashion merch has evolved a long way from then, making its way into more communities, subcultures, and aesthetics. The core of it is still there: the desire to wear and represent your favorite brand/organization/cause.
Today, it’s not just about slapping a logo or image on a T-shirt. There are higher expectations set in place because when one buys a merch item, they’re associating themselves with a part of that image—whether it’s a message, aesthetic, or a brand. Either way, it’s something they obviously want to incorporate into their dressing, so why not make it look good, too? Artists have already received the memo and got more creative with keeping their fanbase entertained with their promotional clothing, like Taylor Swift with her album themed cardigans and Justin Bieber’s streetwear line, Drewhouse.
Music items aside, there’s a whole group of merch to get into. From beauty to the wellness and mental health space, brands are taking note that people want to feel connected to their clothing, more than ever. If a design, image, or quote can resonate with someone on a further basis than just aesthetics, all the more reason for them to wear it.
If you’re interested in the merch fashion scene and want to know what you’re missing, then I’ve relayed some of the best options on the market right now. Keep scrolling to find one you’ll be happy to add to your cart.
This unisex label’s aim is to offer a simplistic message that represented a break from the bustle of everyday life. Self-Care is for Everyone works with independent artists to create clothing that spread the message of the importance of mental health. Just in case you need positive assurance after that all-nighter. Glossier’s beauty products sell like crazy, but their GlossiWEAR releases are always fan favorites. (Even Timothée Chalamet owns a hoodie.) 50% of profits from the Women Are Powerful collection go to The National Women’s Law Center. Yes, I bought this just to feel like Rory Gilmore. Madhappy creates clothing to “Make the world a more optimistic place,” and I’ve got to say, these sweatshirts do put a smile on my face. If you’ve ever played a game of We’re Not Really Strangers, then you’d get why the brand is so popular, even coveting a recent collab with Valentino. When Chillhouse had to temporarily close due to the pandemic, they released a line that embodied what they stood for as a brand in the wellness space. Zara teamed up with Disney to bring you a collection of nostalgic but stylish pieces. Some of your favorite places in NYC have merch now. Jacquemus got the sock memo. Never too many band tees. Ganni’s cute take on the classic “shopper bag” logo. I’ve already had Holiday’s popular checkered pants on my wish list, but now this is on there too. The size-inclusive and widely loved underwear brand’s merch is just as good as their briefs. Our senior editor Kristen is a fan of this brand’s sweat sets. A fashion-girl favorite. Daniel Buezo and Weleh Dennis design clothing inspired by their roots and their experiences as first-generation American immigrants. Beauty guru Kathleen Lights’s label works with creatives in Miami inspired by their Cuban culture to create minimal and cozy pieces. Mayfair is a public relations agency but started selling its own line of positive-themed apparel that quickly gained a following. The only reminders you’ll need. I’m surprised an item from Justin Bieber’s latest drop is still in stock at this point. This is the brand’s last stock, so get your hands on them now. Next: From Size 0 to 4X, These 5 Elevated Trends Are Popping Off
It’s not just band tees anymore.
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