Merch Madness: Printing expert shares his verdicts on the top trends

Merchandising expert and founder of leading printing company, ICON Printing, Alex Econs, weighs in with his verdict on the top merch trends this season

Hospitality merch
At a time when the hospitality industry was in tatters due to the pandemic –many businesses began producing and selling covetable, design savvy merchandise.

Alex, founder of ICON Printing said: “We have seen increasing numbers of bakeries, breweries, restaurants and even coffee shops investing in merch that doubles up as both staff uniforms and sellable wares. The hospitality industry has always been quick to capitalise on retail opportunities but never at the same level as during the pandemic. At ICON Printing, we have seen a 143% increase in t-shirts and tote bags orders at Icon since 2019 from coffee shops alone.

“For those in the food and drinks industry, merch is often an essential means for smaller restaurants and bars to build their following and promote their brand. Loyal gastronomes and craft beer connoisseurs are able to pledge fealty to their favourite venues via T-shirts, hats and trusty tote bags.

“As the independent bars and restaurants continue to rise in popularity, expect to see continued growth of merch. Forget cheap, overly branded souvenirs - this is merch with serious design kudos and flair. If there was ever a time to invest in merchandise for your hospitality venue, it’s now.”

Netflix merch
The streaming behemoth’s shows certainly have taken the world by storm, from 1970s nostalgia tripping with Stranger Things to the Korean absurdism of Squid games, it’s no wonder Netflix has taken the world by storm, capturing the cultural zeitgeist like no other entertainment platform.

Alex, founder of ICON Printing said: “Stranger Things' nostalgia trip single handedly revitalised the public’s love of the 1970s, and Netflix were quick to capitalise on the fixation. From video games(1), board games(2), pinball machines(3) and even their own burger(4), the media giant's focused approach to expansion has allowed for a continuous relevance across social media.
“Netflix’s most recent breakout success was Squid Games; Not only did green and white tracksuits become an instant best seller shortly after the series premiere, but sales of “white, slip-on Vans” have also increased by a staggering 7,800%(5) since the series premiere.

“Netflix’s quick turnaround on official merchandise has allowed them to capitalise of the show's massive popularity. Squid Games’ instant success has led to Netflix recently launching their own online merchandise store. The store jumped to the number one position on Google searches(6) for ‘Netflix Merch’, allowing them to enter the merchandise market several years later than expected without missing a beat. And as it continues to see its subscription numbers slow(7), expect to see the streaming giant continue to expand into the e-commerce market.”

Supermarket Style

Lidl launched its four product #LidlByLidl merch range of distinctive and playful blue, red and yellow trainers, socks, swimming shorts and tote bag in September and Twitter went crazy! Earlier in the year, Aldi also released its own line of sportswear and loungewear, named Aldi Mania(8). Again, there was a huge increase in interest with a 100% increase in searches during April.

Alex, founder of ICON Printing said: “We have seen a number of supermarkets release merchandise over the past year and from the news coverage and social media storm we have seen it generate, it is undeniably a great marketing tactic for brands. It's become very apparent to us that Brits love novelty merchandise and supermarket merch is this season’s must have item.

“From previous client projects at ICON Printing we know that brands with a playful tone of voice can cause a bit of a stir with logo centric design, recognisable colour schemes and some savvy marketing to transform what is essentially very simple clothing items. If you’ve got the personality, you can create great merch to match.”

Violent Merchandise:
After the tragic death of Halyna Hutchins on the set of upcoming movie Rust, Donald Trump Jr released an inflammatory t-shirt that said “Guns don’t kill people, Alec Baldwin does.”
Alex, founder of ICON Printing said: “The messaging on these t-shirts is concerning, as are the comments from some of Don Jr’s defenders. It’s important that printers consider the impact and offence any design could cause to the public, especially around a sensitive subject such as the fatal shooting on set in America.
“Whilst all designs can be subjective, even independent printers have a responsibility to ensure any designs and messaging are not likely to cause harm or promote violence. At ICON, we carefully review every design ahead of it being printed, and use our own expertise to determine the impact it could have.”

1     https://www.thegamer.com/stranger-things-every-game-and-crossover-best/
2     https://dnd.wizards.com/products/tabletop-games/rpg-products/stranger-things-dd-roleplaying-game-starter-set
3     https://www.libertygames.co.uk/store/pinball_machines/brand_new_pinball_machines/stranger-things-pro/?          gclid=Cj0KCQjwwY-     LBhD6ARIsACvT72PcGfBFPPtPRbLjhnuAE_iHLu22vnWDJFg6hMWOlf6myWSVODhS2KgaAthZEALw_wcB       
4     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbFKVtvUIsQ
5      https://variety.com/shop/squid-game-halloween-costume-white-slip-on-vans-1235082287/
6      https://app.ahrefs.com/keywords-explorer/google/us/overview?keyword=netflix%20merch
7     https://www.thedrum.com/profile/whatagraph/news/netflix-enters-e-commerce-as-subscription-growth-slows
8      https://www.aldi.co.uk/aldi-mania