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Band merchandise – Its place in stores

Bruh, do you even know the name of the lead singer?

Do you remember the first time you saw a band T-Shirt being sold in a highstreet store, seemingly out of place? Mine was a ‘Frankie Says Relax’ T-Shirt in either Tescos or another similar shop. Admittedly, I was too young to understand what it meant, but it definitely intrigued me.


There has been countless examples popping up over the past few years of band merch being sold in stores; H&M stocking Nirvana and Urban Outfitters stocking Sonic Youth. Taking it away from the highstreet, we’ve recently seen Supreme release the Morrissey tee, and now a collaboration with Black Sabbath set to drop on Thursday. This shows the potential of a unique and limited release with a popular brand;  these musicians opting to expand their merchandise and establish a legitimate position in the fashion world, instead of selling their souls to mass consumerism.

supreme morrissey

The majority of us know who these bands and artists are, so arguably these collaborations are more for financial gain than to gain new following.  Considering it’s harder for older bands to tour with the pressure it puts on your health and mental wellbeing, selling merchandise in high street stores isn’t a bad idea,that is if you morally agree with being associated with a store like Primark for the rest of your musical career. They’ll probably sell for cheaper, in higher quantities to the general public without much regard for the actual artistry and musicianship, something you’d think these artists would like to hold onto after successful careers. The limited releases, like Supreme and Black Sabbath, which will sell for a higher price in smaller quantities, are definitely a viable way to retain credibility, but at the end of the day after long and lucrative career, who knows if these musicians are even bothered about their credibility anymore.


I’m sure some consumers will purchase these T-Shirts just because they think they look cool, regardless of whether they rate the bands music or not. hoever, there will also be fans of a younger generation who will be into music not of theirs. With the now over saturated music market (thanks to the internet), it’s no surprise some music fans prefer to listen to music from the past – raw, authentic and probably what they grew up on. Encouraging the general public to wear T-Shirts of bands they don’t even listen to could alienate the real fans when they’re needed most, no well known band wants to play a gig to a crowd full of people in their T-Shirts who don’t even know their songs.


So is this selling out for bands who are some of the worlds biggest and most well known, or is it just a way to revive a heritage act?


Written by Olivia Dytor