The Block

Inspiration — 11 months ago

The labels, artists and institutions owning music merch

From record label T-shirts to collabs between collectives, here we round up some of our favourite music merch.

 

For as long as we’ve had great T-shirt brands, or nearly at least, we’ve had great music merch. Early on in the life of the tee, it was the huge demand for band T-shirts and record label merch that catalysed graphics and screen printing techniques to evolve. Likewise, tees helped a whole generation of ‘60s bands carve out a visual identity and get the message out about their music, not to mention helping immortalise gigs and tours along the way. 

 

Now, some of the best tees on our platform and beyond also just happen to be music merch. So to celebrate the music labels, collectives, platforms and artists making great merch, we’ve rounded up some of our faves.

 

For a list that spans Naive Trax, Bone Soda, right through to titans like Island Records, read on.

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Everpress Team
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Public Possession Restaurant Sacred Volcano T-shirt, courtesy of Public Possession

NTS

Since it launched back in 2011, NTS has been so influential in championing underground artists and DJs that it’s strange to think it’s not even been around for a decade. Now broadcasting from Manchester, L.A. and Shanghai as well as London, it’s hard to overstate the impact the pioneering independent radio station has had on emerging alternative culture. True to everything they do, their recent merch offering has been eclectic and highly covetable.

Bone Soda

London collective Bone Soda scored a spot on our list for their capsule collection with Montreal creative agency Saintwoods. Inspired by ‘70s psychedelic rock, the selection of tees, hoodies and tote bags could be found at progressive retailers like LNCC. In the hands of designer Hugo B trippy ‘70s graphics got a contemporary, personalised spin; one T-shirt even featured a cameo from a python that lives with the Bona Soda crew. 

Bone Soda x Saintwoods T-shirt, courtesy of Bone Soda

Worldwide FM

Worldwide FM have run quite a few campaigns with us now, and when we spoke to their station manager Dan Moss he helped shed some light on the enduring appeal of music merch. In short: it’s a way of feeling like part of the family. “Hopefully our audience feels like an extension of our Worldwide Family,” he said. “Our presenters, team and listeners can all feel part of this station, and tees are a great way of showing affiliation and interest in our shared project.”

WWFM x On The Corner T-shirt, courtesy of WWFM

Naive

Naive Trax founder Inês Coutinho, aka Violet, knows a thing or two about music merch. Since launching with their signature playful logo tee, Naive have gone on to run 11 campaigns with us, and we’ve been seeing their logo crop up everywhere. As Violet put it here, “People are mad about the tees. It’s really heartwarming.”

Island Records

With a colourful history that spans over half a century, Island Records has left an indelible mark on music in Britain, America, Jamaica, and beyond. To celebrate 60 years of championing artists as varied as Roxy Music, Amy Winehouse, PJ Harvey and Janet Jackson, they brought out this special collection with us (with tie dye base tees provided by another Everpress favourite, Stain Shade.)

Island Records 60th Anniversary Long Sleeve

Boiler Room

Taking a different approach to the entire system of making and selling music merch, Boiler Room have moved away from the classic model of bringing out T-shirts pegged to specific events and shows. Instead, in the words of their Head of Apparel Simeon Merivale, they “create drops and seasons inspired by what else we are doing as a business.” Throw in collabs with everybody from Tokyo-based graphic designer Gucci Maze to Places+Faces, and you have a recipe for a special offering. 

Boiler Room merch for Palestine show, courtesy of Boiler Room

WHITIES

Starting out as a sub-label of Young Turks, Whities has quickly established itself as a bastion of innovative dance music, their reputation cemented by them taking over Berghain’s Säule floor back at the start of last year. Their merch has proved to be as boundary breaking as their music output, often going beyond what we’d typically expect of music tees. Take their Unité Dans La Diversité of April last year, which helped raise funds for Care 4 Calais, a charity which supports refugees living in Northern France and Belgium. 

Whitie’s Unité Dans La Diversité T-shirt, courtesy of Whities

BAADNEWS

When we spoke to Baadnews for our 50:50 campaign, he talked about his interest in the symbiotic relationship between music and design. “Right now I’m trying to find new ground in elevating the idea of what the relationship between music and design really is,” he said. “In the context of Baadnews, I think the music I’m into is a representation of my design and vice versa.” He brought this approach to his ongoing series of T-shirts with Expert Horror, which could be found at Dover Street Market and cult boutique Machine-A.

Baad News x Expert Horror photographed by Dennis McInnes
Baad News x Expert Horror photographed by Dennis McInnes

Pacific Rhythm

Working with designers, artists and creatives in your network is a sure-fire way to bring new perspectives to what you’re about. That’s why one of our favourite things about Vancouver-based label Pacific Rhythm’s output is their collaborative approach. Since 2013 they’ve worked with different designers, including the likes of Rhek and Deep Gnome, to make consistently fresh merch (& they landed a spot on our favourite designs of last winter lineup.)

Public Possession

From their Club Tomorrow hoodie to their Kid’s Dental Shirt (for ages 3-6 only) record label Public Possession’s offering is as offbeat and eclectic as you’d expect. They’re not afraid to go against the grain of what’s conventionally expected of music merch, an approach which has seen them pair with Munich’s A Kind of Guise fashion store on some limited edition tees and bags.

Public Possession x A Kind of Guise T-shirt, courtesy of Public Possession

The Trilogy Tapes

With the signature abstract ‘TTT’ logo, and each collection having hotly anticipated drops at Palace and Dover Street Market, The Trilogy Tapes merch functions nearly as a brand in its own right. Throw in collabs with the likes of streetwear brand Cav Empt and you have a recipe for one of a kind merch. 

Trilogy Tapes T-shirt, photographed by @clareshilland

XL Recordings

XL Recordings might have been around since 1989, but they still manage to have some of the freshest music merch around. The label keeps its fans on their toes with a multifaceted offering that spans collaborations with fashion label Maharishi, to the VISION capsule collection, which celebrated the 1992 rave thrown by XL co-founder Richard Russell. Vintage ‘90s pieces have been known to cause a stir when they emerge on eBay too. 

Read More: Everpress Meets: Designing For Music