Published 07 February 2024

10 min read

From NFL players and Bravo reality stars to film distributors and touring artists, merch is dominating fashion’s pop-culture-led landscape, with once kitschy novelty items becoming covetable collectables, and brands focusing on elevating memorabilia. We highlight the most commercial IPs, licensing opportunities, influences and product strategies in this vast and rapidly growing scene.

On-Screen Tie-Ins

Music Memorabilia

Merch Goes Meta

Spotlight on Sportswear

Lifestyle Leaders

Film and television have a huge influence on youth fashion, informing escapism-led aesthetics and driving demand for real-life replicas of on-screen style. From on-brand nostalgia bait to the rise of ‘elevated merch,’ media companies and fashion labels alike are seeking out innovative ways to turn costume departments into wearable content.

Film and television have a huge influence on youth fashion, informing escapism-led aesthetics and driving demand for real-life replicas of on-screen style. From on-brand nostalgia bait to the rise of ‘elevated merch,’ media companies and fashion labels alike are seeking out innovative ways to turn costume departments into wearable content.

Summary

On-Screen Tie-Ins

Film and television have a huge influence on youth fashion, informing escapism-led aesthetics and driving demand for real-life replicas of on-screen style. From on-brand nostalgia bait to the rise of ‘elevated merch,’ media companies and fashion labels alike are seeking out innovative ways to turn costume departments into wearable content.

Music Memorabilia

Merchandise is an increasingly lucrative revenue stream for touring artists, and many are thinking beyond the simple band tee – instead favouring fashion-led statement pieces that reference specific lyrics or speak to fandom in-jokes. Additionally, fans are getting more creative than ever with their show-going ensembles, blurring the line between merch and dress-up.

Merch Goes Meta

Pop culture’s influence on fashion is reaching fever pitch. 2023 was the year method dressing took over the red carpet, and in 2024, it’s making a commercial splash in consumers’ everyday wardrobes. Elsewhere, meme culture and buzzy social media topics are driving a huge spike in the popularity of ironic novelty merch – both official and unlicensed.

Spotlight on Sportswear

Celebrity hype and widespread access to streaming services mean that key franchises like soccer, basketball and American football are finding devoted merch-hungry audiences across a variety of unexpected demographics and territories. Smart brands and clubs are exploring new opportunities in apparel and accessories beyond jerseys, and are pivoting strategies to prioritise merchandise alongside on-pitch performance.

Lifestyle Leaders

From tees to totes, branded lifestyle merch across everything from grocery stores to ballet companies have become wearable signifiers of cultural capital – at a super accessible price point. And this extends into subculture, as Gen Z’s girlhood obsession spurs a popularity boom for nostalgia-driven IPs, filling a burgeoning market niche with DIY merch offerings.

The Merch Boom: Top Trends to Watch

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Topics

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Offering access to over 350 consumer and cross-industry reports annually, Stylus Membership is your window to tomorrow’s most exciting opportunities.

We already arm more than 500 of the world’s most forward-thinking brands and agencies with the creative insights they need to make transformative business decisions.

We’d love to do the same for you.

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