Whether you've had the pleasure of attending overpriced chug-a-lug daycare, a.k.a. "college," or not, the iconography of the college logo is something you should be familiar with. We've all seen at least two minutes of a college sports game, so we all have an idea of how big a role college-branded apparel plays in student life. It's an absolutely massive market with a fanatical and seemingly insatiable user base, but it's not without its hurdles.
You need to know what's in style, both in decoration and apparel, with the 20-something crowd. You need to be really up on your printing knowledge and quality control, and maybe most importantly, you need to navigate any and all licensing and royalty issues that may arise.
Lesson One: What's Popular With The Kids
While picking a style and print design for moms, dads and even alumni is pretty straightforward, choosing one for the self-absorbed and style-conscious students? Not so much. After all, most social scientists agree that trying to understand the mind of a 20-something can be like throwing a lit match into a black hole to see how light bends. Thankfully, there are those out there who have braved their spacey depths and come back with helpful insights.
"Vintage, vintage, vintage," said Shannon VanWagoner, executive director, retail, for Atlanta-based Boxercraft. "Classic, distressed graphics are very popular in the collegiate market right now," she stated.
Lauren Cocco, senior merchandiser and embellishment specialist for Vantage Apparel, Avenel, N.J., elaborated on just what distressed prints might actually look like. "Soft-hand inks are often printed without an underlay to produce a washed out, vintage look," she said. "These techniques are designed for lightweight, heathered and color-wash tees and fleece styles." Aside from distressed prints, she pointed out that tonal oversized background designs with solid overprints, large left-chest and shoulder designs, and classic layouts in bolder/thicker fonts and colors are also popular, on solid as well as striped tees and fleece.