100 Thieves launched their newest merch drop final week. The brand new t-shirt, which is available in black and white, celebrates the LA Thieves residence collection for the Name of Obligation League — and it is not their finest work.
On the entrance, it contains a fundamental LA ‘21 emblem. And on the again, it contains a stylized graphic with the title and date of the occasion.
Whereas I do just like the design on the again, wanting on the entrance with out context, it seems like a design you may anticipate from any sports activities franchise in LA. And that is a not good factor as a result of it implies that it seems generic. From the entrance, I’m not even positive it is 100 Thieves.
On this newest drop, 100 Thieves fell prey to a basic design blunder: the brand slap.
This design does not use any parts on the sleeves, contains a fundamental emblem on the entrance, and usually does not play with many design parts in any respect past the graphic on the again. It is a fundamental design.
Whereas 100 Thieves and others discuss a giant recreation relating to esports style, some collections in esports can nonetheless find yourself being little greater than a emblem on a shirt. Esports style is finest when it engages within the rigorous job of making one thing distinct, distinctive, and helpful that matches with the life-style of avid gamers. This implies pondering past the brand.
Esports merch doesn’t need to appear to be sports activities merch
Sports activities merchandise precedes esports merchandise by numerous years so it was the primary analog that many esports designers appeared to when fascinated about how they could design their very own merch. Because of this, numerous the designs we see popping out of the esports market look fairly much like conventional sportswear. The issue with that is that sports activities merch is maybe probably the most fundamental and uninspired sort of style design.
Whether or not it’s a hat for the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, a sweater for the Cleveland Browns, or a t-shirt for the L.A. Angels, most sports activities merch stays safely within the confines of “slap a emblem on it.” There are exceptions to this rule, however sports activities merch, usually, doesn’t stray from this method. Whereas this is not all unhealthy, it’s boring.
This template may proceed to work for sports activities given how established the “sports activities” look is, I don’t suppose that esports ought to comply with of their footsteps.
Over the previous few years, numerous esports organizations have been experimenting with fashion-forward designs that they drop in streetwear collections. These pioneering organizations have confirmed that esports orgs can discover some severe success in the event that they put money into high-quality attire design.
These drops deal with creating one thing distinctive and visually distinct. As an alternative of slapping varied articles of clothes with a emblem, organizations like Team Liquid, Andbox (who personal New York Subliners and New York Excelsior), and Misfits Gaming, are working towards producing lifestyle-focused, fashion-forward esports merch.
100 Thieves itself was one of many first organizations to provide streetwear esports designs, even when they fell quick with this newest line. It’s good to see that many esports organizations are leaping on board with streetwear assortment attire drops. Let’s maintain that prepare going!
Case Research: OWL 2020 attire versus OWL 2021 collections
The 2020 OWL gear created by Fanatics is the epitome of the “slap a emblem on it” mentality.
Many followers have been sad with final yr’s jersey designs as a consequence of how easy they have been compared to even the earlier yr’s jerseys. The supplementary hats, hoodies, and shirts that you may purchase on the OWL retailer weren’t significantly better, with most items amounting to little greater than a barely modified emblem on attire.
The 2020 designs don’t examine to the unimaginable merch strains popping out of organizations like NYXL, Florida Mayhem, and Dallas Gasoline in 2021.
We are able to already see an enormous enchancment, in solely a single yr, just by giving management again to the groups as a substitute of making an attempt to standardize every little thing. Dallas, Florida, and New York are doing a lot extra with these designs than simply taking their fundamental vector emblem and printing it onto attire, just like the Overwatch League did in 2020. They’re utilizing the entire shirt, together with the entrance, again, and even the sleeves to showcase design parts, and activating their designs in revolutionary methods which can be extra endemic to the manufacturers themselves.
I can’t communicate for everybody, since all of us have totally different preferences, however I personally would moderately spend cash on a rigorously thought out and executed assortment of merchandise, moderately than spend cash on yet one more piece of attire with the identical fundamental emblem on it and nothing extra distinctive to the product.
We should resist the temptation to emblem slap
Emblem slapping is all too frequent, in esports and even exterior esports. Hell, even streetwear manufacturers usually depend on the brand slap as a substitute of partaking with an actual collaboration. A superb instance of that’s when Supreme did their collab with the Nike SB Gato sneakers final yr and contributed little greater than their font, which they allegedly lifted from artist Barabara Kruger within the first place. So actually, Supreme provided nothing of their very own design to that collab.
So I don’t imply to name out esports as uniquely unhealthy since no dressmaker is immune from the attract of the essential emblem slap. However I do suppose the pathway ahead for good esports merch is to create distinctive designs and unique style that may assist push the trade and its income streams ahead.