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Taking Notice of Branded Apparel

Revolution Digital’s Nick Orsini looks at examples of branded apparel crossovers and how authenticity and design can create conversations across categories.

Revolution Digital  |  October 17, 2021
Taking Notice of Branded Apparel

My cat is named after a brand of tortilla chips you might have heard of. They’ve got a distinct nacho cheese dust and have recently been used to house Taco Bell beef, lettuce and cheese. Naming your cat Dorito is next-level brand love, but Doritos are cool. My cat looks like a Dorito, which is also cool. I even got him a collar with Doritos all over it. Branded apparel has made its way to the mainstream, so much so that my cat is pretty much a walking billboard. Doritos on Dorito. But how can brands make the leap from shelves to shirts, from hood ornaments to hoodies? It all has to do with the search for what is, or is not, cool.

What’s cool? Well for Vespa, trying to gather more attention from Gen-Z presents an interesting case. When considering alternative travel methods, biking, walking, and public transportation are key, but what about…scootering? As Vespa got ready to roll out their electric scooter, they teamed with well-known sneakerhead and streetwear king Sean Wotherspoon and his Round Two Vintage brand to not only design a limited-edition scooter, but an apparel line of shirts, as well. Vespa is not in the apparel business, except that now, they actually are. And what’s cooler than upcycling and restoring vintage clothes to their former glory? The verdict is still out. But they’re not the only ones branching out with branded merch.

Nothing smells quite like KFC, so why not put that smell on your feet? That sounds gross, but what KFC did with Crocs has become a pretty clear blueprint for over-the-top apparel-crossover marketing. It might not be about having enough product to go around, but rather, creating buzz with limited-edition products. KFC debuted their own Croc, which not only had their famous red and white bucket print, but two “jibbitz” charms designed to look (and actually smell) like the brand’s original chicken recipe. The Crocs may have sold out in a half hour, but it created crossover press appeal that, no doubt, raised brand awareness.

But perhaps nothing stands out quite like when a Vermont ice cream company put their own stamp on one of the most iconic shoe brands and silhouettes. Ben and Jerry’s “Chunky Dunky” brought the ice cream brand into the mainstream with an incredibly limited-edition pair of Nike SB Dunks. The sneaker design and scarcity not only drew press to the brand, but with a limited drop on the infamous Nike SNKRS app, the iconic, progressive brand was thrust in front of new audiences. The pairing of an iconic shoe brand with Ben and Jerry’s ethos and mission to better the planet left an indelible mark on branded apparel.

The above examples prove that you don’t have to be an apparel brand to create an effective crossover. Footwear and apparel, especially when talking about “hyped” limited runs on clothing and shoes, can create buzz and brand awareness. Branded apparel, when done correctly, can vault brands into the cultural conversation, and create lasting brand awareness. At Revolution Digital, we’re always examining how to position brands at the forefront of consumer conversation. If you’re interested in learning more, visit our website at RevolutionDigital.com, or reach out to us online or at newbusiness@rev-d.com.

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