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New Service Lets YouTubers Sell Swag From Video Pages

In a Nutshell

*The new merch service displays branded products in a shelf below videos –fans click on items to purchase.

*Teespring and YouTube get a cut of the sales.

YouTube just took a big step into the promotional products industry – and boosted a competitor to traditional distributors in so doing.

The San Bruno, CA-based company announced last week that creators with more than 10,000 fans can sell branded merchandise directly through their channel on the popular video sharing website. Teespring, a web-based custom merchandise platform, will provide the fulfillment. Creators will be able to offer more than 20 merch items with their custom branding, including T-shirts, phone cases and hats.

As part of the service, branded items will appear in a shelf below participating creators' videos. To buy, a fan simply clicks on a product image in the shelf and is re-directed to Teespring, where they purchase the item. A number of media outlets reported that some YouTube creators already had success with the new swag service during beta testing. The creator of Lucas the Spider, for example, made more than $1 million in profit in about three weeks after selling a plush version of Lucas through the YouTube/Teespring service.

According to Teespring, YouTubers that sold through the merch shelf during beta testing experienced an 82% success rate. In fact, Teespring said conversions from views to sales tested at 2-½ times higher than with the typical YouTuber process for pitching merch on the platform, which essentially involves providing links to online destinations where creators' swag can be bought. Bottom line: It all translated into 25% more units sold per participating user in the limited beta group, data showed.

Given such numbers, it's not a surprise that other YouTubers were keen to get in on the action after YouTube moved to full rollout late last week.

Still, there was some backlash against YouTube's decision to partner with Teespring, which has been at the center of controversy for failing to detect that independent creators were selling everything from swastika/Nazi gear to pro Dylann Roof T-shirts on its platform.

Meanwhile, some critics noted that certain YouTubers already have merch partnerships with other companies and might not desire to use Teespring. YouTube is not requiring creators to use the on-page merch shelf offering, meaning video makers can still plug links to swag-buying destinations as has been done. Admittedly, that might put such creators at a disadvantage. Even so, YouTube is reportedly looking to add more online custom product providers from which creators can sell merch directly through its platform.

For those interested in the financial mechanics, it appears Teespring will retain a flat price per item sold. YouTubers will be able to set the pricing on products so there is potential for mark-up on popular products, which could possibly lead to substantial profit. Teespring's cut can vary per item and on quantity sold. YouTube receives a commission on the sales, but did not reveal the specifics of its compensation.

For Teespring, the partnership with YouTube is a huge win. Laying employees off amid difficult times a few years ago, the web-based merch seller now stands ready to benefit from a potentially massive new revenue channel. Could the exposure Teespring will gain threaten at least some sales for traditional distributors? Could the YouTube/Teespring partnership weaken distributors' ability to compete for the business of YouTubers selling merch? We'll be interested to see how things play out.

Capsule Collection Weds High Fashion With World Cup Spirit

In a Nutshell

*Fashion designers created looks for hoodies and T-Shirts to represent nations participating in the 2018 World Cup.

*Part of the proceeds benefit a children's charity.

Some mega popular international footballers – soccer players to us Yanks – are known to translate their sporting stardom into being fashion icons off the pitch. Just think of the ever Instagramable David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo. Given that, the new Soccer Couture collection of printed apparel tied to the 2018 World Cup makes a lot of sense.

The capsule collection is the fruit of a partnership between online fashion retailer Yoox and SEPP, a publication covering soccer/fashion. The pair enlisted fashion designers to create looks to embellish T-Shirts and sweatshirts. Each graphic represents something about the spirit of a nation whose national football team is participating in the World Cup, the international tournament being played now into July. Participating fashionistas include Vivienne Westwood, Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida, and Esteban Cortazar.

Hearteningly, part of the proceeds from sales of the #YOOXSOCCERCOUTURE capsule collection are being donated to Stars for Children, a charitable foundation founded in 2015 by Russian soccer player Alexander Kerzhakov to support kids in need and help them get involved in sports.

Anyway, without further ado, here are a few samples from the collection:

This design from Isolda supports Brazil – the nation that's won the World Cup more than any other (five times). Designers intend the plants and wildlife in the print, which are native to Brazil, to capture the essence of a big multicultural country that is unified by its love of soccer.

Created by Kolor, this design displays the famous Rising Sun of the Japanese flag. Designers said the idea is to show that passion for soccer can connect people, encouraging unity that helps them to become one – like a single rising sun.

This design from Nio Far x Mwami represents Senegal – sadly now eliminated from the tourney. Still, it's a great design, using the symmetry and position of the Senegal lion as a nod to traditional African masks.

Marques'Almeida came up with this creation that takes the brand's penchant for stripes and divvies the concept up into abstract shapes in the striped colors of Portugal's flag.

Let Freedom Ring with Vintage Americana Clothing

In a Nutshell

*Retro patriotic styles have an enduring appeal.

*Don't limit yourself to Independence Day. There are plenty of opportunities year-round to pitch this trend.

A sea of people in red, white and blue emerge each year to celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks and festivities. But stars and stripes – particularly with a faded, distressed look – have an unflagging, year-round appeal.

Classic Americana "never goes out of style because it's homegrown and therefore touches on the nostalgic aspect of the unique American spirit," according to the Creative Market blog.

Alternative Apparel (asi/34850) recently released its Americana-inspired apparel line that features the classic red, white and blue in vintage style. The company used a "fabric first" approach to ensure soft, simple and eco-friendly apparel.

"Our Americana collection is the perfect apparel for any [Fourth of July] celebration," says Kevin Miles, director of sales operations for Alternative Apparel. "And beyond our favorite star-studded holiday, the vintage look of these styles is classic and timeless. The elevated stars-and-stripes prints create neutral design elements as a backdrop for embellishment."

Alternative Apparel's Americana collection includes baseball tees, ringer T-shirts, sweatshirts and tank tops.

To achieve a Vintage Americana look, designers typically use dusty reds, dirty whites and faded blues. The perfect balance of all three ensures no color overpowers another. Plus, it's more subtle and retro than the bright and vibrant flag motifs typically deployed for the Fourth of July. Think of any design or aesthetic that brings you back to the good old days. Vintage Americana reflects classic cars, 1970s-era John Travolta films and cozy diners from the 1950s.

Vintage Americana has an enduring patriotic feeling, which thrives despite the challenges the U.S. currently faces, according to Lea Robinson, vice president of sales and marketing for Staton Corporate and Casual (asi/89380). "It's a feeling that never goes away, whereas [saturated red, white and blue looks] feel like we are celebrating more in the moment."

The vintage Americana trend has broad appeal across party lines and demographics. After all, "Vintage is ageless," Robinson says.

"It's really the convergence of three well-established trends — the popularity of classic styles like baseball tees and ringer tees, the appeal of the vintage look and feel, and the drive toward authentic brands," Miles says. "It also connects to the idea of sustainability and durability."

Vantage Apparel (asi/93390) has also been capitalizing on the retail trend by applying vintage design to its merchandise. Even the cover page of this year's Vantage Apparel catalog is rendered in red, white and blue.

"Our design team spent a lot of time researching trends and putting together different ideas for this year's merchandise," says Gina Barreca, director of marketing for Vantage. "We decided on something that would show different colors and patterns that would work for various companies. The colors red, white and blue were up there and we saw an opportunity to go beyond the basic idea."

The Vansport Zen Pullover (3450 men's, 3451 women's) from Vantage Apparel

A screen print with a vintage Americana feel by Vantage Apparel.

This Gildan Fleece Hoodie with Custom Color Draw Cord features decoration with a vintage Americana feel.

Vantage Apparel has also explored the idea of adding the stars and stripes pattern within the fill of a logo to give it a patriotic look. Even clients that have strict logo guidelines have options: "Adding the company established date to a logo or using a small flag as a second placement are easy ways to put a heritage spin to apparel," Barreca says.

The company also recommends screen printing with soft-hand inks and distressed art filters to achieve the vintage and nostalgic aspect of the Americana theme. Soft cotton-rib appliqué also fits with the vintage Americana look.

For J. America (asi/62977), vintage styles have been surfacing in the past few years. Steve Zimmerman, vice president of sales, says that vintage designs continue to be a staple of the company's assortment, because "they are timeless." J. America recently introduced vintage Americana to its Top of the World headwear collection, by adding a vintage wash to the fabric.

Vintage Americana evokes a classic, nostalgic and retro feeling in the wearer. Showing off samples in that style will help you get that message across to clients, Miles says. "Create a trend sheet that captures vintage Americana styles from runways to retail displays," he suggests.

Though vintage Americana is a perfect fit for Independence Day, there's no need to retire the style after the fireworks fizzle and the picnics peter out. Opportunities to use the retro motif abound, suppliers say.

"Our country has gotten very patriotic the last couple of decades, not that we hadn't been prior to then," Zimmerman says. "Between our national holidays, sporting events, the agriculture market and what now seems to be endless election campaigning across the country, there are numerous opportunities for distributors and decorators to work with end users on Americana themes year round."

J. America introduced vintage Americana styling to its headwear collection.

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