The souvenir shirt has a reputation for being tacky, as a cursory glance at the average tourist trap shop would prove. However, they do not have to be this way. Think of how many people are willing to commemorate their vacation by purchasing these ugly tees. Now think of how many more people would be willing to buy legitimately fashionable and good-looking clothes themed to the area they are visiting. There is a market for eye-catching souvenir T-shirts. Here are some tips for designing them.
Think Beyond the Vacation
One thing you must keep in mind while creating clothes for tourists is that those tourists will not be here forever. At some point, the vacation must end and they must go home with all their mementos. This may seem obvious, but it points to a bigger truth: your clothes must seem appealing outside of your area, not just within its borders. Otherwise, once-eager customers may confine the shirts to the bottom of the pajama drawer.
For example, every single souvenir store in Miami offers shirts that read something to the effect of “I’m in Miami Beach.” The slogan includes the name Miami, references a hit pop song, and (when rendered in all caps and bold font) showcases the in-your-face attitude of this party-hearty city. Wearing it outside of the South Florida hotspot risks making one look, well, trashy. However, here are some tips to avoid that. Read on!
Capture the Local Culture
Everyone loves a good monument, especially clothing designers looking for tourist dollars. However, the landmarks you are considering may already be overplayed (think of all the shirts that already feature London’s Big Ben and Paris’s Eiffel Tower). Others may simply not be interesting enough for most people to want on their clothes, regardless of their historical or aesthetic value. Freedom Tower and the American Airlines Arena are iconic to Miami, but they may not translate well to icons on clothing.
You may want to consider taking your inspiration not from the monuments themselves, but the culture of the people who live in their shadow. A vendor in Paris may, in lieu of the Arc d’Triomphe or the Louvre’s pyramid, offer clothes of the city’s delicious and visually appealing cuisine. A Miami-based merchant may find more luck selling shirts of seashells and sandy shores than the city skyline. After all, the sights that tourists see may prove less memorable than the experience of interacting with this new culture.
Souvenirs with Style
Souvenir clothing producers often give in to the temptation of loud colors and flashy designs. How else do you grab the attention of tourists, always on the move and heading for the next item on their to-do lists? Unfortunately, for all the notice you gain, you may lose out on offering something they would find appealing. It is the equivalent of trying to attract conversation partners by yelling, “Talk to me!” at strangers.
Instead of going for gimmicks and stunts, try focusing on something that your audience might actually believe they would look good wearing. Everyone’s stylistic preferences are different anyway, so choose an aesthetic and attract fans of that aesthetic. This could mean soft tones with minimal graphic design or bright colors with large text and illustrations. Whatever you make, make something with substance.
Pair Sweatshirts and Tees
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