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Blog / Style & trends / 50 Surprisingly Creative Merch Ideas + Examples

Style & trends

50 Surprisingly Creative Merch Ideas + Examples

50 Surprisingly Creative Merch Ideas + Examples
Gabriela Martinez

By Gabriela Martinez

19 min read

Are you looking for merch ideas? Whether you’re an influencer, musician, or entrepreneur looking to sell your own merch, you’re in the right place. 

Merch can help you strengthen connections with your audience and promote your brand, channel, or community. Plus, it’s a way to generate extra income.

To succeed, selecting merch items that resonate with your followers is crucial. The first step? Knowing your options. 

In this guide, we’ve compiled the most popular merch ideas, so you’re sure to find something that catches your eye.

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1. Cool merch ideas 

Merch wasn’t always cool. It took time for brands to understand that they could do more than just place their names or logos on products. Today’s merch is personalized and of higher quality, giving users items they’re proud to own and use.

Thanks to the rise of ecommerce and print-on-demand dropshipping, it’s become easier than ever to start an online merch store with minimal investment and reach your audience anywhere in the world. 

With print-on-demand, each item is printed and shipped to the customer only after they place an order—no need to keep inventory or worry about unsold stock. Plus, you get to try different products and designs without losing money!

Let’s look at some cool merch ideas to help you to start selling merch.

Hoodies

Since 2020, athleisure has become a full-blown trend, and hoodies are more popular than ever. With the right design, they can help establish a connection with your target audience.

Learn more: The Ultimate Hoodie Design & Logo Placement Guide

Check out the black-owned athleisure brand Actively Black. In collaboration with Marvel Studios, they launched a whole Wakanda Forever-themed clothing collection. Of course, hoodies were one of the stars of their campaign.

marvel merch example

Source: News Onyx 

Product suggestions:

Sweatshirts

Just like hoodies, sweatshirts are everywhere. You can wear them to work, exercise, or party and use them to promote your projects. 

The one and only Sir Paul McCartney—you know, from the Beatles—launched an exclusive sweatshirt to promote his Got Back tour on his website.

Band merch can be a great way of bringing your fans together and raising funds for your band’s tour. More on that later. 

music merch

Source: Paul McCartney’s official website

Product suggestions:

Premium t-shirts

T-shirt printing is definitely one of the most popular merch ideas out there. But your merch needs to match the quality of your work. That’s why we suggest you sell premium t-shirts with high-quality designs. Depending on your aesthetic, they can be elaborate and colorful or simple and chic.

The toy brand Mattel launched Barbie shirts for the doll’s fans around the world. Note that the design is just the Barbie logo, but the look and color choice are on point. 

merch ideas barbie

Source: Mattel Creations

Product suggestions:

Childhood memories and pop culture references can inspire you to generate profitable merch ideas. Just remember to always respect copyrighted work.

Learn more: Can I Print That? Copyright and Trademark 101.

There are more t-shirt design ideas throughout this article.

Beanies

Merch ideas may vary according to your selling region and different seasons. During winter, beanies make great canvases for your art.

Plus, beanies are the perfect merch item for embroidered designs. Just take a look at this example from the musician Wobblebot.

a black beanie with white text on it

Source: @thewobblebot

Product suggestions:

Caps

If beanies are a hit in the winter, caps are popular year-round. Show off your project’s name or logo, a quote, or surprise your fans with a signature catchphrase—just like the activist group GRL PWR did.

a woman wearing a hat and holding her hat

Source: @grlpwrfeminists

Pro tip—experiment with different caps models:

Valuable read: Jump on the Dad Caps Trend: Best Dad Hats to Sell

Mugs

Beloved and useful, custom mugs are a top merch idea for selling online. Make them your own by adding original artwork or fun and motivational quotes. 

enamel mug merch example

Enamel mug by MonsieurDorian

Custom mugs can work especially well if your niche is related to office supplies, home decor, or gaming.

Product suggestions:

Learn more: 37 Mug Design Ideas to Sell and Gift

Want to give designing a try? Check out Printful’s Design Maker.

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Tote bags

Initially, tote bags became popular as substitutes for plastic bags. Now, they’re part of most wardrobes for just about any occasion.

Women Who Code, a nonprofit organization that aims to empower women in tech, found tote bags to be an excellent way to spread awareness. Additionally, they also bring in revenue to support the organization.

tote bag merch

Source: Women Who Code 

Product suggestions:

Phone cases

More than just protection, phone cases are a form of self-expression. Do you know anyone who doesn’t have one? It’s a must-try merch idea if your brand is related to fashion or tech.

Play around with colors, patterns, and photos to create impossible-to-ignore phone cases that protect and promote at the same time.

phone case merch

Source: Printful

Product suggestions:

Read also: How to Design a Custom Phone Case

Earphone cases

Want an even more original merch idea? Try earphone cases. They’re just as easy to customize and may be just what you’re looking for to make your merch store stand out.

a black case with a flower on it next to a white earbuds

Source: Printful

Product suggestions:

2. Creative merch ideas

While t-shirts and coffee mugs are undoubtedly popular, there are many other creative merch ideas that you might not have considered. Plus, depending on your niche, you might discover something that suits you just perfectly.

Embroidered sweatshirts

As we’ve said, sweatshirts are found in most wardrobes these days. Embroidery is a way to give them a premium look.

Take this “I need a nap” sweatshirt as an example. Doesn’t it give off a higher-quality vibe with the embroidered design? 

a woman smiling with her hands on her hips

Source: The Drop by Stylist 

Product suggestions:

Bomber jackets

Bomber jackets are another premium item to add to your merch collection. With Printful, you can customize the chest, sleeves, and back with your brand logo or design. You could also apply a creative pattern to the whole thing and make an exclusive all-over-print garment that shows off your brand.

bomber jacket merch

Source: Printful

Product suggestions:

Shorts

They’re fun and comfortable, and you probably didn’t consider them for your merch until now. Shorts are a unique item that’ll surprise your customers when they browse your catalog.

Here’s some inspiration directly from Coca-Cola:

Product suggestions:

Leggings

Leggings have crossed over from gym attire to everyday wardrobes. Plus, they’re fun to customize with bright patterns. 

Take a page from musician Kaylie Caswell’s book and help your customers make a statement using this ultra-comfortable gear. 

leggings merch example

Source: @kayliecaswell

Product suggestions:

Socks

When the weather gets colder—and we get older—receiving socks as a gift doesn’t seem so bad, especially if they have a fun, creative design. Being a foodie myself, I’ve been crazy about these sushi socks since I saw them on Amazon for the first time. They’re also a top-notch inspiration for quirky custom merch.

sock merch example

Source: Food Beast

Product suggestions:

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Duffle bags

Duffle bags may not sound so creative at first, but think again. How about adding a fun design and making them part of a sportswear set? Plus, they’re a super practical merch item—you can use them for exercise, travel, and beyond.

duffle bag merch example

Source: Printful 

Product suggestions:

Sports Bras

Speaking of matching items, sports bras work great as part of athleisure sets. This piece is a must-have item for anyone who wants an active-yet-comfortable lifestyle like Robi Lami.

athleisure merch example

Source: Instagram @roby_lami_singer

Product suggestions:

Fanny packs

If there’s one accessory that knows how to make a comeback, it’s the fanny pack

After being forgotten for a time, they’ve resurfaced as a trendy fashion staple.

Get inspired by these vivid gems by Katie Kortman. The season 19 designer on Bravo’s Project Runway has her own online store and turns her creative ideas into colorful, maximalist merch items.

fanny packs merch

Source: Pinterest

Product suggestions:

3. Band merch ideas

If you’re in the music business and still don’t offer merch for your fans, you’re missing out. Band merch is a way of helping your fans express their admiration for your work and promoting an upcoming album, tour dates, or even financing a new project.

Designs can include your logo, music lyrics, your album cover, or the band’s photo. You can sell custom merch on your website, in record stores, or at gigs.

Check out these band merch ideas for inspiration!

Caps

Caps can dance to any rhythm and make a great addition to your band merch store.

Latin rapper and singer Bad Bunny created a strong visual identity for his Un Verano Sin Ti album, which generated many fun merch items for his fan base around the globe. 

Here’s one of the caps from his collection.

band merch example

Source: Bad Bunny Store

Product suggestions:

Hoodies

While researching creative merch ideas for this article, it was hard to find a band merch store that didn’t have at least one hoodie. So why wouldn’t yours?

Experiment with colors and visuals, and launch collections related to your songs or tour titles.

Singer and fashion icon Harry Styles surprised fans by choosing two bunnies to represent his 2021–2022 tour, spurring many online conversations about their meaning. If the goal was to generate buzz, well, it worked.

musician merch example

Source: Harry Styles Store

Product suggestions:

T-shirts

T-shirts have always been the No. 1 band merch item. It doesn’t matter what you listen to; you’ll always rep your favorite band’s tee with pride. 

Take a look at 5 Seconds of Summer’s custom t-shirts.

Product suggestions:

Patches

Looking for a less obvious merch idea for your band? How about patches? Let your fans customize their clothing with your band’s name or logo. They can be embroidered, cut into a custom shape, and applied to jackets, backpacks, sweatshirts, and reusable bags to give an edgy look to any outfit.

band embroidered patches

Source: Pinterest

Product suggestions:

Posters

A classic is a classic. And posters will always be a piece of art for true fans of your music. These collectible items are easy to produce and send—especially if you use print-on-demand dropshipping.

Make them even more valuable by investing in exclusive art and adding tour dates and locales to your merch. 

a sign with palm trees and sun

Source: The Lumineers official store

Product suggestions:

4. Youtuber merch ideas

In 2024, YouTube reached 2.9B users around the globe, making it one of the most popular video platforms in the world. And that’s thanks to the talented creators constantly bringing new content to the platform.

Are you one of them? How about using your inventive mind to create profitable merch too? You can promote it on your YouTube channel and sell it on your website, ecommerce platform, or marketplace.

Don’t know where to start? Here are some ideas for your creative process.

Apparel

The safest choice is apparel. We’re not just talking custom t-shirts and jackets but also pants, dresses, or even swimwear. Just ask yourself: what would my audience like to wear?

With print-on-demand, you can do it all without investing in inventory.

a woman with curly hair wearing a black shirt

Source: Cloakbrand

The YouTuber Markiplier used his passion for horror-themed video games to create an original clothing line. He also partnered with other YouTubers to start a clothing brand Cloakbrand.

Product suggestions:

Caps and beanies

Expanding your merch collection with headwear is certainly a good idea. There are plenty of possibilities for hats in terms of models, colors, and printing techniques or placements.

The magician and Youtuber Zach King offers his subscribers caps and beanies, among other items.

youtuber merch

Source: Zachking

Product suggestions:

Tech accessories

Accessories are among the most profitable dropshipping products out there, as they usually have a higher profit margin and greater sales volume. And in the tech accessories category, there are a few standouts: 

  1. Phone cases

  2. AirPod cases

  3. Laptop sleeves

  4. Gaming mouse pads

Check out this quirky and cute phone case collection by the true crime YouTube channel and podcast Morbid. Do you have a quirky slogan or catchphrase too? Put it in a design and let your fans express themselves with it.

phone case merch

Source: Morbid ecommerce store

Want more merch design ideas? Check out 15 Successful YouTuber Merch Stores to Get Inspiration From.

You might also like: How to Make Money on YouTube with a Small Channel.

5. Podcast merch ideas

Speaking of Morbid, let’s talk Podcast merch. Lately, this type of content has become increasingly popular.

While content monetization is one way to get paid, selling merch online can help increase profits or even help finance your project as it grows.

Apparel

Emma Chamberlain, the YouTuber and podcaster, hosts her weekly show anything goes with emma chamberlain from the comfort of her bed, where she freely shares her thoughts. What better merchandise could there be than cozy sweatshirt and sweatpant sets?

podcast merch example

Source: Emma Chamberlain’s official store 

Product suggestions:

Drinkware

As a daily use item, drinkware helps keep the show top of mind for listeners. It’s practical, customizable with logos or catchphrases, and promotes the podcast with every sip.

Check out this colorful water bottle design of the true-crime podcast My Favorite Murder.

a black water bottles with colorful text

Source: Exactly Right Store

Product suggestions:

If your podcast is on Spotify, there’s a way of maximizing your revenue stream by linking your Spotify artist profile to your merch. This is how it’s done:

preview play-button

6. Artist merch ideas

Selling merch as an artist is a smart way to generate extra income. And marketplaces like Etsy are a paradise for customers who are looking for products with original artwork. Let’s check some of them out. 

Stickers

Stickers aren’t just for kids. They’re a fun way to show your personality, values, or just a bit of artsy flair. You can use them on notebooks, laptops, water bottles, or accessories. 

With Printful, you can make stickers in different shapes and sizes.

sticker merch

Source: AZiggies store

Pro tip: Add free stickers to your pack-ins for a personalized brand experience.

Find more amazing sticker ideas from our blog post 39 Sticker Ideas: Get Inspired and Design Your Own.

Product suggestions:

Valuable read: Custom Sticker Ideas: Get Inspired and Design Yours

Posters

When we first think of an artist’s work, we usually envision wall art. Posters are a staple of this merch category, whether you’re a painter, digital artist, or photographer. 

Learn more: 29 Poster Ideas + Tips to Create Your Own Poster Design

Choose from regular or framed posters in various sizes and help your fans turn any room into a beautiful gallery.

poster artist merch

Source: @eliyahqureshi

Product suggestions:

Canvas

Canvases are ideal for printing colorful designs and painting reproductions. Plus, you can easily sell them online with print-on-demand.

canvas merch

Source: Instagram @juliannefelton

Product suggestions:

Flags

A flag is another excellent creative merch option. This decorative wall art lets you make a statement, brighten up any room, and increase your store’s revenue.

flag merch idea

Source: Printful

Product suggestions:

preview play-button

7. Company merch ideas

Used to increase brand awareness, treat customers, and motivate teams, there’s a reason why company merch never gets old. Even better if it’s functional and made of quality material. Let’s look at some examples.

Notebooks

Notebooks always come in handy for quick notes or doodles. They’re also one of the most popular company merch items.

To keep it simple, just add your brand’s name and color scheme, and your work is done. Want to make it more creative? Use custom artwork that communicates your company’s values. And, if you really want to impress, make it part of a swag bag.

a person holding a spiral bound notebook

Source: Printful

Product suggestions:

Keychains

Personalized with a logo or slogan, engraved keychains make durable, classy company gifts for customers or employees.

keychain merch

Source: epromos

Pins

Yes, pins are still in. And they’re an affordable, fun way of showing off your brand.

custom pins merch

Source: Pin it up

8. Team merch ideas

Besides helping distinguish players on the field, sports uniforms also help strengthen the team’s bond and uplift their spirit. The same logic applies to team merch. Let’s explore the options.

Hoodies

Hoodies showcase pride for your team. And with a comfortable and modern style,  they’re practical additions to casual wardrobes.

And how can we talk about team merch without bringing the NBA into the conversation?

 

Product suggestions:

Bomber jackets

These versatile jackets can definitely bring a powerful energy to your team. Add your team’s name, emblem, and colors to customize fashionable bomber jackets—just like the Pittsburgh Steelers did.

bomber jacket merch

Source: Fanatics

Product suggestions:

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Sweatshirts

Sweatshirts and sweatpants are great for exercising, but they also make for comfy leisure attire. 

Customize them with your team’s branding, and let the fans show off their pride.

team sweatshirt

Source: MLB Shop

Product suggestions:

Sports jerseys

Sports jerseys are another way to showcase team spirit. Design your own for your team or fans.

spots jersey merch

Source: World Soccer Shop

Product suggestions:

Duffle bags

It doesn’t matter what your sport is, a duffle bag always comes in handy to bring everything you need to the game.

a green duffel bag with black straps

Source: celticsstore.com

Product suggestions:

Caps

Get your head in the game with personalized caps. Use embroidery to highlight your team’s logo in style.

a beige hat with a logo on it

New York Yankees Cap. Source: New Era Cap 

Product suggestions:

9. School merch ideas

School merch is a popular niche that includes school apparel and accessories for children, teenagers, young adults, and teachers.

From kindergarten to college, students are looking for unique items to express their personality and identify as part of a group.

Whether you’re promoting your school or have a school merch brand, here are some creative merch ideas to include in your store.

Read next: Back-to-school marketing ideas

Hoodies

Hoodies are a true wardrobe must-have for students of all ages. They can also represent school or club affinity.

You can keep it simple (school names, mascots, slogans, etc.) or make original designs embracing the student lifestyle.

a woman in a red sweatshirt

Source: The Cornell Store

Product suggestions:

Backpacks

You probably remember feeling excited to show your friends your new favorite backpack—and I bet it had your favorite teen star or animated character printed on it.

Need inspiration? Check out this backpack with references to a BTS song—school merch that K-pop fans would love.

backpack merch

Source: SugarPunkShop

Product suggestions:

Laptop cases

Laptop cases are a smart product choice for any school merch collection. They’re practical and easy to customize, and the best part: they’re perfect for repping your school. Think about them as a way to create a sense of belonging with classmates, teachers, and the wider community.

laptop case merch

Source: LSU Tigers store

Product suggestions:

Notebooks

This might not be a groundbreaking idea, but the classics are classics for a reason. Notebooks are school essentials that most students need. A pro tip: create a design series, so customers will want to get the entire collection.

10. Sorority merch ideas 

Joining a sorority is exciting. As a member, you get to show off your Greek letters anywhere you want: on apparel, stationary, or decorative products. Let’s take a look at some sorority merch options.

And yes, you can also steal some of these ideas to create awesome frat merch.

Bomber jackets

Bomber jackets regained popularity as both high-end designers and streetwear brands started to reinterpret this classic piece in the 2010s.

Here’s my advice for rocking your sorority jacket: try embroidery for a bold effect and premium look.

sorority merch

Source: Pinterest

Product suggestions:

Flags

You can always use flags for their traditional purposes, but they can also be used as wall art.

When designing flags for your sorority, don’t be afraid of using fun graphic backgrounds. Make them colorful and flashy!

sorority merch flag

Source: Etsy

Product suggestions:

Patches

Custom patches are all about that ’90s aesthetic but align with a contemporary concept: upcycling. T-shirts, hats, jackets, denim, backpacks, tote bags—any piece can get a new life with patch customization.

custom patches merch

Source: Pinterest

Product suggestions:

Coasters

A good design has the power to transform this everyday item into an Instagrammable decorative piece. Custom coaster sets can light up desk spaces or common areas.

sorority coasters

Source: Mads Studio & Co.

Product suggestions:

Mugs

Mugs are practical and versatile iteams that can help members feel as part of the group. 

Keep it simple with your sorority’s Greek letters, motto, or pledge (or create original designs).

sorority mug idea

Source: Zeta Tau Alpha

Product suggestions:

Water bottles

Water bottles make for great sorority merch because they’re practical, promote unity, and can be customized with sorority colors and logos. Plus, they align with eco-friendly values, promoting a positive message both within the sorority and across campus.

sorority water bottles

Source: Etsy

Product suggestions:

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Time to create your own merch

Now that you know what’s available, it’s time to get to work.

The key is to offer authentic, high-quality items that reflect your brand’s identity and resonate with your followers. With options ranging from apparel to accessories, choose products that your audience will like and find useful. 

Print-on-demand can streamline the process, allowing you to offer a wide range of items without large upfront investments or inventory. 

We hope this list has inspired you to create your own merch. Good luck, and let us know how it goes in the comments!

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By Gabriela Martinez on Apr 1, 2024

Gabriela Martinez

Guest author

Gabriela is a creative copywriter, professional blogger, and passionate content marketer with experience in publicity agencies and international companies. She loves sharing her ideas and new trends to bring inspiration to everyone around her.

Gabriela is a creative copywriter, professional blogger, and passionate content marketer with experience in publicity agencies and international companies. She loves sharing her ideas and new trends to bring inspiration to everyone around her.