When it comes to branded items you can sell online or at your shows, there’s never been more options. Getting your band-name printed on stuff is easier and cheaper than it’s ever been, and with big-time bands selling crazy stuff like soap, beer, food, skateboards, incense, and almost anything else with a little spare room for a logo, the merch-diversity bar has been raised significantly in the last decade or so.
One item I’ve seen come and go over the years is band-branded undergarments. Sometimes you’ll see some boxers, but mostly we’re talking undies of the lady variety. For some bands, this almost seems obligatory: I bet you’d be more shocked if you learned that groups like Kiss and Mötley Crüe didn’t, at certain points in their career, offer up panties with their name on them.
But is every band a “pantie band”? Hardly. If you went to a Fleetwood Mac show and saw they were selling a pink satin g-string with Lindsey Buckingham’s face silkscreened on the front, you’d probably think Mick and the gang were straying a bit “off message.” But if you went to see whatever version of Ratt is touring right now and they were offering up logo-emblazoned studded pleather briefs for him and her, you might not blink an eye.
The strangest thing to me about the underwear-as-merch angle is that it essentially negates one of the biggest reasons you sell merch (aside from the money) and one of the biggest reasons people buy it: for the advertising. A fan wants to buy your t-shirt so she can wear it around and show people that she’s into cool music. You want her to buy it because – again, aside from the money in your pocket – you want her to wear it around as a mini-billboard for your cool music. With underwear, unless those yoga pants are more sheer than they should be, this part is lost on everyone but those given access to the skivvies.