Connecting To Hero Styles

April 26, 2024

“I hope more people can forsake the rugged individualism that’s fostered on the big screen while choosing to be the quiet and steady hero for everyone who crosses their path.”
— Bonnie Jean Feldkamp — “Choose To Be an Everyday Hero in 2024

When we last talked about our hero styles, there were a couple types of hero we mentioned. There’s the onscreen action hero — bombastic and fiercely individual — and the everyday hero. Everyday heroes are often quiet, focused and reliable.

While our hero styles can sometimes be as bright and loud as a superhero streaking across the sky, more often they’re like the everyday hero. They are the pieces we wear time and again because they feel good and they say something about us. They don’t have to be flashy to quietly build connections between people and ideas. As Melissa Hirsch says in “Our Merch, Ourselves”: “That’s the type of connection I want to cultivate: the impulse to bond over the things that light me up, that bring me closer to other people. That sentiment doesn’t make for a particularly cool or catchy piece of merch, but communicating it plainly seems a project crucially worth investing in.”

These aren’t the heroes that songs are written about…or are they? Let’s take a fresh look at some new hero styles and how we can celebrate the core pieces we can’t live without for the work they do every day.

There Goes My Hero

There Goes My Hero

Merch has always been closely tied to memories. As a recent survey from EverythingBranded discovered: “Nearly a third of consumers (32%) say they’d purposefully plan to arrive at an event early just to make sure they get the item they want” and many others buy their tickets for seats with easy access to a merch booth.

There’s so much we can learn from the lengths Taylor Swift fans went to in getting merch during her 2023 Eras Tour. They camped out for hours and planned their concert around it. “Friends Sophia Taylor and Mary Fanslau…waited hours for merchandise and they joked that they’ll be wearing it every day.” After waiting that long for it, I wouldn’t be surprised if they really were wearing the coveted blue crewneck sweatshirt (exclusive to the tour) every chance they get.

Like that blue sweatshirt, any clothing that connects to a shared experience, a beloved fandom or a passionate belief is almost guaranteed to become a hero style, worn with pride as often as possible. Minimalist, familiar pieces with a refreshed look provide the best platform for decoration and something that anyone can wear. The Mercer+Mettle Stretch Jersey Crew or Polo present a great everyday silhouette with style-forward details. The Stretch Crepe Crew or Textured Crepe Blouse are versatile favorites that can fit in just about anywhere. And if you’re going for the full Swiftie package, you’d better include a Cardigan. Just sayin’.

Working Class Heroes

Working Class Heroes

When a desk and a dedicated cubicle are optional, what do you expect when you start a new job? Beyond a steady paycheck and a healthy benefits package, your next thought could very well be “They’d better have some good merch.”

If “merch” was your answer, you’re far from the only one. According to the same EverythingBranded survey of consumers “over one-quarter (26%) actually expect it from their employers,” while 19% of these would choose one job over another based on the merch they would receive. Employers looking to capitalize on this to attract and retain the best talent should pay attention to the kinds of gifts employees crave — 60% are looking for apparel, while electronics and home goods are also high on their wish list.

For prospective recruits and current employee gifting, looking put-together with elevated styles that incorporate a little bit of fun are the way to go. The Daybreak button-downs, in short sleeves or long sleeves, blend elevated style and relaxed vibes well. The Stretch Jersey Long Sleeve Shirt from Mercer+Mettle is available in fun diamond color patterns and the Relaxed Knit Blazer can add a layer of comfortable polish to any outfit.

Holding Out For Our Heroes

Holding Out For Our Heroes

Both employees and fans are paying more attention to sustainability in everything they do. Today’s prospective hires will often research a company’s record on sustainability, and of course that extends to the merch they offer.

The most sustainable shirt you have is the one you never throw away – literally the hero style you can’t live without. So while choices like recycled and organic fabrics are important, durable clothing that lasts and will be used is also more sustainable than a throwaway t-shirt. Consider brands like Carhartt, The North Face or Nike for pieces that will hold their value over the long haul.

When looking for styles that feel great and do good, anything in the District RE Collection fits the bill, with fabric that’s 100% recycled and never re-dyed. Tees and fleece from Allmade, made from a blend of recycled polyester, organic cotton and natural modal, are also a standout choice for sustainability. And I can’t leave out the C-FREE collection, with a growing selection of certified carbon-neutral styles.

Hero styles can be anything from the shirt you wear every day to the bag that goes with you everywhere. When it comes to promo appreal, styles like these are worth singing about. Next month we’ll be taking a look at the generation that’s influencing spend even before they can make the purchases themselves: the Zalphas. I hope you’ll join us!