How to Design Trendy Summer Merch

In Creator success, Design tips by Danielle Pederson May 18, 2023

Summer is rapidly approaching and it’s time to get your summer merch ready! We’re talking totes, slides, tees, tanks, you name it!. 

 The following is a solid list of guidelines for creating trendy summer merch:

Color palettes. Unless you live somewhere chilly (like Alaska), or are a surfer (see below), go minimal with black. Summer is bright, not bleak! You will find endless advice online about how to combine white with various clothing items like shoes, accessories, slides, etc., so be mindful about your color palettes. White will go with almost anything depending on the style.. 

  • Candy Pastel Palettes.  Besides classic white, a fantastic alternate is a pastel palette, which goes with pretty much anything, including neutrals. If you’re an Instagram user, you’ve no doubt also seen minimal pastel pics gradually taking over in the last year or so. Watch for this trend to take over this summer. 

Product types: On your Spring Store, play around with different types of tees for different types of fans, from classic fit, tanks, v-necks, boyfriend tees, there are lots of different options. 

Bold and decorative typography: Summer is hot! And your merch font should be too! Typography encompasses scripts, graffiti styles, handwritten fonts, etc. Think footloose and fancy-free. If you’re not able to visualize it, check out this example.

  • Daring. If this is more your jam, use large and bold t-shirt designs to create impactful slogans. 
  • Strong & vivid. If you opt for this font route, you can accentuate your illustrations and graphics or create typography designs using decorative fonts.

When it comes to bold and decorative typography, it’s not just about being strong with the lettering but also about being super expressive. Hit it hard on the nose. In the world of bold, subtlety lives elsewhere. Employing these traits in your T-shirt designs (and all merch) will make people remember your brand. Think hard on how the colors and forms of your design aid the message you want to convey.

Surfer Prints. Surfers unite! Whether you’re a beach bum or just like tees with cute quotes, you can achieve the bohemian look a few different ways. Here’s an example of where black can work when paired with bright colors combinations. 

Tropical look: Don’t want the beach thing but still want to give your fans the tropical or “on holiday” look without even leaving the comfort of home? Floral print along with a splash of color is the way to go.. 

Psychedelic Look: Swirls, intense colors, free-flowing lines, paisley prints, and eye-catching graphics like kaleidoscopic patterns––along with messages of peace, love, nature, or other positive messaging in typography that is “groovy”––play a fun role in the psychedelic design trend.

  • Tie-dye is closely related enough to this style and is still on trend, so ride that popularity wave through Summer ‘23. 

Punk Aesthetics are back!  It’s a Punk Summer! You know the look! Tattoos. Piercings. Metal studs. It’s back big time, if it ever even left. Don’t overlook this trend because there’s serious mining to be done here. A punk design might include disorderly fonts, collages of mixed media, newspaper clippings, or anything else that shows off the raw and powerful style of punk. 

Surrealism. You know the place between reality, dreams and the unconscious mind? There’s a market there this summer. And it will most likely increase in today’s “reality” of AI and the Metaverse. Experiment with escapism and unimaginable landscapes. Your T-shirt doesn’t need to be the work of Salvador Dali, but by getting familiar with the art style, you have another weapon in your design arsenal. Surrealism is about appearing to not have a specific design intent. Let your imagination flow freely.

Mixed Media. We’re supposed to only have 2-4 hours of screen time a day. Yeah, right. Who does that nowadays? The truth is we are so intertwined with the digital world now, it’s about leaning into the future. What does this mean when it comes to designing merch? Fun illustrations. Brilliant colors. Odd patterns. All with the intent to stimulate that sense of imagination, sense of wonder within your fans, reminding them how much magic and creativity we all have within our own souls. You can choose to do this by mixing media:

  • Watercolor paintings combined with typography
  • Collage of graphic elements & photographs
  • Embroidery & screen printing
  • Hand-drawn illustrations combined with digital elements
  • Multi-layered designs using overlapping elements & transparencies
  • 3D designs & elements with flat graphic design

Tip: You can discover great mixed media designs & art pieces on Pinterest. You may find creating Pinterest boards for this trend and all the other ones you like in this list very useful.

Whether you place your summer designs on T-shirts or other popular products like slides, totes, hats and tumblers, take advantage of these trends! 

Was all or some of the above too overwhelming? Spring has a top notch design team to help you with merch design services
Check out our blog for more creator success tips.