Who knew administrative branding could be so hot?
Normcore had its day, and menocore is still on trend, but the currents of pop culture have swapped brandless-ness for something a bit more unexpected: bureaucratic designerwear?
Streetwear brand Supreme made the govt. cool back in 2017 when they launched a limited edition collab with NYC’s MTA, the department in charge of the subway system (and famously bemoaned by all New Yorkers). The Supreme-covered cards later sold online for as much as $130 – quite a hike from the $2.75 per trip New Yorkers usually pay. Supreme’s willingness to join forces with ‘the man’ was a huge step for streetwear, a realm that had traditionally focused on rebelling against exactly these figures.
Since then, consumers have been all over other products tied to government agencies, a move towards government gear that’s been dubbed ‘
Take OnlyNY’s licensing deals with the NYC parks system, transportation departments, and sanitation system, for example. Big city dwellers have long loved repping their urban abodes, but going through the government to do so is definitely a new take.
And it’s not just a city-based trend, either. With the cosmos more on our minds than ever (is there even a way to escape the horoscope-verse anymore?), NASA’s merch is taking the market by (meteor shower) storm. NASA’s look also has an especially old-school feel, an appealing aesthetic for young shoppers looking to recycle and find vintage pieces, while also a comfortable feel for the older generations reminiscing on simpler times.
Mission-driven brands like Parks Projects are taking advantage of the consumer’s thirst for nostalgia with retro T-shirt designs and big name partners like National Geographic and the Sierra Club. Plus, they’re sending revenue straight back into the National Parks system to preserve and maintain what their products are celebrating.
Even the Post Office has looked into diversifying their income streams with their own gear. Snail mail may be out, but civicore is definitely trending.