From the appropriately named T in the Park and V Festival to smaller events such as ArcTanGent and 2000trees, the summer music festivals scene is synonymous with wearable merchandise

The Dillinger Escape Plan at ArcTanGent Festival. Credit: Joe Singh

In 2014, 3.5 million people went to a festival in the UK [UK Music]. Thirty percent of attendees that year bought an official festival T-shirt, and 20% bought an official band T-shirt [UK Festival Awards]. All in all, the festival sector is an extremely attractive proposition to garment decorators.

Goc O’Callaghan, one of the founders of the four-year-old math-rock (and post-rock and noise-rock and everything else in between) festival ArcTanGent and the person in charge of merchandising, says that they sell “an awful lot” of merchandise at the festival. Each year a new designer works with the festival to come up with a new T-shirt for that year’s event. “It has to have a collectability about it so we make sure that we are printing on a high quality T-shirt,” explains Goc, which is why she uses Bella+Canvas for the T-shirts and Just Hoods by AWDis for the hoodies – the JH001, to be precise. “I didn’t want to be printing on heavy, cheap T-shirts, as to me it shouts fake knock-off merch that you find outside a venue. We pride ourselves on quality and value for money.”

“It’s very important to have branded festival T-shirt,” agrees Rob Scarlett, one of the founders and directors of 2000trees Festival, which uses Gildan Softstyle T-shirts and AWDis hoodies for the official festival merch. “People need to be able to own a small part of the festival, take it home and make it theirs.”

ArcTanGent is the sister festival of 2000trees, an underground rock and indie festival that takes place in the Cotswolds Hills and has been running since 2007. Staff get promo tees to help visitors identify them, as well as being one of the incentives offered to them for volunteering, as Rob explains: “The merch garments we offer staff are very low-end, brightly coloured T-shirts. We print about 200 of them in various sizes.” The main factor that guides the choice of tees is, says Rob bluntly, price. “They are always branded with the 2000trees logo. This helps them to become brand ambassadors outside of the festival.”

ArcTanGent is a 5,000 capacity, three-day festival with a loyal following. For those looking to supply merch to a festival such as this (Awesome Merchandise in Leeds currently provides the merch for both), Goc says: “From a design perspective, make sure that there are clear guidelines on artwork sizes or that there are template documents available so someone can just go on to the website and download and produce the artwork so it’s print ready. If it’s possible, have a digital proof approval process as it really speeds things up, and be willing to potentially do a one-off print to see if it’s good enough. That’s what Awesome did for me on a couple of things.”

Rob’s advice is to be versatile and transparent, adding: “Be cheaper than everyone else! Seriously though, you have to be competitive. You need to offer better colours and more variety without MOQs (minimum order quantities) being crazy.”