When band merch goes mainstream: do you care?

We all remember where we were when One Direction’s Zayn Malik wore a Misfits T-shirt on stage, right? Probably not, but that didn’t stop the Internet having a royal strop about it.

Fashion Blogmaster, Sophie Eggleton, discusses that awkward moment a popstar wears a band t-shirt from a metal band they may or may not know. Where do you stand on the subject?

Before you join the army of people who are quick to express their disapproval at a member of One Direction wearing metal merch, perhaps you should consider some of the following factors.

Zayn Malik Misfits t-shirt

Okay, so Zayn was a member of the world’s biggest pop band, does this mean he only listens to or likes pop music? How many people only enjoy one defined genre of music? If, like most of us, he enjoys a varied selection of songs and music, which may include rock, why shouldn’t he wear a T-shirt that represents that?

How many times do you have to work with or on things in your job that don’t actually appeal or fit in with your own tastes and preferences? It’s not a rare occurrence…

Maybe, instead, we should question how we judge people on appearance, and what we believe to be the truth from the finished jigsaw we have constructed from the media’s portrayal of a person.


You don’t have to look alternative to appreciate rock music. Surely it shows confidence to dress exactly how you like, whether or not it fits into the scene of music you enjoy.

This is something I have personal experience of, too. It sounds ridiculous, but people are often surprised by or question my taste in heavy music because of my appearance. Apparently the fact that I have long blonde hair, that I am without ink or daring piercings, and often wear clothes that aren’t obviously linked to rock music, confuses people.

I can recall many times when people presumed I was a big pop fan (Westlife, to be precise) based on the way I look, spoke or acted. Not that there would be anything wrong with that either. I am very much someone who will enjoy a good song, whatever genre it happens to sit most comfortably in; I guess that’s what I am getting at…

If you want to wear or buy merchandise to display your passion for, or allegiance to, a band, then that is an awesome thing. If you are buying it from legitimate outlets you are helping to support them by aiding them financially, and also exist as a walking advert for the band whenever you don the merchanside.

These days merch is integral to many bands being able to fund their tours, and their survival. At the same time though, I don’t feel like you should feel like you have to wear it to prove your dedication. Like anything, it should be your choice what your wear, and the goal should be to just wear whatever makes you feel most comfortable.

I wonder if we are offended by the fact mainstream shops like Primark and Topshop sell these items because it somehow makes them less alternative, edgy or niche, and in turn reflects on where we feel we reside when we choose to wear our genuine rock tees.

Do we worry that it will mean street style will be saturated with these designs and they will no longer just belong to the authentic fans? Do we believe we have earned the right to showcase our love for these bands because we have attended the shows, and bought the songs, and that buying a tee from Topshop is just too damn easy? Does that mean we are a bit too possessive over the bands we love? An alternative argument could be that anything which spreads the word of a band we adore, surely can’t be a bad thing.

One aspect I personally believe to be very important is that the pieces we buy are fully licensed or bought from the band’s official outlets. It feels incredibly wrong that others should be allowed to cash in on the band’s success, or their flair at creating iconic T-Shirt designs.

From being behind-the-scenes and interviewing rock bands over the years, I have proof that many have a huge respect and love for well written pop music. Not too long ago, Gus of Young Guns tweeted his admiration for Taylor Swift’s writing. A member of YMA6 used to have a lot of love for JLS, and recently we have been treated to a 1D cover by Blitz Kids.

I think when you reach a level confidence in your own opinions, and worry less about what people will think of them, you are happy to admit your love for what many might consider a ‘guilty pleasure’. It may be about time we veto that phrase altogether – after all, if you enjoy a song, what’s guilty about that? (within reason, of course).

All things considered, I think it’s time we gained a little perspective. It was just a successful young guy wearing a T-Shirt, a very good T-shirt at that.

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Let Sophie know what you think at @SophieEggleton, and see more of her work at and