Reformation is bringing sustainability to the $400 million market for concert merch

Up until now, much of the eco conversation about how to greenify a concert tour has focused on the aspect of travel. Major musical acts from Coldplay to Billie Eilish, Radiohead, and U2 have been vocal about rejigging the order of cities they tour to lessen the carbon impact, swapping out gas guzzling tour buses for lighter, more fuel-efficient, or electric options, and by asking their thousands of fans to take public transportation to shows.

But concert merchandise, which pre-pandemic was a $414 million market in the US, has mainly sat on the sidelines of the dialogue. Sustainable fashion label Reformation, known for its carbon neutral clothing, hopes to change that with its new program called “We’re With the Band,” which works directly with artists to offer more eco-friendly concert merchandise.

“While we know that artists don’t want to contribute to fashion’s environmental impact, t-shirts and overall merchandise sales are a critical touchpoint for musicians to connect with fans that cultivates a larger sense of community,” the brand said. The goal is “to create tour merch that looks good on you, while actually being good to the planet.”

The Reformation program is due to launch this summer with British singer Suki Waterhouse, featuring three new versions of the brand’s Muse Tee, made from a ribbed cotton fabric that’s 97% organic. The tees will feature graphics of Waterhouse’s popular songs like “Melrose Meltdown” and “Good Looking” and will retail for $48. More collaborations with more artists are underway, Reformation says.

In 2019, 4.6 million T-shirts were sold at shows in the US, according to AtVenu, which tracks sales of artist tickets and merchandise. Shirts alone accounted for half of total merch sales. Although sales tumbled during the pandemic, Rolling Stone reports that the return of live events this year has “twice as many” artists looking to get back on the road.

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