We speak to industry veteran, Anthony Corsano about the phenomenon of the election T-shirt. Over his years in the business, he’s seen a whole host of different campaign designs come through for county, state, and even presidential elections. Here he is giving his two cents on the printing and power of the election tee.
What kind of election T-shirts are there?
Well, first are shirts that are ordered by the campaigners. Then you get into the fun aspect, or the crazy aspect, which is those who are buying T-shirts either in support of a candidate or in an attempt to totally destroy a candidate. But those can be crazy! And obviously with the last presidential campaign and subsequently thereafter, we had the craziest shirts coming through: from people who were going to go online to sell a ‘Make America Great Again’ T-shirt or a T-shirt that would totally destroy that concept.
What can be interesting about printing election T-shirts?
The interesting aspect for me in respect to that, believe it or not, is that you have to be a little bit cognizant when some election shirts are being printed and coming down the dryer. If you have a mixed group of political beliefs like we have here, you sometimes really have to step in and say to people "we're not here to comment on whether we agree with this shirt or not." I don't think anybody sees something coming down the dryer and thinks it’s attached to my view. But I do think things coming down the dryer prompt conversations on the floor that otherwise would not come about.
what do you notice about the style and design of election T-shirts?
I think there's a bit more consciousness around the production and buying aspect of them. Campaigners will call up and say something like: “We’re part of x campaign and we'd like [our shirts] to be made in the USA and produced in a union shop.” At which point, there's usually a chuckling on our end because we're not a union shop — and I'm not sure how many of the small to medium shops are unionized — and then we get also get into American-made aspect and the cost of that T-shirt... Very quickly, while the campaign would rightfully so want to support both made-in-USA and union-shops, one is cost-prohibitive and the other is difficult to find.
Do you feel there are any challenges surrounding election printing that you might not see with regular orders?
They're generally simple prints, generally white shirts, or of course red, white or blue with red, white or blue printing, for sure. Putting aside — as we will with every conversation — regardless of what side of the aisle you're on, look at the product being sold and worn by the current president, right? It's a very simple red hat with 'Make America Great Again' on it. It couldn't be more simple.
Any other interesting observations to note?
Quite honestly, for the t-shirt industry on election night - what with the last presidential election being as contentious as it was - it's really great for business. Unfortunately, the more madness that is attached to something, generally, the more people will feel the need to express themselves by putting it on apparel.