Where's all the Apple logo merchandise?
November 28, 2006 10:20 AM   Subscribe

Why can't I buy an Apple-branded shirt? Or keychain? Or coffee-mug, or jacket?

Given its dedicated and growing fanbase, you'd think Apple Computer would be thrilled to have its legions walking through the malls and streets of the world wearing its logo.

But aside from the occasional gray-market resellers of trade show swag, there's not much in the way of Apple logo merchandise for the enthusiast to buy in between annual Stevenotes.

So, what gives? I know there's a store at the mothership, but why nothing at the Apple retail stores across the fruited plain?

(BTW, this post inspired by a listing of the Apple Store employee t-shirt slogans for the holiday season including this: "For a PC user it’s not a gift. It’s an intervention.")
posted by baltimore to Computers & Internet (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you were a real fan, you'd get a tattoo.

Steve probably doesn't want to "sully" the brand by putting the logo and things that AREN'T their signature products.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:39 AM on November 28, 2006

My guess is that it's related to branding, if they're logo is all over cheap plastic keychains, people might start to think of them as cheap. If the shirts and such involve hoops to jump through to get them, it also adds an air of exclusivity.
posted by drezdn at 10:48 AM on November 28, 2006

MacSurfShop used to sell Mac-centric shirts online, but they've since closed up shop. A pity, because I'd really really really love new Dogcow t-shirt.
posted by mkultra at 10:49 AM on November 28, 2006

They don't want just anyone wearing their logo, right? So, either they'd have to make the clothes expensive or limit their availability.

And I think a lot of their fan base would be turned off by an Apple "designer" clothes collection. I know I would.

So, they choose to only make their clothes available at tradeshows and in Cupertino. (And the shirts they sell in Cupertino have pretty small logos even--the apple is about 3/4 cm diameter.)
posted by jbb7 at 10:52 AM on November 28, 2006

Probably because precious floorspace is better put to use promoting high-margin electronics and providing counters for supporting the user experience. Giving it up for low-margin and comparatively tacky-looking displays for tchotchkes and garments would be high-maintenance and low-profit. It would also fulfill some negative stereotype of Apple's relationship to its customers.

The store in Cupertino has what amounts to a garments department that (when I visited five years ago) was at least as large as the electronics section. This was before the iPod.

Apple used to publish schwag gift catalogs for their sales representatives and distributors. I have no idea if they still do, or if it's online-only. If you have connections through a store or school you can try asking, or try hooking up with an Apple employee. I'm betting that it'll be easier to order from Ebay or Missing Bite instead. Most of Missing Bite's stuff is pretty old (G4 cube t-shirt?) but the white apple logo is not going to tie you down to a rapidly-obsoleted product.

Or you could buy a computer and get a couple white apple stickers to put on your favorite shirts.
posted by ardgedee at 10:56 AM on November 28, 2006

You could get some transfer sheets for your printer, print your own iron-on logo and do it yourself.
posted by routergirl at 11:13 AM on November 28, 2006

Sites like InsanelyGreatTees have lots of "Apple-inspired" t-shirts. They not have official Apple logos on them, they do have some nice geeky Mac-related things.
posted by DrSkrud at 11:17 AM on November 28, 2006

Long ago, Apple had a real store in Cupertino that had things like mousepads, keychains, pens and even calculators. I think this store got closed down in '96 (the "Dark Ages") following the whole Magical Return of His Jobsness / New Campus Construction thing.

MissingByte.com sells the "real deal" Apple logo stuff-- things from that old store as well as new promotional ephemera, bought in bulk and resold. They've got most anything you would want to buy...
posted by dmaterialized at 11:28 AM on November 28, 2006

It's here.
posted by kcm at 11:39 AM on November 28, 2006

Also, if you happen to know someone who used to work at the Apple store, they'll probably have dozens they'd be willing to part with. If you're interested, Mr. Mostly has a giant pile he's been thinking of ebaying/craigslisting just to get out of the house.
posted by mostlymartha at 11:46 AM on November 28, 2006

mkultra - if you get a lead on that new dogcow shirt, let me know. My husband has one that is older than the hills, and if I produced a nice new one, that would be quite a coup.
posted by pinky at 11:59 AM on November 28, 2006

spoke too soon - here are some unofficial shirts.
posted by pinky at 12:02 PM on November 28, 2006

Apple-logo merchandising is possibly not widely available because of Apple Corps pressure.
posted by meehawl at 12:12 PM on November 28, 2006

I have 3 shirts from Apple Store openings. Maybe if a new store opens nearby, you should head over there for the opening. Errr....that is, if they still give shirts out.
posted by Cog at 12:26 PM on November 28, 2006

Response by poster: I guess I could have worded this a bit more carefully.

Though I'd probably buy an Apple polo shirt or two if I could, I was really just wondering about the business decision by Apple to not pursue such an potentially lucrative path.

@ardgedee - the floor-space argument is true enough in the retail shops, but that doesn't explain why there's no mail order.

It's almost as if Steve is channeling the still-living spirit of a certain cartoonist.
posted by baltimore at 12:38 PM on November 28, 2006

Response by poster: A potentially lucrative path.

NOT AN potentially lucrative path.

posted by baltimore at 12:41 PM on November 28, 2006

Best answer: > ...wondering about the business decision by Apple

Fundamentally, Apple reserves these things for people in the trade: Staff, business partners, representatives, resellers, and so on. Selling to the hoi polloi would not make Apple much money and would dilute their value as schwag. So then Apple would have to make more, nicer schwag, costing more money. Where now a $15 polo shirt would do as a token, they would have to give a watch.
posted by ardgedee at 12:59 PM on November 28, 2006

I wonder some of the t-shirt wearing geeks are not the kind of people you want to be the public face of a supposedly "designer" brand. I know that the platform evangicals I've met (of any platform) have had a distinctly higher than usual tendancy to be the kind of person that is an embarrassment to the rest of the users, somewhat proportional with the zeal.

Presumably (hopefully) there is a less conspiratal reason though (such as meehawl's point).
posted by -harlequin- at 1:01 PM on November 28, 2006

ardgedee's answer makes a lot of sense to me
posted by -harlequin- at 1:07 PM on November 28, 2006

Also see Redlightrunner.com.
posted by designbot at 2:22 PM on November 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

How many Apple t-shirts do you want? I have a box of probably 50 various Apple t-shirts that I was going to sell on eBay or give away on Craigslist.
posted by drstein at 5:43 PM on November 28, 2006

Whoa, dang, I don't know if this thread is still being checked by drstein here, but I'd totally be all for taking at least one of those shirts off your hands. By all means, please drop me a line via either AIM (screen name = my username here) or email ([username]@gmail dot com)!
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:08 PM on November 28, 2006

they would have to give a watch.

if these are real, apple has given watches. they also took the functionality they didn't add to the ipod and put it in a carabiner. it does say a lot about the popularity of their brand. i doubt most people would buy microsoft shirts. in cases where this stuff is sold, i think it's usually licensed to someone else, like college or sports team apparel.
posted by snofoam at 10:17 AM on November 29, 2006

There are always some beautiful buttons and clothing in the "vintage Apple" section on eBay. Cooler than new and not too expensive...
posted by lorimer at 3:40 PM on November 29, 2006

FYI, the watches are real. I have an even older Apple watch, with the old System 7 era icon set.
posted by drstein at 5:04 PM on November 29, 2006

yea, if baltimore is where you live - only on the internet.

but if you get out to San Jose/Cupertino, the mothership store right outside the headquarters carries EVERYTHING. Maybe you can call them and see if they do mail order? maybe they can fax you a list - I guess call the headquarters and see if they can transfer you there - I've never called them so I have no idea. Good luck!
posted by jbelkin at 8:57 PM on November 29, 2006

Here is the information for the Company Store at One Infinite Loop.

It's not on the main retail store list.
posted by drstein at 9:16 PM on November 29, 2006

Perhaps this guy has some insight / could hook you up with some Apple items.
posted by SenshiNeko at 1:23 PM on November 30, 2006

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