Exclusive: Interview with Billy from Absolute Merch

It’s Tuesday afternoon and you’re meeting your pals for lunch – you’re dying to wear that new t-shirt you ordered online but it’s more of a Friday night look. Or, it’s Friday night and you’re putting on your go-to jeans and the shirt you ordered just isn’t giving you ‘going out vibes’. It happens to the best of us, and it seems to happen often when band merch is concerned.

There’s nothing like going to watch your favorite band perform live and seeing that their t-shirts aren’t exactly dying to be worn. It’s a rite of passage to grab a shirt from a show you’ve attended, but often times, those shirts end up hung up in our closets just collecting dust.

That’s where Absolute Merch comes in.

Absolute Merch is a clothing company that aims to be at the forefront of the all-encompassing look. They want to be your go-to for shirts, not just for lunch or coffee and not just for dinner and drinks – but for both, for all of it. You can wear their shirts with jeans, mini skirts, tied up over slip dresses, and paired with your favorite kicks. There are snapbacks, beanies, and hoodies – not to mention shorts, leggings, and cutoffs too. There’s something for everyone, and it’s incredibly stylish.

We got to chat with Billy, the CEO of Absolute Merch and he told us more about

You want to create a lifestyle rather than be a company that just creates shirts – why is this important to you?
Anybody can make a shirt really. I want to create something great. Not only for our brand but for the community of kids who wear the tees. Any brand with any sort of longevity has been much more than just selling shirts and I want to be the first merch company that truly becomes it’s own brand as opposed to just another outlet to buy some band shirts.

Do you wear the lines yourself? What is your favorite thing about the shirts you own?
I’m actually currently wearing a rad acid wash hoodie sample we did for a huge client earlier this year. The goal is to create items that go way above and beyond just a band logo printed on a t-shirt. Most items we make have to pass the ‘Would I want to wear this?’ test as consumers want more. If they are going to spend 25 bucks on a shirt, they want something that they can not only wear to a show but also wear out with their friends later that night and actually be fashionable. My favorite thing about the shirts that I own as well as many of them that we sell are that they are super unique. We usually experiment around with ideas that have never been done when coming up with new items so I reap the benefits and keep the samples for my personal wardrobe.

Why 72-hour sales?
This accomplishes a few things. First, it really creates a unique and cool experience for the fans. It gives them the opportunity to take part i the creation of an item that’s special and unique to the band only and it won’t ever be available again. It goes back to the idea of wanting to create an experience for the fans. Anybody can go on a band’s merch store and buy some standard tees but taking part in picking up a limited, and usually one of a kind item from your favorite band, just makes that whole experience so much more special. For lots of these sales, we usually work direct with the band to create other experiences for the fans. Like, the first X amount of buyers get a phone call from the band or hand written notes, etc…Just trying to create something that always goes beyond the standard experience.

You’ve worked with some big names, like Pierce the Veil, how did you get your name out there?
Word had just been getting around in the industry that we had the opportunity to curate a rad custom shirt around the tour art for the ‘Rest In Space Tour’ and it turned out perfect! We’ve kind of based our whole company marketing model off of ‘If you build it they will come’ motto. We just focus on putting out the highest quality, most premium merch and in time as word has spread, it got us to the point where most of our big name clients have ended up coming to us and it’s been pretty incredible and extremely humbling, to be honest.

What has been your most unique line so far?
It’s hard to say, there have been a ton. I’m personally a huge fan of the last line we actually curated for The Color Morale. It included a rad bleached snapback hat which we had never done and a few really cool new custom items. It felt like we dropped a new clothing line as opposed to putting together merch for a band. We also just got to produce 14 different custom dyed items for a pop-up shop between V Files and Mountain Dew at Coachella this year. So, while we didn’t design that, on the actual production side of things, that might be one of the most unique and challenging things we’ve done.

You want to build a community of creators, how do people get involved in this?
Once we stop creating, then what else do we have? The most fun part of doing merch is the constant challenge to create something better than what you just did. We’re trying to bring as many new creators together as possible under the AM umbrella and continually look to expand it. We have about 12 ‘go-to’ designers we work closely with and a small, but extremely talented group of photographers and videographers we also work with to create content. Most of them that we’ve found through either cold emails or introductions. We’re always looking to grow this team. If you’re a creative mind and want to get involved email us at info@absolutemerch.com and we’ll take it from there!

You started from the ground up, what was the most difficult part?
We started this doing merch for one band and it’s grown over the last few years to be an actual staple in the industry. A few years ago I couldn’t have dreamed of this. The best piece of advice I got early in my career was from an amazing manager, Mike Kaminsky (who is actually now part of the company) and he told me the best thing you can ever do for your clients is to always stay proactive as opposed to becoming reactive. As the business grows, I’ve found it very easy to fall into old habits and just react to what is going on and the new business coming in. It’s currently Easter Sunday and I’m at the office writing this as well as working on the new brand we’re launching this summer, VAKATE. Finding the ability to break out of the reactive cycle and continue to push forward with new ideas and create new opportunities is what I think has really helped the company continue to grow and push the limits of what band merch can actually be. Yet at times, this has also been the most difficult challenge.

Last, what is a go-to item from Absolute Merch?
We just launched the premiere section of our website which features, what I feel, are the coolest and most exclusive products we offer. Most of them are limited drops though so the collection is constantly changing. I’d recommend once every week or so just revisiting the new premiere collection and you can’t go wrong with any of those items!

After our chat with Billy, it’s hard not to want to go buy items from Absolute Merch. When a company puts that much effort, passion, and sense of individuality in what they create – as well as focus so much on their clients – well, that’s all we could ask for as consumers.

If you want to check out the merch for yourself, head to Absolute Merch online and pick up a few pieces yourself. They’re the perfect addition to your wardrobe, we promise.

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Written by Ashley

I'm a bit of a writer, a bit of a photographer, and just a bit in love with One Direction. Find me on twitter at @CelebMixAshley