16 Design Trends For Your Custom Merch

June 3, 2022

Ready to design your own merch? Get inspired with these 16 memorable design trends.

When it’s time to dazzle your customers, impress your VIPs, and award your employees, knowing what’s hot and what’s not is vital. And while trends seem to come and go in waves, knowing what to invest in for timeless, sustainable gift options may feel overwhelming. The good news is while some trends may have seen their last day in 2022, (we’re looking at you skinny jeans), other design styles, like tie-dye and color blocking are still blazing trails.   

Nothing says thank you like custom merchandise for business gifts that are on-trend and coveted by your recipient. From cool t shirt designs that sell to sustainable drinkware and more, investing in swag for your business is a great way to increase your marketing exposure. For the best product swag and creative t shirt design ideas, check out our curated list that features the top styles you’ll continue seeing in the upcoming year. 

16 Design and Merch Trends For Your Custom Swag

1. Geometric 

Ready to show off your company’s brand? The best t shirt merch design options are fun and colorful. Simple shapes like squares, circles, and stripes make notice-me patterns when shown on repeat. For product swag that won’t overshadow your logo, choose a minimal color with sunny hues like these Geo Swim Shorts from Urban Outfitters. 

Some swag or even brands call for a more subdued look. If that’s the case, you can still incorporate the fun with geo-loving shapes, like these Double Wall Groovy cups from Poketo. 

Even a plain white backdrop gets an instant uplift with colorful shapes, as shown in these Poketo dinner plates.    

Photos courtesy of Urban Outfitters and Poketo 

2. Color Blocking

Why settle with just one color when you can show off your brand with two or three. In 2022, it’s all about brilliant color combos and modern designs. So grab your creative brand guidelines, choose your primary and secondary colors, and get inspired with t-shirt design ideas that include color-blocking. Best of all this works for both your zoomies and boomers alike. 

Whether you keep it modern and minimal with the same color in different shades or go bold, like these two-tone color-blocking socks from Escuyer or the custom waist pack, the choice is yours. And, for styles somewhere in the middle, you could choose to use color blocking in large spaces the like exterior and interior panels of a jacket. To bring it together add your complementary color to the accent pieces, like shown here on this custom jacket’s zippers and pockets. 

In addition to a cool design, choose quality products and apparel as custom merchandise for business. Talk to your Gemnote rep for more reputable brands and swag for customizing. 


Photo courtesy of Lacoste. Also Shown: Custom waist pack and jacket, and Escuyer socks. 

3. Tie dye 

The sixties are calling, or at least in the form of multi hues and tie-dyes. And, if you are looking to design band merch online, we’re all for incorporating it as well. 

Looking to design your own merch hoodie or introduce trending t shirt designs to your swag store? Tie-dye is a fun way to transform your custom merchandise for business into the trend-forward swag. When it comes to investing in your items for your company, it’s best to go with the top branded merchandise companies. This way you can ensure great results on all of your custom swag. 

In addition, top branded merchandise companies that specialize in customization, like Gemnote, can help you broaden your collection of swag product offerings no matter what trend you are looking to incorporate. For example, tie-dye isn’t just for apparel. You can find accessories, and even chocolate, that features these whimsical color treatments. 

Love the tie-dye look and feel for your unique graphic t-shirts, but are worried it might be too busy? You can always use muted soft colors so your logo stands out, like the tie-dye Adidas socks shown below from Urban Outfitters. For an even less vibrant take on tie-dye, choose one neutral color, like this tie-dye sweatshirt from Bella Canvas. 

Photo courtesy of Urban Outfitter. Also shown: Bella Canvas sweatshirt and Compartes Chocolate.

For more creative t shirt design ideas using tie-dye, check out our blog, Best Custom Made Tie-Dye Hoodies & Shirts. For additional ideas for trending shirts, apparel, and accessories in your budget, talk to your Gemnote Rep.

4. 80s Neon 

The nostalgia of the 80s brings funky patterns, bold neons, and a playful vibe to your swag. Popular 80s products feature things we’ve all but forgotten, like household sewing machines, as well as some gems like fanny packs, which are trending once again. 

Leave your mark (in the form of a customized logo that is!) with 80s-inspired swag including unique graphic t-shirts, bright socks, and neon drinkware. Tell your design team you want to hone in on the notice-me designs that definitely stand out in a crowded marketplace. 

For “design my own merch” styles that won’t blow your budget, ask your Gemnote Rep how you can save on your orders that are purchased in bulk. Have a costume event coming up? Let your 80s swag dub as event giveaways. Just don’t forget to customize cool t shirt designs with your event logo in bold neons for the ultimate parting gifts. 

Photos courtesy of Aimé Leon Dore and Los Angelos Apparel. Also shown: H2Go Venture Stainless Steel Tumbler.

5. 90s Everything

Just one look in stores and you’ll see that the 90s are another decade that we are stealing design inspiration from these days. It’s a time when Friends became our family and Microsoft saved Apple from near bankruptcy. And as far as 90’s fashion trends go, style favorites like slides, bucket hats, fanny packs (again), bold colors, and cheeky stickers, are back on top.  

The great thing about bucket hats, retro coolers, and colorful 90s stickers (like the ones below) is that they can all be customized with your branding, is not only are they on trend but they’re perfect for summer too. For creative t shirt design ideas with a 90s vibe, try crop styles, graphic tees with retro bands and more.  

When it comes to hats, you can have fun with prints and colors like this one from Aimé Leon Dore, or go modern. And while DIY bucket hat ideas are out there, when it comes to creating a branded look for your business, Gemnote can help! 

Photo courtesy of Urban Outfitters and Aimé Leon Dore. Also shown: Custom Stickers

6. 2000s Inspo 

Another decade brings more nostalgic memories and a fun comeback for trends. From escaping the Y2K bug to baby tees, tons of denim (including the low rise), rugby shirts, trucker hats, and so mch more, there was a lot to celebrate. 

Buy design for merch or create your own. Either way, you’ll love finding t-shirt design ideas centered around a 2000s theme. Whether you opt for designer t-shirts or a more nondescript, yet quality shirt is up to you. 

Contact your Gemnote Rep for the best design merchandise for business including popular t-shirt brands and designer t-shirts that are in your budget. 

Photos courtesy of Urban Outfitters 

7. Logos on Repeat

Love your logo? You should! It’s the foundation of your brand identity and the first impression. Regardless if your logo is brand spanking new or could be considered vintage, there’s nothing wrong with showing it off! 

Take a little creative liberties like A24 did with their customized towel and tote bag, or keep it simple and straightforward like like Baggu’s popular logo keychain. Either way, it’s an on trend addition to your swag store. 

Logos on repeat can—and should— be used as cool t shirt designs for another merch item. Whether you choose to feature it with popular t-shirt brands or a generic style is up to you. Either way, your logo will take center stage.  

Photo courtesy of Baggu and A24

8. Gradients

There’s something about gradients that can spark memories of gorgeous sunrises and breathtaking sunsets. If your logo already features a gradient, creating cool design merchandise for business that highlights this trend is an easy success. 

Just one look at Instagrams colorful gradient logo and you know it represents a fun brand. The company went from a brown camera logo to its current gradient masterpiece in 2016 and we can’t think of anything more suiting! 

If Instagram’s palette is too bright for your swag, you can still opt for trending t shirt designs that feature a more toned down approach by using neutrals or a single color variation similar to the blue puzzle featured below from Areaware.   

To spice up your design, you can also showcase a gradient within your logo, like the Champion hoodie from Urban Outfitters. Another example is the Nasa long sleeve tee which also emphasizes the trend for unique graphic t-shirts. 

Photo courtesy of Urban Outfitters and Areaware

9. Matte Hues

For merch t shirt design trends, appliances, and even make up, mattes are still trending in 2022! 

While matte black cars have been trending for a couple of years now, the matte look still feels contemporary and fresh in 2022. Plus, when it comes to great customized swag, it offers the perfect for back drop for adding your logo.  

Ready to design merch to sell? Home items incorporating matte hues are perfect for complementing any decor options. Talk to your Gemnote Rep for customization options. 

Shown: Vitruvi Diffuser, Kinto Tumbler, and  Fellow Stagg EKG+ Electric Kettle

10. Metallics 

Metallic accents offer cool designs for shirts as well as home and office items. From quality pens, like the Pocketo Slim Metallic style, shown below to colorful book ends and drinkware in endless options of colors, designing with metallic hues offers endless options. 

Want to incorporate metallic into your graphic design? Talk to your creative team about design options for your branding. If your looking for metallic screen printing ideas for t shirt designs that sell or even home products, Gemnote can help you with all your swag customization needs. 

You can even find design merch online free, just make sure you use a quality merch maker so your brand doesn’t suffer. 

Shown: Classic Slim Pen from Pocketo and Areaware Bookends

11. Shimmer 

A little shimmer adds a lot of fun! While you may think if shimmer as being juvenile or saved for special occasions like New Years Eve, when it comes to clever designs, these merch products prove they can shine day or night regardless of the season. 

Shimmer is another great design trend for customized t shirt designs that sell. In addition, you’ll find quality drinkware from prominent brands like Corkcicle and Swig whose products will help your brand shine!  

Shown: Corkcicle Canteen and Swig Tumbler

12. Camo

Does camo ever completely go out of style? We think not! Whether it’s a strategic choice for hunters or a fashion statement, the camo print is constantly coming back again. 

For t shirt designs that sell incorporating camo into your logo or all over is a fun way to stand out. For your swag store, stock favorites like Performance Joggers from Vuori, customizable beanies and lunch totes, for swag merch your employees will love. 

Performance Joggers: Photo courtesy of Vuori. Also shown: Customizable Beanie and Nona Insulated Tote.  

13. Pattern Play

Play up the patters on home decor, organizational items, trending shirts and other apparel. Whether it’s an icon that’s prominent in your marketing, a part of your creative assets, or even something specific to your event logo, patterns are a fun way to create unforgettable swag. 


Trending for 2022, patterns are also a great way to add in color. Whether you decide to infuse tone on tone colors or accents or go all out, there’s no limit to the swag options or styles you have available. Talk your Gemnote Rep for a curated list. 


Photo courtesy of Urban Outfitters and Baggu

14. Ombré

Ombré is another fun trend you can incorporate into your business swag. With its translucent effect it offers an instant update to your swag game. 

On apparel, like these trending shirts from Marine Layer, it’s an easy way to add a little color (or a lot) to your giveaways. And, when added to double wall insulated drinkware, like these cups from Urban Outfitters, you get a no sweat cool summer vibe!

Photos courtesy of Marine Layer and Urban Outfitters

15. Rainbows

When it’s time to design merch to sell in your swag store or have on hand for giveaways, give your branding the love it deserves with a rainbow of colors. A literal, ROY G BIV color palette keeps it classic, while muted colors boast a laid back, contemporary vibe. 

However your company decides to highlight your brand, you ‘ll find a plethora of options for trending shirts, shorts and merch items you can customize in all your favorite hues. 

A spectrum of colors aren’t just for trending t shirt designs. Customizable markers also make great swag giveaways! 

Shown: Marine Layer Swing Tee and Pocketo Markers

16. Illusions

For t shirt merch design ideas that bring the fun and whimsy, illusions are worth checking out. With their intricate, strategically placed designs, illusions—also known as op art, have been a fun fun fashion trend for decades. 

Not only do they offer cool designs for shirts and hoodies (especially when paired with your logo!) but they also prompt the viewer do do a double take, since the design can be made to look as if it’s moving. 


Illusions make cool designs for shirts, as well as fabric totes, and even phone accessories. 

Shown: Pocketo X Caseify Phone Cover, Illusion Hoodie, and Baggu Trippy Checker Bag

With the help of merch design maker free programs, you can oftentimes see how your finished product will look. Just make sure your logo is placed on quality fabrics and products that uphold the integrity of your brand. For popular t-shirt brands as well as other merch trends and products, your Gemnote rep can show you a curated collection of items to fit your brand and your budget. 

Best Place To Design Merch

While there are many top branded merchandise companies on the market, when it’s time to choose one to help you with your branded merch and swag store items, don’t gamble your company’s reputation on just anyone. Choose a company like Gemnote that uses quality products from trusted brands and is a trusted industry expert when it comes to delivering the top trends.

Are you working on a similar project or campaign?