Why is collegiate merch so expensive?

Why is Collegiate Merchandise So Expensive?

If you’ve ever looked at the price tag on a college hoodie and thought, “Am I being scammed?” you’re not alone. As someone who makes and sells collegiate merchandise, let me explain why your favorite college gear costs what it does—and why it’s not as simple as you might think.

The Profit Puzzle

When you buy collegiate merch, the money you spend is split among several parties:

  1. The Manufacturer: These are the folks who actually make the shirt, hat, or hoodie. They need to cover the costs of materials, labor, and overhead, plus make a profit to keep the lights on.
  2. The Retailer: Whether you’re buying from a campus store or online, the retailer gets a cut too. They have their own expenses, like rent, staff salaries, and shipping costs.
  3. The University: Your college doesn’t just let anyone slap their logo on a shirt. They charge a licensing fee—usually between 10-18%—for the use of their branding. This fee goes into funding various university programs and maintaining brand integrity.
  4. Conferences and Associations: If the merch mentions a specific conference, team, player, or coach, they also get a slice of the pie. Each entity has its own licensing fees, which add to the overall cost.

Why It All Adds Up

Each of these parties plays a vital role in bringing that piece of collegiate merch to your closet. The manufacturer ensures you get a high-quality product. The retailer makes it easy for you to find and purchase your gear. The university uses its share to support student programs, scholarships, and more. And conferences or players involved need to be compensated for their part in the brand’s appeal.

Think of it this way: when you buy collegiate merch, you’re not just buying a shirt. You’re supporting a whole ecosystem that includes your university, your favorite teams, and the people who make and sell these products. The next time you see a high price tag, remember that it reflects the quality and the multiple layers of support and licensing behind that product.

How Nudge Printing Makes a Difference

At Nudge Printing, we’ve streamlined this process to offer you better prices. By producing and selling the garments ourselves, we cut out the middleman. This means we can offer high-quality, officially licensed merchandise at a lower price. Our direct involvement in both production and retail allows us to maintain quality control while reducing costs for our customers.

So, while it might seem like collegiate merch is overpriced, knowing where your money goes can help you appreciate the true value of your purchase.

Nudge Printing Supply Chain Graphic


In short, the high cost of collegiate merchandise isn’t a scam—it’s a reflection of the numerous parties involved in its creation and sale. Each stakeholder—from the manufacturer to the university—plays a crucial role in delivering high-quality, officially licensed products to fans like you. And with companies like Nudge Printing cutting out the middleman, you can enjoy your favorite college gear at a more reasonable price.

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