Friday, April 6, 2012

Custom Apparel Webstores Market to Brony Demographic

With so many new adult My Little Pony fans, including those who are part of the "Brony" phenomenon, there has been an increase in demand for T-shirts and apparel that sport pony images. In the past, collectors were lucky to see a handful of licensed clothing items at shops like Hot Topic, but now with custom to print online webstores like We Love Fine and Zazzle the designs and possibilities are endless. Both of these sites offer a plethora of pony designs and can slap them on shirts, bags, art prints and other things you didn't know you needed until you saw it decked out with Pinkie Pie or Rainbow Dash.

On We Love Fine, artists (professional and amateur) can submit designs for approval into the My Little Pony category. If the design is approved, the artist receives 20% of sales on items using their design for non licensed characters and 10% of the sale using licensed characters (aka MLP). Not a bad return for a graphic artist who has an idea for a My Little Pony shirt that may be popular with the "Brony" crowd. Especially considering that the artist has no overhead costs and doesn't have to deal with the hassle of contacting the property owner (in this case, Hasbro) for licensing rights to sell their design.

While this is great for those clamoring for merchandise displaying their favorite My Little Pony characters intertwined with witty remarks and memes, It leaves some of the non-Brony My Little Pony collectors feeling like the brand it morphing into something more adult themed than they would like. Images of happy ponies frolicking appear side by side with Game of Thrones parodies and robo ponies.

As an adult I can see the humor in these designs, yet something doesn't feel right about taking a My Little Pony character and dressing them up as Uma Thurman in Kill Bill while wielding a sword or placing them in other un-ponylike surroundings like this Hunger Games parody shirt.
I wonder if My Little Pony has become too accessible to customization and influence by Bronies.  Will we continue to see an increase in products and marketing geared to an older male demographic? What happens if the Bronies loose interest and trot into the sunset chasing the next popular fad?

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