It’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves at one time or another.

Glancing at a top-selling tshirt on Amazon that looks even less sophisticated than what a lizard holding a crayon could produce, I’ve frequently found myself wondering: “Why does this horrendously simple or downright ugly design have a BSR I could only dream of?”

In some cases, of course, ads, social media marketing, effective branding, unsavory business practices or other variables could be the driving force.

But in a surprisingly large number of instances, these “garbage” designs have one other common trait. They are purely and unapologetically “authentic.”

There’s a very high premium in the apparel space today on authenticity. People want tshirt and product messages that sound real and hit them straight in the feelings. They don’t want anything fluffed-up, filtered, or fabricated.

Let me give you an example.

Several of my best-selling products for 2022 across multiple print-on-demand platforms offer a very simple statement to the effect of “I’m running out of money.” In other words, the wearer / user of my design is being blunt and honest about their current financial situation.

The money niche today is dominated by designs that express how the wearer / user of a product is pursuing money, sacrificing comforts to become successful, or aspiring to obtain financial freedom. In previous years, leading trends in music and pop culture – specifically, the flashiness of wealth — were the prevailing trend. But not today.

Today, consumers aren’t embarrassed to showcase their flaws, foibles, and less-than-fabulous real-life struggles — not having much money, wanting to look better, trying to feel better, etc.

Many of POD’s simplest, text-only tshirts are also among the strongest POD sellers. But there’s a noticeably large number of these winners that fall into the category of tees that appeal to audiences wanting to be authentic, humble, and honest with themselves and others about a broad range of topics.

The longer I toil in POD, the deeper my understanding grows of the psychology of tshirt design and messaging. When you understand the moods and mindsets of the masses, you can achieve remarkable things through the simplest of measures.

The bottom line? The “garbage” designs that sell aren’t always garbage. In fact, many are brilliant in their simplicity because that very simplicity represents significance to a lot of people.

I believe the remainder of 2022 will be dominated by authentic messaging across dozens of massively profitable POD niches. And there are huge opportunities everywhere in these spaces!

There are a million things you can do to build a successful POD business right now, but near the top of your list should be to consistently express an authentic voice with your product messaging when possible and appropriate.
People want that. And they will buy it.