How an indie Glasgow t-shirt vendor is disrupting the multi-billion dollar music scene

Since 2013, INK has been working with some of the biggest names in music, from Nirvana to Calvin Harris, to bring song lyric t-shirts to high street fashion retailers.
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An independent Glasgow outfit is finding a route to disrupt the multi-billion dollar music scene through the production of licensed song lyric t-shirts.

Called INK, the independently run company is currently working with some of the biggest names in the music industry, including the likes of Sony ATV, Universal and Warner Chappell to bring lyrics from some of the world’s biggest artists to high street fashion retail.

From Nirvana to Run DMC to TLC all the way through to The Wizard of Oz, INK specialises in printing iconic song lyrics on a range of apparel that in recent years has ‘disrupted bigger institutions,’ through retail placement in the likes of Primark.

INK was founded in 2005 by David Taylor, originally a small business designed to support Glasgow’s local music scene. A fortuitous meeting with EMI in 2010 saw the firm take the leap into the more corporate world, designing lyric and slogan t-shirts for artists like Calvin Harris.

However, it wasn’t until three years later, and weathering the collapse of both EMI and a retail partner it had in HMV, that Taylor and his team found distribution success and placement in Primark.

Today, INK has seen a growth in consumer demand for licensed apparel that in turn has helped the company grow and strengthen its relationships with publishers and distributors.

“I think the general appetite for slogan t-shirts and designs with type in them has always ben there,” Taylor tells Licensing.biz. “The difficulty is your doing a bit of official band merchandise without being able to use any official artwork or logos, so it’s about picking the right lyric that people will instantly associate with that song or band.”

INK is not the only specialist in the space, but is certainly becoming one of the scene’s biggest disruptors.

“When we first started working with Run DMC, we actually found out it cause all sorts of problems at Universal as Run DMC’s official merchandiser wasn’t too impressed,” describes Taylor.

“A couple of weeks later another Run DMC lyrics t-shirt range appeared in stores. It was funny for us, being this tiny company but disrupting these big institutions.”

Over the last six months, INK has seen a significant increase in the number of lyric t-shirt requests from buyers, something Taylor puts down to a result of bringing more buyers into the selection process itself.

As well as a current Christmas collection, the company is working on a new kids range using the Wizard of Oz licence as well as some classics such as The Troggs’ Wild Thing and The Temptations’ My Girl.

These may be poised to join Primark’s current top sellers No Scrubs and DJ Saved My Life in the coming months.

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