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The Best (and Worst) Tokyo 2020 Merch

Ah, merch. Any sports fan, concert goer, or former fangirl/fanboy is familiar with the allure of limited edition, commemorative logo gear. Because it’s for “a special event you want to remember,” there’s a decent chance you’ll be a bit more lenient when it comes to design, practicality, or even quality. 

With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics postponed, however, there’s been particular buzz around the merchandise, with fans and internet fiends alike wondering if this limited edition run will have higher value because of the 2020 date changing to 2021. While the jury’s still out on if you’ll be able to resell a $20 shirt for $50+ next year, we thought we’d compile a short list of some of the best (and worst) Tokyo 2020 merch we came across. And in the spirit of the Olympic games themselves, the judges (aka me) will give a score out of 10. Let’s find out if you and I would be on the same Olympic merch team!

Here are the contenders:
Source: Reddit

Starting off STRONG in the “other” category for Tokyo 2020 merch, we have these fire kimono/yukata sets with coordinated summer hats and matching getas. Not only is Japan the only country who could incorporate tradition, Olympic logos, and modern style on a kimono/yukata, but they also do it with flawless execution. Judges give them a 9.3/10.

Source: Anime News Network

Moving into the “headwear” category, this hat has me scratching my own head a bit… I get the concept, I do. There’s some heavy hitters on this cap, ranging from Naruto and Sailor Moon to Astro Boy and Goku. But what about Pikachu? Hello Kitty? Doraemon??? Beyond some confusing omissions, the design isn’t quite my favorite, especially on a trucker hat. I wouldn’t even know what I’d wear this to, let alone wear with. Judges give it a 4.2/10 (extra 0.2 because it also comes in black).

Source: Tokyo 2020 Official Online Shop

Somebody call Tom Nook, because this lantern hat is giving me major Animal Crossing vibes. I’m not entirely sure how this is to be styled, but I do appreciate the lantern inspiration? Kinda cute? Honestly, if someone wants to make a design for this hat in Animal Crossing, I think that would actually fare better than in real life. Judges give it a 5.1/10 (valued at approximately 1,040 bells).

Source: Amazon

Moving onto shirts! We’re off to an incredible start, folks. The design? Clean. The incorporation of the Olympic rings AND the year 2020 AND the Japanese flag? Iconic. If you’re a fan of commemorative logo shirts, this might be the one for you. Judges give it a 9.4/10!

Source: Tokyo 2020 Official Online Shop

Well, looks like all good things must come to an end. Some hype beasts might come for my life for not enjoying this streetwear-inspired tee, but I just can’t wrap my head around it. The design looks like a collection of price tags, but also stickers, but also game board pieces, but also a messy screensaver? Somebody make it make sense! Judges also don’t know what to make of it, but give a 5.2/10 for effort (maybe).

Source: Redbubble

I…. I hate it here. Look, I get that the Olympic games got postponed to 2021. Cheeky. But this looks like someone took approximately 2 minutes to design in Microsoft Word. And to address the elephant in the room, I actually typed in “oriental font” into my Google browser after looking at this shirt because I just KNEW it was going to have an outrageous name. But wait! It gets worse! This font is also referred to as “Asian font” or “ninja font” (send help, PLEASE). Judges are not available to take your call, please leave a message at the tone.

Source: Redbubble

In the “COVID-19 friendly” category of shirts, we have a clever contender. The socially distanced Olympic rings are giving me healthy, happy vibes - a tasteful homage to the “unprecedented times” we find ourselves in. I’d probably only buy this as a joke, wear it once for the smiles, maybe post it on my Instagram story for a chuckle or a laughing face reaction, and then during the actual postponed Olympics. That’s... actually more than I had anticipated, so judges give it a 8.2/10!

Source: Tokyo 2020 Official Online Shop

I...might actually buy this for myself? I can already imagine how I’d style this clean, box-icon design. Move over Supreme! Just kidding. I don’t know if table tennis officially qualifies as a 3 a.m. Olympic sport, but I find it to be incredibly entertaining. The skill! The agility! The fact that I can’t even see the ball on the table 98% of the time! I think this shirt is an absolute winner. Judges give it a 10!!!

Well there you have it, folks. While the official games have been postponed, that’s not to say we can’t celebrate or even commemorate what could’ve been. The bounds of potential merch designs and styles seem endless, as I’m sure we’ve only scratched the surface. But in the words of the most decorated Olympian of all time, US swimmer Michael Phelps, “Don’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the further you get.” Thanks, Michael. Happy shopping, friends!

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Article featured in this issue:
In Lieu of the Olympics
August 8, 2020

Here's an issue in lieu of the pomp & circumstance that we were expecting right around this time of the year. From retrospectives and lists to an honest assessment of why the Olympics aren't good for local community, we bring you an issue of Olympic proportion.

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