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Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

PoliticsAugust 23, 2023

The best political party merch of 2023

Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

Let everyone know which box you’ll be ticking come October via the medium of personal style. Gabi Lardies picks out the best merch from each party. 

Sometimes fashion trickles down from runways and celebrities, but other times it is born of what virtues you want to align yourself with and the hoarding that caught your eye at the intersection. In 2023, Aotearoa’s competing political parties are offering a touch of Barbie, warm feet, the suggestion that apes should vote, single-car parades, and absolutely-nothing-so-I-got-creative.

Here are my picks of the most fashionable item from each party.

In it for you beanie

Labour’s beanie has nailed the millennial pink in the winter of Barbie, and somehow, in this colourway their slogan seems to take on the tune of the world cup anthem Do It Again by Benee. In terms of quality, I wouldn’t expect a lot. Zooming in on the image reveals the type has been plonked over the top of the photo in Photoshop – I assume IRL it will be cheaply embroidered. There’s no mention of wool content in the fabric, so it’s probably 100% acrylic. 

Price: $30

Grade: Hi Barbie out of 10

What they should replace it with: Party pack (50) of mini frozen sausage rolls

Party creator sequin blue tie

National’s online shop boasts an empty white strip, so far continuing their no-merch approach from the last election. Luxon’s studio portrait, however, has him sporting a blue tie with little flowers, which surely has you Googling “blue tie” and finding that Spotlight has all your party needs covered. The eighth sponsored item – party creator sequin tie blue – is the exact electric blue shade favoured by the National Party. 

Price: $4.50 or $3.15 for a Spotlight VIP

Grade: Everyone loves a fun party

What they should replace it with: A bible, also known as that random book found in every motel room.

Evolution Shirt Female

The designer of the graphic on this T-shirt – which is available in Act’s eye-hurting magenta – has left out a crucial pedestal. The ballot box, pictured on the floor, seems to be at an appropriate height for the chimp-like ape on the left of the image to reach. The evolved human on the right is going to hurt their back as they lean over to slot the envelope into the rather small slit.

Price: $35

Grade: At least these are being printed on demand so they won’t be found in a backyard brazier in Epsom in two years.

What they should replace it with: Act should stick to its lapel pin, which looks like it was worn by pharmacy workers in the 80s and apparently “sets you apart as a lover of freedom on sight”. 

Haki motukā (car flag)

Is there anything better than driving around with haki motukā on? They’re whipping in the wind, other motorists and pedestrians can see them, but you have arguably the best view of your one-car parade. It’s possible you could be mistaken for someone important as car flags are often used by dignitaries and such. Showing your support for Te Pāti Māori can give you this confidence boost. One word of warning: do not use them if you’re driving over 70km/h, says The Flag Shop, entirely in CAPS.

Price: $15 each

Grade: Beep beep!

What they should replace it with: Well, as an avid website user, I think they should replace the hyperlink of the logo on the store header to return to the main party website. I don’t want to shop forever.

Winter Greens (socks)

A third possum fur with a chunk of merino, silk and synthetic fibres (no doubt for stretch), these socks look lush and warm. Do they count as merch if there’s no Green logo, slogan, or branding in sight? Are they aiming for an insider’s if you know, you know approach? Did party members just want a discount on high quality New Zealand made knitwear that they can wear all the time? We may never know, and yet still covet these soft items.

Price: $35

Grade: Consider this a 10 toe review

What they should replace it with: Probably something, anything, with their logo on it. It’s not a good time for their branded T-shirts to be out of stock.

Hair comb

NZ First has never been known for their merch, and this election is no different. But don’t let officiality stop you from allowing your political inclinations to influence your style. A big part (approximately 76%) of Winnie’s charisma is his hair. Always immaculate, always pushed back, always neat, tidy and with a lovely lift and wave. Try it yourself with the help of this Sandalwood double-sided comb, and a light mist of hairspray. 

Price: $20

Grade: If there’s anything left to learn from Winnie, let it be good grooming.

What they should replace it with: Absolutely nothing.

Free downloadable PDF

Filled with nauseating one liners such as “We believe Kaupapa Māori programmes fail”, “It is essential to prioritize the safety and well-being of youth under 16 years old by enforcing appropriate curfew measures” and “Brian Tamaki: The Right Man with The Right Plan!” The Freedoms NZ free downloadable PDF is not exactly wearable but I don’t doubt we might see some avid followers clutching stacks of them and putting them in letterboxes.

Grade: There are hot takes, and then there is preying on people’s fear.

What they should replace it with: A self-sufficient island for Tamaki and his followers where they can have all the freedom they want without the rest of us there.

Colourcard sweatshirt

This TOP sweatshirt design is the perfect example of a graphic designer thinking graphic design is cool. It references a Pantone colour swatch, for no particular reason. Is TOP representing thoughts and views specifically of design-bros? Or do we just need to remind graphic designers that the rest of us don’t really care about colour swatches or typefaces?

Grade: This could appear at a graphic design studio near you, if they’re prepared to give up their entirely black outfits.

What they should replace it with: A calculator, so all supporters can double check their technocratic policies.

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