We know Fender and Gibson make outstanding guitars — but when you’re spending Big Money on buying electric axes — you also want to demonstrate your loyalty beyond the amp and in the street.  You aren’t showing off, you’re merely expressing your implied, private, branding in public.  This review will focus on the clothing branding of both powerhouse companies and we’ll start with Gibson.


When you visit the Gibson store, you are met with a clean interface and a few options for buying branded clothing.  Gibson is having a rough time financially — in March Gibson had to layoff 50 employees — and for the past six months or so their clothes have been ridiculously priced. 

$80 for a t-shirt?  For shame!  A couple of weeks ago, Gibson lowered their prices, but in order to get the cheaper price, you have to buy in triplicate.  That $80 t-shirt is now $25 — but you have to buy two more shirts to get the discounted price.

The quality of the Gibson shirts is okay, but they have a severe size problem.  A woman’s Large is really a Child’s size Medium.  A man’s X-Large is really a Boy’s Small.  The Gibson site does not make that size disparity clear and so your lifelong assumption that an X-Large is an X-Large does not apply to Gibson clothing.

When the Gibson stuff arrives, the shirts are wrapped in cellophane celebrating their Korean heritage, and one immediately comprehends there is a size problem between the Korean manufacturing unit and the Gibson USA sales team. 

I also had a problem with shipping my Gibson clothes.  I paid $72 for Overnight delivery because I was going out of town and I wanted my brand, but my order was shipped ordinary Ground. 

When I tried to get a refund for Gibson’s error, I was ignored, truncated, delayed and disrespected for 10 days.  After several disappointing contacts attempts, I was finally given back $56 for shipping.  Gibson still charged me $16 for Ground shipping and there was no apology and no mea culpa or “we’ll waive the shipping charges for you” to make a wronged situation right.

I will never buy another Gibson clothing item.

Visiting the Fender Store is a much more valuable experience in every way compared to the Gibson fiasco.

Fender has a much wider and deeper choice of clothing and other branded merchandise and when you order a Large on the Fender site, you get what you expect:  A Large that fits you.  The style and design of the clothing is excellent and awe-inspiring.

Fender also offers a ton of shirt designs to fit any aesthetic.  You will never go lonely with Fender on your back.  

With Fender, you aren’t locked into a style or two — you have lots of choices to meet your mood and modern style:

Here’s how the Gibson clothing site looks.  There are not a lot of choices. 

Notice the green Gibson warning below that you have to buy at least three pieces in order to get the lower price?

Fender, unlike Gibson, offers lots of different headwear. 

Want a fun hat to wear?  Fender has you covered.  Gibson does not sell hats:  Pound sand, headwear lover!

Fender, unlike Gibson, also offers you outerwear gear. 

Bundle up against the cold with hoodies and other thick, zippered, Fender clothing:

The last, final, terrific arrow that Fender uses to slay the Gibson beast is the fact that FedEx Ground shipping is free.  Order online and Fender will pay to deliver your order.  I like that extra, added, touch — and I will now forever order more clothing from Fender than from Gibson.

Branding works both ways.  A guitar can press you into a t-shirt purchase, and a t-shirt purchase experience can influence future feelings of satiety and value satisfaction. 

My clothing branding experience with Fender and Gibson is already taking me into reconsidering future guitar purchases:  A Telecaster collection is becoming more delightful by the day as my Les Pauls begin to slowly gather the dust of neglect and disappointment tainted by my obscene experience with the Gibson store.

4 Comments

  1. The Gibson t-shirts are highly detailed, Gordon. They have cutouts and special thread and embroidery while the Fender t-shirts are multicolored with some fun appliques — but still — yes… $80 is ridiculous for any t-shirt anywhere… especially one that doesn’t fit when it arrives!