A Tumblr user’s laptop collage. Photo: pa5m.tumblr.com
Head to any college campus when the sun’s in the sky and chances are you’ll see zombie-like students making their way to class in pajamas. Unlike generations before, leaving the dorm room dressed for bed is not only acceptable, it’s expected. So how do you judge your peers appropriately when everyone’s dressed in clothes that can be purchased at your local convenience store? By the collage on their laptop.
“Everyone wears their Greek letters all the time. On everything — even their computers are covered,” Olivia Peniston, a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, says, referring to the sticker epidemic sweeping collage campuses. And it’s not just sorority sisters and fraternity bros who are wallpapering their laptops with layers of stickers to mark their place in the collegiate pecking order.
“I love my laptop stickers ♡,” Lizzie wrote on Tumblr. Photo: n3tflix-wbu.tumblr.com
Where once a Lacoste collared shirt or a pair of Seven jeans sent signals—of one’s fashion sense, hometown, parents’ income, friend potential—to fellow co-eds, now stickers project who you are. Who to approach on the quad, sit next to in class, share a table with at the library, are all semi-determined through the Clueless “As If” sticker on your shiny MacBook Air.
Stickers are also a way for young people who love Tumblr to take their beloved memes (Kim Kardashian cry face is a really popular one) and fan appreciation (Parks and Recreation, Grey’s Anatomy, and Harry Potter are popular) offline. The wittier, the more covered, the better curated, the more culturally relevant, the better. And this is where Redbubble comes in, the sticker vendor of choice for undergrads everywhere.
“Stickers are a simple and flexible way for people to express their personal style,” the Australian-based company’s Chief Marketing Officer Faith Sedlin tells Yahoo Style. “Whether you’re placing it on a skateboard, van or notebook, stickers are an easy, fun way to personalize your belongings and share a bit of whatever you’re into.”
Jimmy Fallon, Judaism, feminism, and Mean Girls all represented on this collage. Photo: rollingwithnohomies.tumblr.com
Redbubble is an online marketplace for artist-designed products. Like its competitor Society6, users can upload their creations—which sometimes gets the company into tricky copyright issues—and they can then be used on T-shirts, phone cases, duvet covers, stationary, and more. The company launched in 2007, but has recently witnessed a resurgence with a $15.5 million capital investment.
The brand, which draws in approximately 10 million monthly users, has reached the target millennial demographic mainly through word of mouth and social media, especially Tumblr, an Internet hub for fandoms. “As a generation, millennials are creatively expressing themselves—about a third have tattoos and they place high value on music, art and creativity,” Sedlin says. “They’re searching for something custom and not mass produced, and we give them the ability to find items that are personally relevant reflections of who they are and what they’re into.”