Tips for a successful t-shirt brand
Let’s face it, if creating a successful t-shirt brand was easy, everybody would be doing it. If you think you have an idea for a successful t-shirt brand, these tips may just help you out. If nothing else this cliff notes version will help you avoid some common pit falls. Pit falls we’ve seen over 20 years and hundreds of customers who had ideas for a succesful shirt brand and why most flop and while some are still customers today.
1. Know your market. : We get a lot of customers who come in and and place an order for their custom t-shirt brand. We always ask what their target market is 80% of the time they really have no idea or it’s so broad that they are already fighting an uphill battle. Know your target market and cater to them. For instance, if your brand is targeting high school and college aged kids you might want to put your designs on the Comfort Colors brand shirts and tanks. This brand is uber popular amongst that age group. A little pricier than a standard basic t-shirt but nobody wants a standard t-shirt unless you are one of the larger global brands who can sell their custom t-shirts on name alone. A successful t-shirt brand can take time. Knowing your market can put your brand in the fast lane.
2. Don’t be stingy: The 2nd biggest mistake we find when printing customers t-shirts after not knowing their target market is cheaping out on the shirts. Look, we get it. You’re a start up and you want to keep costs down. But if you go with a basic tee, I can tell you don’t know your targer market because while a basic tee is cheap, everybody has a few in their closet already and unless it’s a super awesome design, people will pass. You want to cater to the current trends which right now are softer more tapered cut shirts. Yes, they cost more than a basic preshrunk cotton t-shirt, but your margin will be greater because if it feels like a higher quality shirt material, people are willing to pay more. A lot of our customers who we print their brand shirts for have the same idea.They want to order the first run of shirts on the less expensive basic shirts and after they sell them and make some money they want to come bag and upgrade to a more modern high priced shirt. This could possibly work but we haven’t seen it personally. Typically what happens is they sell their 100 shirts and when a new design comes out, even though it’s on a nicer shirt, you get buyer regret or a consumer been there done that mentality and sales on another order fall short. Know your audience, and cater the shirt from the very start. Skimping on the right shirt for your market can be the difference between a succesfful t-shirt brand and a disaster.
3. Design and color combination: One of the most effective ways to sell a brand is to have a great shirt color ink combination. If you are selling apparel for beach seekers, you don’t want to use dark colored t-shirts, you want to have bright colored options. Weight wise you would want to stick with light weight, in the case of sun seekers perhaps a performance poly. Either way you go you want to look at the trends which are currently softer lighter shirts with tapering. In order to have your brand stand out, a catchy shirt color with a complimenting ink color can make a dull design very desirable. Where as having the wrong combination can mean the difference between a dud and a shirt that flies off the shelves. A mediocre design with a catchy color combination can make an average t-shirt a successful t-shirt brand.
4. Maximize your quantity: We get customers with the latest and greatest t-shirt idea from all walks of life and we’ve seen it all. There are those customers who come in and want to order 5,000 shirts right off the bat and then there are those who want to start small at 12 or 24 shirts. While you don’t have to already be wealthy to launch a t-shirt brand, having some capital certainly helps. I can tell you right now that every customer who has ordered only 12 or 24 shirts to launch their custom t-shirt brand has never been back for a repeat order, never. Probably becuase in these cases their target market is friends and classmates and at the end of the day, getting paid for the product was probably a lot of work. Consequently we have never had anyone who came in and ordered 5,000 t-shirts to launch their t-shirt brand ever place a reorder either and chances are they probably have 4,500 shirts sitting in a basement somewhere. A successful t-shirt brand will not leave you with an inventory that gets dusty.
At Kirkwood Trading Company, we want you to succeed. If you succeed and we remain your custom t-shirt printer, then we succeed with you. So we tell people start out small. You don’t need to start out with a 5,000 t-shirt order. As much as we like printing 5,000 shirt orders, when it comes to the case of a t-shirt idea, we know that more often than not you end up with a basement full of shirts. We will help you analyze your market and maybe we tell you start with 100 shirts or 1,000 shirts. You can always order more but if it fails, you are stuck with a lot of costly inventory. If you want to start with 24 shirts, we’ll discuss with you why it’s not a great idea and see how close you can come to a targer order for such a brand. It may be more money up front but if you can swing a 100 shirt order at lower price per shirt, you’ll have better saturation with 100 shirts than you will with 24 shirts.
With custom printed t-shirts, like every product, the more you buy the lower the price per piece is. It’s key to find that magical number for your cost verses retail. What will your gross be as well as your net based on a given price point on a given quantity.
Look at these tips for a succesful t-shirt brand as all being equally important. Look at them as a recipe for sucess and if each step is given it’s do dilligence, that could be the matter between a successful t-shirt brand and a flop. Think of these 4 points as a recipe for a cookie. You forget to add the chocolate chips and you don’t have a successful chocolate chip cookie.
If you are in the market for a custom t-shirt brand contact us at Kirkwood Trading Company and we’ll be happy to discuss options with you. We can share current trends, help or critique designs, and give you best practices based on our 20 years of screen printing experience in the Saint Louis area.