If you’ve never been the one to organize a T-shirt order for your high school debate team, senior class, fraternity, office kickball team, or family reunion, you might be surprised at the number of decisions there are to make.
Though there will still be several questions to answer, working with a promotional products consultant can make the process immensely easier. To help you better prepare for your next order and simplify the process, review the checklist of items below.
1. Pick a T-shirt Model
Style: Are you looking for a generic T-shirt, or are you hoping for something with extra details? V-neck, scoop neck, cap sleeve, ringer, distressed, raglan, ribbed… the choices are endless.
Brand: Just like with most things in life, you pay more for a brand name. In some cases, the difference in quality is enough to justify the higher price tag- American Apparel tees are fabulous, and they should cost more than a Hanes tee. But if you’re looking for something more standard, the difference between a Hanes 100% cotton 6.1oz tee and a Gildan 100% cotton 6.1oz tee is nearly imperceptible.
Color: Short and sweet- whites are less expensive than heathers, and heathers are less expensive than colors.
Material: 100% cotton and 50/50 cotton/poly blend are two very common material choices, the former being the less expensive selection. Your options certainly don’t end there, however. Where and how will the shirt be worn? If you intend to wear them during exercise or at an outdoors event, you might consider a material with moisture-wicking or odor-resistant qualities. Are you organizing a green event? Think about organic cotton or a bamboo blend.
Weight: When comparing apples to apples (for example, a Gildan 100% cotton T-shirt compared to a Gildan 100% cotton T-shirt), the option with the lighter weight will be the least expensive, by rule of thumb. The least expensive option may not always be the best choice, however. It’s best to think about where and how the shirt will be worn. Your black, lightweight and lived-in ‘vintage’ concert tee might be your favorite weekend uniform, but you’d be wise to avoid this weight when your boss puts you in charge of ordering white T-shirts for the company picnic. On a sunny day, white, lightweight tees will leave little to the imagination when it comes to your coworkers’ undergarments.
Size: Who will be wearing the shirt? Are generic adult sizes sufficient, or will you need youth sizing or a fitted ladies cut? Keep in mind too that plus sizes (2XL and up) are generally at least $2.00 more expensive than sizes S-XL.
2. Decide on the Order Quantity
The price of a T-shirt will always be lower per piece at high quantities than at low quantities. Inquire about price breaks- if the nearest price break is just a few shirts away from the number you expect you’ll need, bump up the quantity. You can find other smart ways to increase your quantity in our blog post: How to Get to the Next Column.
3. Create the Artwork/Imprint
Design: Do you have a design prepared or will you require the assistance of a graphic artist? If you have art to submit, is it camera-ready? Screen-printing requires vectored artwork for optimal print quality. Are you unfamiliar with “vectored” art? Our art spec sheet will help explain.
Number of colors: How many colors will be used in your design? Is the design composed of solid color blocks, or is it more photographic in nature, with shadows and gradations? Decide which elements of your design are essential, and which elements could be modified if necessary. Between digital process, spot color printing and digital transfer, you can really print just about anything these days if you’re willing to pay for it. Generally speaking, the more colorful the artwork, the higher the price tag will be.
For more printing advice, be sure to check out our Print This, Not That series.
Print method: As I wrote above, there are several different printing techniques offered today that can give you the look you’re hoping for. Consult your promotional products consultant to learn more about your options and the associated costs.
I must admit that after typing this list up even I feel a bit overwhelmed, and I make these decisions for clients every single day. The most important thing you can do is to have a clear budget in mind when you approach the task. Your rep will advise you on everything else and guide you to the best possible product for your dollar.