With the launch of my next collection, The Audacity Collection, right around the corner, I thought it’d be a good time to talk about what goes into launching a t-shirt collection. This is my second collection, but the process this time around was a lot different than the first collection because I was a lot more hands on (learning means growing). Here’s a breakdown of my process for launching a t-shirt collection:
I always carry around a notebook with me to write down t-shirt ideas. You never know when a good idea for a design will hit you. Anything that comes to my mind that fits into the DSR Apparel concept of women’s empowerment goes into the notebook. Some will get used, some won’t, but I’d rather have as many ideas to work from as possible. From there, I pick four to six ideas that have a similar theme/message.
2. Collection Name:
Once I’ve got my four to six ideas that have a similar theme/message, I name the collection. I always try to pick a collection name that’s true to DSR Apparel’s message – empowering women, in a positive way.
3. The Look:
Once I’ve got my ideas and collection name together, it’s time to design the looks. I’m a huge typography junkie – I could spend my last dime on a pretty font. I pick pretty fonts that I hope my customers will like. Once I’ve settled on fonts, it’s time to design the looks. I’ve come to find that mixing fonts is a science – you can have an idea of what might look good together, but you never really know until you start playing around with them. Also, when I first started working on the Audacity Collection, I was pretty set on what fonts I wanted for which designs. Uh, wrong – you never know what works, visually, until you start putting things together.
I try not to use more than four different fonts. And all of those fonts and designs have to work together, cohesively, as a collection. I use Adobe InDesign to create my designs.
Once the designs are finalized, it’s time for t-shirt mockups. Mockups are very important – just because a design looks good on paper does not mean that it looks good on a t-shirt. If it doesn’t work, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
Colorways, etc. are also decided during this part of the process. You’d be surprised how a design may look good in one colorway and not so good in another.
4. Choosing A Shirt:
Currently, I’m printing on blanks (standard t-shirts). When I pick a shirt, I’m focused on two things – feel and fit. I love soft t-shirts, as I’m sure everyone does. No one wants a starchy t-shirt; good luck trying to get someone to wear that, let alone pay for it. Fit is just as important as feel – there’s nothing worst than an ill-fitted t-shirt; they don’t get worn either. With the first collection, I probably went through about ten samples before I found the shirt I liked. After some important customer feedback, I had to find a new shirt with a better fit. This time, I went through six samples until I found the right t-shirt. Moving forward, I’m looking into manufacturing to get exactly the t-shirt fit and feel I want.
5. Off To The Printers:
Once I have my artwork ready and t-shirt picked, it’s time to send everything off to the printers. I don’t do my own screen printing, which is why finding the right screen printer is vital. With the first collection I must have researched three to five different screen printers. Even with all that, my experience with my first screen printer (who shall remain nameless) was a disaster. My experience with Underground Printing, this time around, was a complete 180. If you’re using a screen printer, quality is important – it may mean the difference between meeting your deadlines and getting product you can sell versus mistake shirts you can’t use.
Once I get my shirts back, it’s photo time – photos for the e-commerce site and sliders, including styled layouts. Not only is it necessary to have photos on the site, but it’s also important to have styled looks to give customers inspiration on how to style looks.
7. Finishing Touches:
Adding the finishing touches is probably one of may favorite parts of the whole process – the hang tags, note cards, thank you cards, stickers – it’s an opportunity to really add that extra personal touch and give my customer something truly special.
So there you have it – my process for what goes into launching a t-shirt collection. What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.