Thursday, July 30, 2009

Everything you need to know about t-shirts but were afraid to ask

The basic information about t-shirts is required to make a decision about what type of t-shirts you may want to buy. First off it doesn't take that long to order sample t-shirts and simply try them on, wash them, print them, throw them on the ground and when you are done, use them as a rag. T-shirts are cheap and so the few dollars you need to spend to test a couple of different brands will be worth it in the end.

Value: Either you want cheap t-shirts, thick durable tshirts, fashionably thin and tighter fitting t-shirts, organic t-shirts, soft t-shirts or womens cut t-shirts. Most people are driven by their budget and the price range of t-shirts is from $1.50-8.50/each for basic tshirts in the above-mentioned types. Each time you add a variable to the mix, like pockets, longsleeves etc... then you add a dollar or two to the cost of the items. White shirts are cheaper and black or color shirts usually cost an additional dollar each. Here is a general listing of the most common brands from cheapest to most expensive: Jerzee, Gildan, Tultex, Fruit of the Loom, Hanes, Alstyle, Anvil, American Apparel, Bella and Alternative Apparel. I didn't mentions all of the brands out there, but these are readily available and if you can't find what you want in one brand then you can switch to another and still get something similar.

Weight: In the old days people rubbed the cotton on a shirt and measured it's worth by how thick it felt. These days it's just the opposite; people like lightweight thin cotton that shows a little nipple action. I personally am in the middle, I like medium weight t-shirts that are a bit soft. The thinner the cotton also means the more it tends to shrink. However, cotton does bounce back if you don't mind tugging your shirt after you've sent it through a was and restretching the cotton to fit again. The more liberal, meat-eaters, t shirts are cut like Hanes, Jerzee, Gildan and Fruit of the Loom brands. The thinner cotton shirts are American Apparel, Alternative Apparel and Tultex. In the middle you've got Alstyle and Anvil.

Availability: Typically the Hanes and Gildan are readily available. The Alstyle inventory fluctuates alot, especially in the summer. Anvil is up and down too. American Apparel has done a great job on keeping stock on items this year and I hope they keep it up as they seem to be replacing the Hanes Beefy T as the quintessential t-shirt. Tultex has been able to ship decent size orders and I don't do a lot with Fruit of the Loom or Jerzee. Bella is a Womens line of shirts that are also in the mix. I can get most orders to customers around the country in less than 5 days, but for orders that are mixed brands and or small orders I often have to consolidate the orders and it can take a full week to get them processed.

Quantity Wholesale pricing: The more t-shirts you buy the cheaper they get. There are some limits which are around the 500 quantity. Still, don't buy more shirts than you need to save money for any particular job. Shipping prices go down the more you buy, as well as, printing prices go down. From a business standpoint the risk factors go up when large orders are placed online so we require multiple levels of fraud protection before we ship large orders. No returns on large wholesale t-shirt orders since the shipping often is equal to more than the profit on any given wholesale tshirt order.

Export: Each country is different, but we are setting up an international section for orders of shirts made in the United States to be sold to a variety of countries outside the United States. Here is a list of the countries we currently do business with: Canada, England, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and we hope to increase that list. Large export orders for tshirts are only sent on a prepay via wire transfer basis. There are no returns on large wholesale t-shirt orders and all taxes, duties and shipping rates are paid by the importer.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

T-shirts without a Country; International Shipping prices for exporting t-shirts

International Shipping prices for exporting t-shirts is simply put, expensive and cumbersome. However, the dollar is cheap and cotton is still king as a commodity. The United States is a great origin for purchasing t-shirts for export whether they were originally made in the US or not. I have started a research project to determine the shipping documents, the shipping cost and the import duties and taxes for t-shirts on a country by country basis. This is just the begining and I have determined to use Federal Express for the bulk of the international shipping of cotton t-shirts because of the control that I can maintain over the packages all the way to the importers door. The standard rules for exporting shirts from us to another country is that the order must be prepaid via wire transfer, including the shipping cost. All duties and taxes will be paid by the importer. Here is a list of the countries and a link to where I am compiling the information on each countries specific rules and fees:


England UK United Kingdom






New Zealand

Saturday, July 25, 2009

An endless array of unfinished projects

I realize the difference between being young and old is that when I was younger I worked intensly on a project and became obsessed with the tools and skills related to a subject until I moved on to another subject. Now that I am older I have every project that I have ever worked on going on simultaneously and my concentration is limited due to the amount of time I can spend on each thing. I feel that at some point all of these different hobbies will merge into an opus thus allowing me to move on to something totally new.

Airbrushing is the new talent I am delving into and it seems really cool. I've spent my entire life rejecting this skill for more graphic, hard-lined, types of printing
like screen printing. I've been using spray paint and making stencils with laser cutting and wire mesh screens, however, I was reluctant to do too much since the spray paint stinks and gives me a headache eventhough I wear a mask. The idea of water-based inks not causing a toxic cloud while I worked attracted me slowly to the air brush equipment at the art store. Now I've got an assortment of inks for textiles and I think I'm going to accentuate various black lined screen print designs with air brushed highlights.

Screen printing is basically making a stencil, so the first thing I worked on was coating a wire mesh screen with emulsion. Needless to say it was a huge mess, but I managed to get a 4" X 5" rectangle photographic stencil of Obama. Ts encouraged me to go further and I restretched the screens and spend several days making the emulsion thicker.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Why T-shirts?

"Don't ask me why, don't say goodbye, don't make me blooooooooo. T-shirts, I love only you." Ok, t-shirts don't deserve to be made into sing-song language, but I often wonder why do I work on this sort of cheap cotton genre. I'm pretentious enough to be a real artist, but I keep coming back to this "two-word" format of 1-2 color 8 X 10" artwork theme. I can't say exactly why, but I think it has to do with the fact that people buy t-shirts and therefore it becomes a commodity item. I like art, but the worst thing I can imagine is that I would make something really great and the first person that sees it buys it and then it is stuck away somewhere waiting until I am dead for the rest of the world to clue in on what it means. There are too many ifs, ands and butts when it comes to the limited production artwork world and t-shirts cross all-lines from a distribution standpoint.