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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all!


My business-partner and I are planning to launch our own t-shirt/clothing brand. At present we’ve got 16 art-works, to choose from, ready for screen-printing.
For a long time we’ve been looking for a t-shirt factory which meets up with our quality requirements for the shirts and recently we found what we’ve been looking for.
We're going to print our shirts there too.

However, the minimum order is 600 T-shirts if we want our customized t-shirt sizes. My question is if it’d be an acceptable idea to present a prototype t-shirt to retailers, to get to know if there's a market for our shirts and maybe even sell a large quantity even before we've made our first order. The problem here is that it wouldn’t be our customized shirt but at least they could see the quality of the shirt. Sizes and artwork could be presented digitally. A budget version of presenting the artwork would be using t-shirt transfers on some random t-shirts.

Would this idea seem to ‘un-professional to a potential buyer? We're going to sell to stores, and retailers in particular. This compromised idea of selling our shirt would only be before our first order of 600 shirts of course.
Has anyone been in this situation before? We could order and print 600 shirts but there’s a risk there of course. I would be very grateful for advice.


/Dan
 

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I think you are going in wrong direction. Do not get 600 shirts made first of all without a buyer. My suggestion is to order maybe 20 plastisol prints from a company like first edition. Then place on the different sizes and or color of the sample shirts. Then you have 20 samples of your product in different sizes and colors shirts at less than you could get the shirts done by a screener. Also if you do get the orders from retailers as you hope to get then I would use the same process and then apply the design to the shirts as you get the orders. Then you could order the right color and size of the shirt for that order, pull the transfer and apply.
 

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Dan,

The prototype shirt you have on hand - is the same exact shirt on order except for the fit?
If it is (weight, color, wash etc), then maybe you could do a couple of things
1. get your hands on as many of those as you can, same size but different colors probably would be the best in your case, since you have all this artwork to show. Does your t-shirt manufacturer offer samples? Even at charge? If so, buy a few, buy a pack if they offer one, it's worth to buy those and pay the shipping etc. I think it would highly increase your chances of success with the buyers. If not - demand it, with 600 minimum I think you deserve to have a sample.
Then I'd follow Lou's advice. Either do some transfers at home, or find a local contractor who'll do a small volume order for you. I understand that transfers may not be your planned method for future or the finished product but I think it's a better idea than presenting a blank and then artwork separately in digital format.
2. then I'd work with the manufacturer on having them make you at least one sample of the finished product to show the particular fit/size you and your partner are concentrating on. I know these can be costly, but again it's worth it.
Just in general, I'd do my best on trying to get the prototype(s) as close as possible to the actual thing. The further it is, the higher the risk of getting rejected, or even worse - getting the order, than realizing the actual product is slightly different from the samples originally shown to the buyer, get in trouble etc etc

Good luck!


 

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Agree with Annushka on lots of points.

Samples are the way to go. Before I found my business mentor, my plan was to purchase the minimum quantity (which was around 600 like yourself) and go from there. It is a large financial risk on your part to take this route. Instead I'm taking the sample route - have 5 designs and I’m getting 20-30 shirts for each design. Now keep in mind you don't need this many for samples (1-3 is sufficient) but I have some promotional obligations I have to take care of. Anyway it’s more expensive per shirt when going with samples – but a lot less risk.

In regards to you going to buyers - I'd advise that you try to show them a sample that is as close to what the actual finalized product will look like. I posed this same question to my mentor and he also stated that retailers want to see the final product that will be on their shelves - They don't want to be in for some shock and see a completely different shirt when it’s delivered.

Just my 2cents…..good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for your replies guys!

Well I guess we could produce a few prototype t-shirts, it would be expensive per shirt but it would be possible at least. Then, presenting to shops and retailers wouldn't be a problem. My business-partner is very keen on ordering 600 t-shirts.
The idea is that shops and small boutiques would be more interested if we could give them t-shirts straight away, offer them lower prices etc. and that we would have an advantage to other people selling via prototypes and thus cannot offer the shirts traight away.
Would these be benefits be of a marginal matter? I'd really apprecciate some arguments for/against this.

/Dan
 

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Dan, as mentioned, the samples you show to retailers need to be the same exact goods that will come out of production to supply them. Anything below that will not be professional enough.

I think the retail sector you are planning on selling to, often book order products. Usually with Book Order type sales the seller offers (example) 5% off the book order (get a deposit if you can). This is a small $$ hit to take considering they are a new client and perhaps re-order. This is a much safer way to go.

Often peeps believe their stuff will sell but the consummer/retail store proves them wrong and dont buy. This could make your start up much harder (sitting on 600 shirts will hurt your cashflow).
 

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devil said:
Thanks for your replies guys!

Well I guess we could produce a few prototype t-shirts, it would be expensive per shirt but it would be possible at least. Then, presenting to shops and retailers wouldn't be a problem. My business-partner is very keen on ordering 600 t-shirts.
The idea is that shops and small boutiques would be more interested if we could give them t-shirts straight away, offer them lower prices etc. and that we would have an advantage to other people selling via prototypes and thus cannot offer the shirts traight away.
Would these be benefits be of a marginal matter? I'd really apprecciate some arguments for/against this.

/Dan
Hi Dan, I think it depends on how further you understand the taste of the consumer. In case, you already have some research info on hand knowing the design might hit the market. Then no ham to order some quantity for quick delivery. Almost of the time, retailer like to buy few pcs for trial. Let them to wait for a certain time might not be work:) :)
 
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