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re: create tshirts under my own "brand name" - do I just relabel the t-shirts?

Actually, most actualy customers (the people that pay money to buy the shirts) don't care in the slightest about what "tag" is in the label.

Mostly that is for the vanity of the company, not for any customer benefit. As twin85 says, you can walk into many retail stores and see custom designs on any major brand t-shirts.

So my advice would be to not worry too much about the brand, because it won't hurt your sales. It could even help your sales if customers know that they are buying shirts from a manufacturer they trust, rather than some no-name company.

People will specfically ask for Hanes or American Apparel shirts, but you'll be hard pressed to find someone asking for no-name brand tees. Customers just don't care.

If you are just starting out, I think worry about neck labels can be a distraction from getting your product out there and making sales.

You can create a brand by the designs on your shirts, and even branding the back of the shirt around the neckline (outside) or on the sleeves. Make an unobtrusive small logo and place it on the sleeve or back neckline and you'll have a much better start at branding yourself (because people will actually SEE it, and it won't get ripped out like many neck tags do).

Once you start selling some shirts, it's easy to find a printer that will relabel shirts for you if you decide to go that route. You can buy labels from companies like DJ's Labels and then just have them remove the brand tag or you can buy shirts direct from the manufacturer without the labels.

If you're talking about Nike, Echo, etc, those are large corporations that are actually selling a brand of t-shirt. They actually have the garments made to their specifications by the factory by the thousands. That is a true t-shirt brand. Even some of the larger fashion labels got their start printing on Hanes or Gildan shirts and then moving on up to their own factory made tees.

If you're just starting out selling t-shirt designs, then use the printing to establish your brand. Worry about the garment brand later.

That's just my opinion though :)
This was very helpful to me as I had some similar questions as to use the major brands (Hanes, Gildan, etc.) to bring some validity of the quality of our shirts or try to make a brand name out of our shirts from the start. What you said makes much more sense. Thanks for posting!
 
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