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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is my first post on t-shirtforums so I just wanted to say hi and congratulations to everyone on making this such a great forum, I've found it invaluable over the last few weeks.

Two friends and I are in the process of establishing a social enterprise that will help raise funds for microfinance initiatives in developing countires around the world. The business side of the social enterprise will essentially be a clothing line, starting initially with (you guessed it!) branded t-shirts being sold from our own website.

We initially want to produce 500 t-shirts and after contacting a variety of UK-based suppliers in the UK I've come up with the following quotes for unit costs (assuming 500 units):

1) Blank T-Shirt £2.98 (for a Fair Wear fitted t-shirt including transport, though we'd also consider organic or fairtrade equivalents)
2) Printing £0.97 (for screen printing of a 3 colour design)
3) Label Manufacturing £0.36 (for three colour, loop fold, woven labels)
4) Relabelling/folding/bagging £0.83

So a price of around £5.14 per unit to get the shirts ready for fulfillment.

Given that I expect our initial order of 500 shirts to be the first of many I have two issues with the details above:​

(a) None of the UK-based suppliers I've contacted seem to offer more than one of the services I require (or at least not for a competitive price), so there's a lot of fiddling round in getting blank t-shirts to the printer, then getting the printed shirts to the relabeller, then the relabelled shirts on to our fullfillment house etc. This multiple steps also make quality control more difficult, so ideally I want a supplier that does everything under one roof.​

(b) The suppliers who seem interested in working with a quantity of 500 units seem to be those geared up for production of promotional clothing, but without wanting to tar everyone with the same brush these companies do sometimes seem to have a fairly relaxed attitude to quality control (when asked what their QC processes are I get told "don't worry, they'll be fine"). As we're trying to build a strong brand the quality of our clothing is really important, and also any returns will cost us, so I'm keen to investigate alternatives.​

So my question is whether, for the purposes of streamlining my production processes, ensuring quality, and hopefully reducing costs, I should start approaching suppliers from outside the UK? And if so does anyone have any tips on how I contact these sorts of suppliers, e.g. are there 'brokers' for this sort of thing? Or is it just a matter of googling 't-shirt manufacturers' and seeing what comes up?​

Any advice would be appreciated as it seems quite daunting to me at the moment.​

Best,​

Joe​
 

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Hi Joe

Your new enterprise seems very interesting.

We are based in the UK and the USA. Most of our production and printing is in Illinois and St Louis. We also fulfill orders. Our base business is well known and has been in existence for many years.

If you would like a quote, please let me know. We can do the whole package for you and our standards are high.

Roland

Online Corporate Retail
 

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Hi Joe,

Welcome to the forums. I'm sure your get a few people on here that will be able to help or at least advise, including myself.

With regards to your questions, i'l try and answer as best as possible. Firstly, you will find that most printers do not do everything in house. This is even the same with many high street fashion brands who also source various work out to different places, and it can be a long process from production, to finally getting your finished garments back. If you were looking to get 500 initially, i wouldn't advise you get actual woven neck labels yet.

The best way of going, the most cost effective way of going, and what you will find that majority of new labels and many established labels do, is transfer print into the neck. This way, you can keep things in house as many decent printers will be able to offer this, but it does depend on the type of transfer used, as some are better than others.

Most woven label manufactucters do not do the actual labeling, so you will find that a full colour roll of labels (usually per 1000), will cost anything from £120.00 - £160.00, so not sure if you also took that cost into consideration. The additional costs would be to de-label, assuming you have purchased a branded t-shirt, and then the cost of re-labeling. This process can take anywhere between 1-2 weeks, usually the later on larger orders. Also remember the time it takes for you to deliver your goods to the company, and the time for them to return them, so all in all, it could be anywhere up to 3-4 weeks by the time your finished goods are received back with just the neck label. Going on 1 week to print 500 t-shirts, the whole proces would probably take 1 month plus.

However, having your garments printed and neck label printed in house, i think could easily be done in half the time, add your time for the delivery of your garments to printer, and then to have them returned. But speed is everything within this industry.

With regards to QC...this isn't really a companies policy if they aren't actually manufacturing your garments. All they would be doing is printing, and assuming they provide you with an initial sample prior to print, then there isn't much QC to worry about, hence why they may seem laid back.

But if you were having your garments manufactured bespoke, then there would definitely be a tougher QC process, but you won't, i doubt, find anyone in the UK manufacturing your garments. If anything, you would come across middlemen that supply here and would source your garments abroad to their manufacturers. You could go down this route, or simply source this out of the UK yourself, and for only 500 t-shirts isn't worth the hassle. Most decent overseas manufacturers will have minimums of 500 per size and colour.

Your better of sourcing a decent branded t-shirt in the UK, preferably in your case, unbranded t-shirts (that are manufactured with no neck label), so as to save costs in delabelling, and then taking it from there. If you wanted to purchase a Fruit fo the Loom, Gildan etc, these can easily be de-labeled, but it depends on what sort of quality you were looking for. If you were looking to actually build a brand then you may want to look into getting bespoke garments produced at some point, but don't try and run before you can walk, as it's all a learning process...

After your initial 500 t-shirts, assuming they sell well, then look into manufacturers abroad, but i wouldn't advise doing this for your first order.

I could go on...and explain much more, but feel free to PM me, as i work in this industry, and if i can't help, can advise you where possible.
 

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Hey Joe,

My advice is to go about your brand in the way that you want it to be FROM the outset...if you want to use woven labels from the beginning then do so. As you say it's a 'brand' and therefore there should be some unformity from the beginning.

Are the prices that you have listed inclusive of VAT? If so then they seem reasonable..ish but still possibly towards a high per-unit cost.

I myself launched my own tee brand a year ago and now we are launching a company offering a complete in-house service (Custom Threads Factory) - screen printing, transfer printing, re-labelling, folding, polybagging. Garment processing is so important and hence I understand your concerns on the 'QC' front. I was lucky in that my parents had a textiles background and are still in the trade and therefore it would be alien to me to have a bits and bobs done at three to four different places - would be a logistical nightmare! I'm sure people do it though...of course they do.

What I would say is that for a quantity of 500 I would stick to the UK as for these kinds of numbers and including getting the tees here etc you will most be likely be achieving a similar price.
 

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There is a clothing line and there is setting up your own brand! Do you want to establish a global brand, do you have the marketing ability etc...do you have further ideas as to other garments you would like release?

Setting up a brand requires a reasonable amount of investment...even £20000 wouldn't get you onto a serious level of establishing a serious brand.

However, if your starting a clothing line means less investment, and you can build a brand that way assuming your designs sell...For the 500 t-shirts you say you wish to purchase, think about sizes...this would be approx 70-100 per size, so in no way a reasonable amount to start up a brand...but clothing line yes, and probabaly the best way to start. Start small, keep costs to a minimum and then expand. By stating staying away from woven labels, your reducing costs. Woven labels aren't the be all and the end all, and as stated previously, the in thing for many brands these days is transfer labels...You don't even know if your designs will sell, so don't rush into going all out to begin with.

Gurvinder, whats your t-shirt brand you launched a year ago? I'm interested to know?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks everyone for your posts, particularly dave, as I hadn't considered transfer printing into the neck rather than relabelling, and this option could both simplify the supply chain and reduce costs.

I was also reassured to hear from guv that there are some complete in-house services out there, as right now the focus for me really needs to be the marketing of the clothing line, rather than the management of a complex supply chain.

I appreciate the advice and will keep you posted on progress.

Best,

Joe
 

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HI JOe,

We are in UK Manchester and process min 10,000 garms a week printed, embroidered DTG or whatever.
Unless you are dead set on woven labels, drop it. Most of the newer styles nowadays have printed neck id,s. Cost is better aswell as speed and look.( Ihate it when i see the lable has been unpicked and re sewn) yes I know there is tagless.
Going offshore is not much of an option at the moment as the qty is low but could be when you buld up the enterprise.
As fo quality we are an ISO9001 and ISO14001 company so quality management is 2nd nature, especially for tracability so far as even right back to the cotton farm.
Re Bagging etc is obviouly not a problem and your decision on which shirts is best for the job but if you need to get in touch please PM me for any advice or quotes when you are ready.

Thanks
JOhn
 

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Have you tried Target transfers? I saw them at a seminar at P&P in Bham, I think they offer a complete fulfilment service and work with some big brands by the look of things. I don't have any direct experience but as part of the stahls group they should be reputable...
 
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