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Hello all, I am new here because I didn't know a place like this exists until recently.

I am not looking for business advice, a perfect answer, or anything of the like. There are no perfect solutions and easy answers that bypass hard work and effort, I definitely know. I just want to know what you guys think, and if you can offer any insights into my recent troubles.

I have owned an apparel company for the past 2-3 years (Manga/Japanese pop culture-inspired streetwear.) Up until recently, I was fulfilling orders with Apliiq after moving from Printful. I never had the time or money to get into the real nitty-gritty (working a day job and living life.) However, I've been very fortunate and have been saving money, so I can now attempt to pursue this venture full-time. I really want to make this something special. Anytime I have taken a financial risk with the brand, it has paid off in spades. I have some pretty big ideas and have been working with a new amazingly talented artist.

I no longer want to be selling "cool-looking merch on cheap shirts" such as Gildan or Bella Canvas with on-demand DTG printing (nothing against these companies or people that pursue that route, get your "bag" however you see fit.) Being a "streetwear" brand with a very specific message and ideas, I wanted flexibility and to have full control of the final product the customer receives. After researching, I ended up deciding to try the heat press route with transfers such as Supacolor (not 100% sure about using them alone though.)

So, I invested in a Heat Press Nation signature series 16x20 press (auto-open, sliding drawer, etc.) that I got used in amazing condition from someone for $400. I have tested it with the Supacolor samples I received and it works wonderfully. However, being the overthinker I am, I have some concerns.

Does this feel cheap?
Will it look/feel cheap with my designs? (multi-color large prints)
Will they last long or crack/break/peel within a few washes?
Did I actually pick the right production option?


Most of our designs are very colorful. Plus I am working with a new artist and rebranding, so the volume of our first order isn't going to be massive (probably just shy of 200 pieces total with 6 designs.) So screenprinting isn't a super viable option. (If you would like to see some of the designs to confirm if it is possible or not please feel free to let me know.)

DTG is a little pricey, and has to be outsourced (therefore sleeve prints, hood prints, and unique print placement end up not being possible most of the time.) They usually don't want to print on dark/colored garments and aren't flexible with printing on garments that you supply. (They want you to buy the ones they like to use.) The prints also don't last very long sometimes.

Sublimation won't work because I would like to be printing on high-quality cotton blanks from the likes of Rue Porter or Original Favorites. You also can't print on dark/colors with it, period.

So, I figured I'd try transfers and got a sample pack from Supacolor but now I'm not so sure anymore. For smaller work it might not be the worst, but some of our prints are supposed to be quite large (10x15inches.) I'm not sure about that large of a portion of the shirt having "that feel" to it (that you get from their transfers.) I want the brand to be a bit more "upscale" so I can't have the clothing and prints feeling cheap. It would however work with mineral washed/tie-dye stuff which we would like to experiment with if possible. Another nice plus is I can make the stuff as it's ordered. If things blow up in my face, I can always return/sell the blanks and press and take the loss on the transfers.

What do you guys think? Any insights into what I should do given your knowledge and experiences? Feedback and ideas would be VERY GREATLY APPRECIATED. I am taking a large risk here, so it means a lot to me. Thank you!
 
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