Swankee got in touch asking if we were interested in taking a look at their designs, and being a total sucker for gold foil print, naturally I said yes.
Swankee (a play on “swanky”), based in Washington D.C., were established in 2016 with a mission statement of releasing bold and complex designs, frequently making use of graffiti and calligraphy styled imagery, with designs being sourced from all over the world.
For such a young brand there is definitely a level of maturity behind their current offering. I don’t know the background of the people behind Swankee, but this certainly doesn’t feel like the first time they’ve launched a t-shirt brand. Their collection of tees is cohesive enough to portray a good flow between designs, yet each design can stand on it’s own and there’s variety in terms of style to broaden their appeal. They’ve also managed to cover quite a lot of bases with what is essentially three different designs (if we count the Africa design as being re-jigged a few times).
They’ve got just about everything covered on their website that I like to see when I visit a new shop for the first time. Returns, shipping, about us, they’re all covered; you’d be surprised how many companies forget to mention that stuff. I would like to see a size guide added to the site, I know now that them being a slim fit is mentioned on the product pages, but it would . It’s rarely going to be a deal-breaker, but it certainly would be a good way to put people at ease who are unsure of whether to place an order or not (my e-commerce mantra is to try and remove the obstacles that stop people from buying something).
It would be nice to hear a bit more about the team behind the brand too (possibly as an addition to the about us page). When buying from an independent company I like to feel involved with them, and putting a face to who I’m buying from and who will be packing up my order does make it feel a bit more personal. That’s mostly my own choice though, and come to think of it I don’t have a photo of myself on my own shop and it doesn’t seem to stop people making an order.
In terms of quality, I am impressed, I didn’t spot who the blank tee is made by but it feels good quality, and my model informs me that it hasn’t stretched or deformed after a few washing cycles. Even more important than the tee not deforming, the gold foil is holding up well too. There’s almost an expectation that gold foil is something that can only be worn a few times before it starts to fade or even peel, and when you’re wearing something like gold foil it’s something that does draw attention to itself and you, so you need it to look good. Obviously, me and my model haven’t had these shirts for years so we can only give initial long-term impressions, but I do have confidence that these are a good quality foil print that should last well. Total presumption on my part as I haven’t seen any of their regular colour prints, but generally speaking if a company has got their speciality prints sorted then I would expect their standard designs to be a good quality too.
I should probably point out that the gold print logo t-shirt isn’t actually available on their site, I’m not sure if that means we are super special or it was a launch shirt which is no longer available (as it does have 20 and 16 on the arms). Logo shirts do tend to appeal more to friends and fans of the brand though, as I have often talked about in the past, so regular readers will likely be more interested in the art based shirts anyway.
It will be interesting to see how Swankee move forward in the future, the addition of pillows and tote bags on their site does look like a nod towards being a lifestyle brand. Usually that seems like an added extra for most brands that isn’t properly thought through and I often feel that the artwork from most tee companies doesn’t necessarily work for non-clothing products, but in this case I think they work well, you wouldn’t really want to see the Swankee logo on a pillow (unless you owned the brand), but the lion and the scarab designs look cool.
Definitely one to watch and hop on their newsletter for updates.