I got this t-shirt a couple of weeks ago.
I’m telling you that because I don’t want you to think this is a dashed off, unthinking review. Usually, I write stuff fairly quickly; this one I’ve thought about carefully, because it takes a lot of kindness and gumption to send out a review copy of a shirt and this review isn’t going to be a whitewashed positive outlook on it.
I’ve mellowed in the past couple of weeks to ‘She Loves Me’ by NoEmotion (£17.00). When I got it out the bag I hated it. Hated hated hated it. But since then, I’ve worn it a couple of times, and taken a better look at it. It’s not perfect, and I hope that Clarke and the team at NoEmotion will take this as something to build on rather than a shooting down of their tee brand.
If you look around their shop, you’ll see that NoEmotion sell a lot of great designs. I love ‘Hit the Bottle’ and ‘Rock Baby’, and the pictures on the site look great. But when I got ‘She Loves Me’ I got a closer look at the quality of the shirt and the printing and I’d say that – if like me, you like the look of some of these designs – hold back a couple of months until NoEmotion get a bit bigger.
It’s difficult starting out a t-shirt brand. You’ve got to invest in tee stock, printing, a website. It’s not a cheap thing, and it’s difficult to do. One of the biggest costs is the actual printing of designs onto tees. Screenprinting can be expensive when done in any sort of decent detail, and takes a big chunk out of the startup change you have set aside.
Which is why I was disappointed when I pulled the t-shirt out of the package. As far as I can tell, NoEmotion have chosen to put their design on the shirt via iron-on transfers. That’s absolutely fine if you’re just starting out and producing prototype designs. Heaven knows I’m aware that screenprinting can cost an arm and a leg. And though it’s well done…well, I was spending hours with an iron, an inkjet printer and a blank t-shirt when I was 12. It’s acceptable if you’re making shirts for yourself, but when you’re charging £17 for a shirt it might be a little less welcomed by customers.
The design is great, by the way. I’m not keen on the text itself (it’s very 90s anti-grunge, where you use a mix of caps and lowercase in a simple sans serif – the sort of thing you’d see in spreads in The Face or something), and think it detracts from an interestingly positioned and quite poignant graphic. But when you pull on the shirt, you get that crinkly, slightly starched feeling that comes from an iron-on transfer. (Full marks for having the patience to cut out around individual letters, though: my forays into iron-on designs were always scuppered when it came to text.)
A lot of effort has been put into this shirt, which is what makes me so sad to be a downer. You can tell, from the fact that each letter’s been carefully placed on the shirt, to the way that the sleeves have been rolled up and stitched. There’s also an attempt at branding via two name tags – one at the bottom and front of the shirt and one at the back of the neck – which is admirable and has taken a lot of effort, but is a pet hate of mine.
In my experience, I’ve never seen a person carefully examine a brand tag attached to the outside of my t-shirt. I’ve seen people admire a design itself from afar, and come up to ask me where I got the shirt – and I’ve happily told them, giving the brand some more custom. Having not one but two tags on the shirt makes me a walking billboard for a company. Not only that, but the placement of the front tag ruins the flower design.
NoEmotion’s tag on the left, and a more subtle version on the right
If you really want a conspicious branding on a tee, either produce a logo tee or have a small loop tag that can be stitched into the side stitching on the shirt – the way a number of companies do it. I’ve shown how NoEmotion do it above, and how other companies do it: the tag is circled in red. That way people can eyeball it if they really want, or the wearer can point it out to an interested observer.
Andy recently wrote about the importance of (constructive) criticism, and why HYA isn’t just a senseless propaganda machine for tee companies. “Constructive criticism is very important,” he wrote, “and even insults can be useful. Getting a pat on the back is great, you feel good and it reassures you that you’re doing the right thing with your business, but what about when people keep telling you things are great when your t-shirts aren’t selling?”
I hope this hasn’t been insulting, and I hope that the criticisms levied against NoEmotion are helpful. They have a lot of great designs which would look great properly screenprinted and free of conspicious commercial interruption. The designs are worth your money – once the kinks are sorted out.
It’s difficult to commit the money needed to produce a professional product, I know. But if NoEmotion improve their printing process and tone down the tags, I’d be more than happy to come back, post and tell everyone at HYA that they should run – not walk – to buy these t-shirts.