From the category archives:


My name’s Sean and I work for a custom t-shirt printing company called Merchbro. We often use the Gildan 5000 t-shirt for our standard pricing option. It accounts for a good percentage of our sales and is a very popular shirt. However, I wasn’t really satisfied with the color guide images that were available out there. Instead of packing up my mouse and going home, I put together a color guide for myself. It’s attached here.

Feel free to use this color guide for personal use. And if you run a t-shirt printing company, go ahead and photoshop our Merchbro logo out of the corner and and add your own. That’s right, I just said that. Maybe not the brightest suggestion to make on my part, but I’m just not that bright. And let’s be honest. You’d have done it anyway!

I also compiled a high res image of every color-way of this shirt and put them in this folder. These should be great for mocking up your custom shirts!

We’ll post more of these in the coming weeks on our blog.
Well, that’s all the giving I have in me today. Hope these are helpful!

Andy: Well that seems like a useful resource, thanks Sean!


AEditions – Kickstarter Project

by Umang on September 22, 2014


A former classmate of mine, John Freeborn recently launched a Kickstarter project for a t-shirt club called AEditions. John has always had a knack for developing unique t-shirts, some of which I bought from him in college and still have in my collection. John has gathered a consortium of artists to assist in making this Kickstarter project different from your average t-shirt club.

Here is an excerpt from their campaign:

When I was young and discovered skateboarding I started to really  look at logos and graphics in a different way. I didn’t know it at the  time, but since then I’ve spent a lot of time designing graphics. In  college, I started a skateboard company and helped friends with a  clothing brand. I did some of the designs myself but many came from the  minds and hands of my friends. I had my favorite tees from big name  companies, but to be honest the shirts that I loved the most were  designed by my friends and I.

I want to rekindle that love with this Kickstarter projectÆ is a t-shirt club where every shirt is designed by an  awesome artist or designer and is only available to club members in  limited numbers. I’ve got a great roster of artists signed on to do the  designs. For the first year I’ve already confirmed Rich Jacobs, Hershel  Baltrotsky, Jim Houser, Ben Horton, Andrew Jeffrey Wright and Dallas  Clayton.

Check out the artists that he has lined up at Æ and hopefully you like what you see.





Project NY – Summer 2014

by Umang on August 1, 2014

I had the pleasure of attending this year’s Project New York show (July 20-22, 2014) at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. As expected the show was professionally organized and there was a good handful of professional tshirt labels flashing their wares. The show attracts buyers and press, so if you are serious about getting your label on the rack of a fine establishment, check out the organizer’s website.

The following labels are in no particular order:

1. Brand: MNKR

Home: Los Angeles, CA

IMG_20140720_125228MNKR is producing a large array of bold graphic tshirts spanning various themes.

Monetary Damage: $28-30


2. Brand: PalmerCash

Home: Idaho (not kidding, no offence Idaho)


PalmerCash’s line covers all kinds of genres, such as NASA, cities, states, beer and other random things.

Monetary Damage: $28


3. Brand: Choke Shirt Company

Home: Seattle, WA

IMG_20140720_125944Choke Shirt Company’s graphics span various themes so chances are, you will find something that’s for you.

Monetary Damage: $26


4. Brand: Solid Threads

Home: Hoboken, NJ



You know those tshirt labels that sell all kinds “fun” graphics on a tshirt? The ones that print their stuff on Hanes Beefy Tees with a low price point? Well this is one of those labels but to my pleasant surprise, they are printing them on good quality tshirts which probably attributes to the cost.

Monetary Damage: $23.95


5. Brand: Bakline

Home: Brooklyn, NY



For the love of all things Rugby. Bakline, strives to create solid designs with one theme in mind.

Monetary Damage: $23-32


6. Brand: Infinite Society

Home: New York, NY



One of the few Urban themed brands at the show, Infinite Society stood out among the other labels. All of their shirts are printed on either black or white tshirts which is usually a hard sale. Keep an eye out for their upcoming designs which are line art drawings of things, New York.

Monetary Damage: $25


7. Brand: Father Panik Industries

Home: Brooklyn, NY



If you are tired of “Brooklyn Industries” and want a fresh “Brooklyn” or NYC themed look, give Father Panik Industries a glance.

Monetary Damage: $32-34


8. Brand: Sharp Shirter

Home: Washington DC



Sharp Shirter really like their animals in a fantasy setting. If your looking for artsy and odd give their site a look.

Monetary Damage: $24


9. Brand: Vardagen

Home: St. Fishers, IN (yup Indiana)



Vardagen isn’t shy to produce various graphic themes to fill your closet.

Monetary Damage: $26-34


10. Brand: Quarter Water

Home: New York, NY



Quarter Water albeit not really my style, stood out among the other labels at the show. They are taking New York City urban and giving it an MIA (rapper) flavor. Is there such a thing as Bodega Chic?

Monetary Damage: $60-65 (not really Bodega prices)


It was certainly interesting to meet all these tee makers and chat about their labels, face to face. Most were enthusiastic about their product and full of stories about the trials and tribulations of getting a tshirt brand off the ground. Marketing was the key topic with the chatty vendors. After being in the biz, it was easy to extract the newbies from the veterans. The veterans were less enthused to share their stories vs. the newbies who displayed excitement.

I had inquired if the vendors had participated in Project New York before and most replied that this was there first endeavor. Some vendors had participated in the Magic Las Vegas show and stated that the Magic Las Vegas (same organizers) show was five times the size of this event. If you have the funding and want to be a vendor, you may want to try Las Vegas first.

The overall graphic themes were diverse but it appears that owls, moustaches and dinosaur themes of the past have been replaced with NASA, elephants and bold font t-shirts as they were plentiful. If you are thinking about starting a t-shirt line, you may want to avoid these themes and think about the next big thing.



You’ve got your ecommerce store. You’ve got a killer shirt design, and you just want people to be able to order them without having to so much as lift a finger. Enter PrintAura’s seamless DTG App service – if you’re using Shopify, Storenvy, Magento, WooCommerce, or other e-commerce platforms, PrintAura’s new DTG print & ship app integrates with your existing store to allow you to fulfill shirt orders without having to do a thing. Talk about passive income! PrintAura also does custom tags for your shirts, and complete white label shipping – everythign looks like it literally comes right from your brand. You can sign up for free and integrate the app with your store today at

Andy: This is a really interesting option for artists that want to go down the DTG route but don’t want to be lumped in with everyone else on RedBubble and similar platforms. It would be interesting to see what kind of print quality they offered.

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So you’ve just raised $68,000 on Kickstarter for your innovative framing system, now what?

Well, that was the task that faced Ugmonk, and they (because it can’t just be Jeff anymore, right?) have produced a fascinating blog post detailing what problems they faced with such a successful funding period. Well worth taking a couple of minutes over if you are thinking of funding your next line with Kickstarter.

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Storenvy now let you create custom pages

by Andy on October 17, 2013

One of the things that would put me off using a platform like Storenvy is that even with the large amount of traffic (and therefore sales) that they can send your way the shops can feel a bit cookie-cutter unless you really start hacking away at it, or hire a professional. I don’t like to feel constrained with a platform, which is why Rigu and the HYA shop are on OpenCart, though WooCommerce is tempting too, and I’ve used it on a client project and found it to be decent, and that’s something that I would feel if I were on Big Cartel or Storenvy, you’re playing by their rules and decisions.

It’s great to see them open things up a bit and allow people to make custom pages for their store, it makes the shop itself a bit more of a hub rather than having to fudge it and send people off to an external site to give them info they want (like sizing charts). I think this is a really welcome addition to the offering over there and makes things much more attractive as a store owner, especially since it’s a free service too.


I’m not really in the business of selling t-shirts, despite what the HYA shop might tell you, so I don’t often check in on how much getting 100 t-shirts printed costs, but $435 with free US shipping sounds like a fairly sweet deal to me.

That’s right, it’s back! We’re offering 100 shirts, 1 or 2 color prints, single location with FREE U.S. Shipping! This offer applies to Premium Standard and Plastisol prints. See the following information for pricing:

Gildan 5000 = $435 ($465 for 2 color)
Gildan 2000 = $460 ($490 for 2 color)
Tultex 0202/0213 = $500 ($530 for 2 color)
Gildan 64000/64000L = $500 ($530 for 2 color)
Anvil 980 = $525 ($555 for 2 color)
NL 3600/3300L = $575 ($605 for 2 color)
Canvas 3001/Bella 6004 = $575 ($605 for 2 color)
AA 2001/2102 = $700 ($730 for 2 color)
Finishings are available, but not included in the prices above
Add $1.75/shirt for 2XL & 3XL sizes
Sale ends October 18, 2013

Threadbird Apparel Offers


It’s pretty rare that I’ll post news like this, but I thought that it would be something good for other brand owners to think about.

Having some interesting packaging really helps to separate your brand from the rest, and give you a more professional look which makes a customer feel as if the t-shirt (or any product) has more value to it. Good on Vapour for pushing forward and doing something nice with their branding.

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United Pixel Workers have been making waves over the last week with their guide to how they went from shipping 0 shirts a month to more than a thousand. It’s an interesting guide because it covers a lot of things that you don’t usually see being discussed like how to deal with customer service, payment processing and shipping once you start to break out and make a full-time job of selling tees. If you’re just starting out or you’re already well established I very much recommend checking out their comprehensive and fascinating post.


Margin London 2013 Show Recap

by Andy on February 15, 2013

margin london registration

Last weekend me and Mrs HYA took a trip down to London from the cold, dark North to enjoy the perks of the bustling metropolis, and also to check out the Margin tradeshow after HYAs absence from the show for five long years. I was going to pop down last Summer but show founder Odysseas had to cancel due to the Olympics putting a spanner in the works. This years second edition will be going ahead and HYA fully intends to be there too after enjoying this visit so much. This trip was also the first time ever that I met one of the other bloggers at HYA, namely Doug who has been part of the team for a year now. Turns out he know A LOT about art and I don’t, which I think made for a pretty deadly double act when talking to brands.

Doing what I do you tend to ‘meet’ a lot of people, but there’s only so much that you can gain over e-mail compared to meeting people face-to-face and seeing what they’re passionate about and the amount of enthusiasm they have for their brand. It’s also great to see the products in the ‘flesh’ since lookbook photos and mockups can only tell us so much. Also, it turns out that when I talk, I tend to talk a lot, visiting just the t-shirt-y brands at the show me and Doug managed to clock up getting on for four hours chatting with people about the ins-and-outs of the industry, at one point we had to take a water break. Were we thorough? Yes we were.

Rather predictably for the UK (even in the tropical South) it was raining, but fortunately the show was well located at The Music Rooms about a minute or so from Bond Street station (and hipster burger restaurant Meat Liquor, where me, Doug, and Mrs HYA enjoyed burgers and cocktails in the dark). After signing in at the reception we went into the main room filled with brands eagerly waiting to show off their clothing. The initial impression you get shows a big difference between Margin and other tradeshows, everyone is equal, and it isn’t so big that it’s overwhelming. All the brands at Margin are small up-and-comers, a lot of which have never exhibited at a show like this before, so it’s good for them to get their feet wet in a smaller environment with like-minded people rather than being stuck in the corner at a larger show and being over-shadowed by bigger brands. It’s also a great opportunity for smaller boutiques to pick up interesting new labels to sell in their stores, though there is a lot of interest from larger entities too, I did see a few Drapers business cards around the show, which is arguably a bit bigger of a deal than HYA. I don’t know of any other tradeshow that caters to smaller brands in the same way that Margin does, if you do let me know because I’d love to check it out.

We visited on the Sunday, and a few of the people we spoke to had said it was quite quiet in terms of foot traffic, but with the combination of the wet weather and it not being a work day I don’t find that too surprising. It was Sunday after all, I imagine that most buyers for shops don’t want to be working on a Sunday, and most people in the press are probably the same, so whilst it’s really convenient that I could make a weekend of it and go on the Sunday, in business terms I’m sure there was more activity on the Monday and hopefully lots of deals come from the show because there were a lot of brands that I’m sure would be a good fit for all kinds of shops. For us, it being a bit quieter was a real plus, we weren’t fighting for people’s attention and could have some good conversations with brands, which is what it was all about for Team HYA.

I’ve been purposely vague about specific brands in this post because I don’t really want to single anyone out just yet. Over the next couple of weeks me and Doug will be providing commentary and an overview of most of the brands we spoke to and reporting back on what we found, so this recap iss mostly just to give you a flavour of the show. It really was great to be there, after the show on the train home I felt invigorated, being around creative people helps to get ideas going and makes you feel positive, and I hope that other brands involved felt the same. See you in the Summer, Margin!

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Post image for Excellent advice on how to get your t-shirt line funded on Kickstarter

There’s a really interesting post over at IATT about how to approach trying to raise funds for your t-shirt brand using crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and indiegogo. If you’ve been considering that as an avenue for your potential brand then give it a look, it’s not too long but certainly gets you thinking.


Margin London Preview

by Margin London on February 4, 2013

Regular Hide Your Arms readers will have spotted our recent posts highlighting a few of the brands exhibiting at Margin London on the 10th & 11th February.

With just six days to go until the show opens to buyers and press, here’s a preview of some more of the labels making their tradeshow debut at the exhibition.

We thought we’d better not post any more in-depth profiles otherwise the Hide Your Arms crew wouldn’t have any exclusives to report on when they visit the show!

Here are some images to whet the appetite and look forward to the Hide Your Arms reports after the show.

For information about exhibiting at or visiting Margin, get in touch via the website.


LATIN LOVER, a new t-shirt label from Columbia for men & women, with great illustrations & graphics:

Latin Lover at Margin London

Latin Lover at Margin London


EVIL, the first-season from this new menswear range will be debuted at Margin. The collection features a whole range of clothing (shirting, trousers, chinos, denim) and printed tees & sweatshirts:

Evil at Margin London Evil at Margin London Evil at Margin London


SLANG, a new men’s and women’s t-shirt brand from Portugal, drawing influences from art, music, and skate, and making their debut at Margin:

Slang at Margin London Slang at Margin London Slang at Margin London


NETTY RATTI, adorable cross-stitched designs in this range of ethical women’s tops and tees:

Netty Ratti at Margin London Netty Ratti at Margin London Netty Ratti at Margin London


OUT OF PRINT first made their debut at Margin in August 2011 and have exhibited at every edition since. They’re back again in February 2013 to unveil their latest tees featuring artwork from classic books:

Out of Print at Margin London Out of Print at Margin London


OURS at Margin London

by Margin London on February 1, 2013

Ours at Margin London
Fresh from California comes this new range of menswear by Ours. With tailoring alongside premium streetwear, the range should appeal to a wide range of men looking for quality relaxed clothing.

Blending 1980?s Caribbean influences with New England tailoring, Ours could be summed up as “Island Prep”. The range of laidback surf-inspired menswear consists of a full roster of clothing including shirts, trousers, shorts, caps, vests, and unique illustrated tees.

As Hide Your Arms is all about the tees, we’re featuring images of Ours’ t-shirts, but you can see more images with the clothing at their website.

We love the beach-inspired hand-drawn illustrations coupled with text and retro imagery simply coloured in.

Ours at Margin London

Following their debut at Agenda in Long Beach, Ours will be making their European debut in February 2013. Margin London is the only show in Europe to see this first season by new Californian brand Ours when their European distributors, Boy Parker, exhibit the range.

Renowned amongst key buyers and press as the launchpad for new brands, Margin has been providing an affordable platform for new brands since 2002 and will be the only trade exhibition across Europe to see the range of bags in person.

Ours at Margin London

Since the exhibitions first started back in 2002, Margin can lay claim to providing the UK launching point of overseas brands such as Upper Playground, Diamond Supply Co, Stereo Sound Agency, Double Goose, Loreak Mendian, Syndrome, Nooka, Mimobots, Qwstion, Hixsept (now Etudes Studio), and many others, who all made their European or UK trade debuts at Margin, which celebrated 10 years of exhibitions in 2012.

Ours will be exhibiting at Margin in February 2013 which takes place on the 10th & 11th, and you can find OursBoy Parker, and Margin on Facebook.

Ours at Margin London Ours at Margin London Ours at Margin London Ours at Margin London


Less Clothing at Margin London

by Margin London on January 31, 2013


Exciting times lie ahead for young streetwear brand Less Clothing.

As well as just launching their new website, Less will be making their trade show debut at Margin, the longest-running independent exhibition in London.


Handcrafted in London, Less Clothing produce men’s and women’s streetwear with a sharp attention to detail, from the signature cuffs to the embossed leather labels.


We love the vibe of the label and their lookbook, the sun-drenched images and their association with musicians and DJs give the brand a real “Ibiza” vibe that we’re happy to buy into for some sunshine (especially during such a cold grey winter!).

Renowned amongst key buyers and press as the launchpad for new brands, Margin has been providing an affordable platform for new brands since 2002.


Men’s and women’s labels such as 1ina100, Lazy Oaf, Supremebeing, Eva Evanovitch, Sugarhill Boutique, Ruby Rocks, Diamond Supply Co, Ashley Marc Hovelle, King Apparel, My Yard, New Love Club, Your Eyes Lie, Seventyseven, Emily & Fin, and Long Clothing, all made their UK trade debuts at Margin, which celebrated 10 years of exhibitions in 2012.

Less will be exhibiting at Margin in February 2013 which takes place on the 10th & 11th.



diy screen prints kits

Screen printing is not an easy job, there’s no denying that, but even I have thought it would be pretty fun to print my own tees, and I’m a guy that already has more than 300 of them (and I’ve stopped accepting samples, they all go to the other bloggers now). It seems that Print Liberation have felt that attraction too, a few years back they released a book about DIY screen printing, and now they’ve gone a step further by launching, a site dedicated to helping your ideas printed and out in the world.

Imagine you’re new to the industry and want to get your feet wet in the world of printing, maybe doing a few tees for your friends, or printing some posters you’ve designed, a kit that has everything in it from a company that you know makes cool shirts (that were good quality, if my trip to their shop in Philly back in ’09 is a fair representation, if not particularly up to date) would be a pretty appealing situation. You give them $250, they send to a box with everything in it and you’d be good to go. Well, apart from the actual t-shirts, but I guess that wholesaling blank tees isn’t a business they want to get into.

What do you think guys, seems pretty cool to me, any printers out there want to drop in their 2 cents in the comments?


Dr Popcorn at Margin London

by Margin London on January 28, 2013

DPA + Dr Popcorn Apparel at Margin London

Hailing from Sheffield, DPA, an acronym for Dr Popcorn Apparel, is a new brand producing handcrafted tees for men and women. With a dark edge to the graphics, the range is printed on high-quality, fair-trade garments.

Along with releasing their 22-strong range, DPA are making their trade exhibition debut in February 2013 at Margin London.

DPA + Dr Popcorn Apparel at Margin London

So many streetwear brands concentrate on mens’ items only to it’s refreshing to see that DPA have not forgotten about women’s pieces. These designs would also sit well in a women’s boutique and we can imagine some of these prints looking great under a sharp, tailored jacket.

All items come well-presented in their own hand-printed box which adds a level of detail and care that raises the sinister aesthetic to that of a collectible.

DPA + Dr Popcorn Apparel at Margin London

Renowned amongst key buyers and press as the launchpad for new brands, Margin has been providing an affordable platform for new brands since 2002.

Renowned amongst key buyers and press as the launchpad for new brands, Margin has been providing an affordable platform for new brands since 2002.

DPA + Dr Popcorn Apparel at Margin London

Men’s and women’s labels such as 1ina100, Lazy Oaf, Supremebeing, Eva Evanovitch, Sugarhill Boutique, Ruby Rocks, Diamond Supply Co, Ashley Marc Hovelle, King Apparel, My Yard, New Love Club, Your Eyes Lie, Seventyseven, Emily & Fin, and Long Clothing, all made their UK trade debuts at Margin, which celebrated 10 years of exhibitions in 2012.

DPA will be exhibiting at Margin in February 2013 which takes place on the 10th & 11th.

DPA + Dr Popcorn Apparel at Margin London


how to get your kickstarter project funded

You all know that I have a love/hate relationship with t-shirt brands on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, it can be a great tool for businesses but in many cases it has also shown itself to be a way for people with awful business ideas and designs to waste their own time and money trying to create a brand out of a poor concept.

That said, I think that it’s a good idea to give your project the best chance of success, and if you’re dedicated enough to follow this exhaustive guide about Kickstarter funding then I’d like to think that you’d have put as much effort into your design process to actually have a solid campaign.


Margin London at HideYourArms

by Margin London on December 17, 2012

Margin London at HideYourArms

Margin London has been kindly invited to contribute to HideYourArms. We’ll be posting some news about up-and-coming labels that will be exhibiting at Margin in February 2013, which takes place on the 10th & 11th, but firstly we think we should introduce ourselves.

Started back in 2002 as an affordable platform for new designers, Margin is the longest-running independent trade exhibition in London. The show presents designer women’s and men’s tailoring and accessories, as well as streetwear for men and women, to invited store buyers and press.

The humble tee has long been a starting point for numerous labels, and we’ve seen many an exhibitor start off with a t-shirt offering which has grown over the seasons to include a full range of clothing. Supremebeing, Lazy Oaf, Seventyseven, Dephect, YourEyesLie, and many others all started at Margin with tees before growing their stockist base and extending their range to include clothing, bags, jewellery (or jewelry for Americans!), and hats.

Margin has been providing a launchpad for brands to meet with key buyers and press for 10 years to date, and 2012 marked a decade of exhibitions.

Margin London Streetwear Fashion Tradeshow Exhibition 10 Year Book

To commemorate the occasion, a limited-edition 10 year book was printed for visitors to the show, but it’s also available to download as a PDF or as a super-interactive book for iPad. The iPad version features extensive galleries of previous seasons, as well as videos, and can be downloaded here.

Margin London Streetwear Fashion Tradeshow Exhibition 10 Year Book for iPad

Here’s the link to posts where HideYourArms mentions Margin including brand updates from when they last visited (well overdue for a revisit but Andy & the HideYourArms London correspondent are returning in February 2013!).

Margin is an intimate showroom exhibition in a white gallery space in the heart of Central London, and the only tradeshow in the UK where buyers and press can discover new & emerging design talent (most making their debut launch).  When we say “NEW”, we don’t just mean new to Margin, we mean brand-spanking, never-been-seen-before, new!

Margin London Streetwear Fashion Tradeshow Exhibition

Since the exhibitions first started back in 2002, Margin can lay claim to providing the successful trade launch-pad for many brands such as Chateau Roux, Your Eyes Lie, Supremebeing, Dephect, Emily & Fin, Miyson, 1 in a 100, Missmilne, Worn By, Ashley Marc Hovelle, Humdrum, Worn Free, Sugarhill, King Apparel, Terratag, Lazy Oaf, Famous Forever, and Ruby Rocks, as well as the UK launching point of overseas brands including Silas, Upper Playground, Tank Theory, Eastpak Apparel, Loreak Mendian, Syndrome, Al & Alicia, Gama-Go, Mimobots, Double Goose, Stereo Sound Agency, Diamond Supply Co, Urban Originals, and Uzi amongst many others.

Margin London at HideYourArmsMargin has welcomed key stores to the exhibitions since first launching in 2002; from online players like ASOS, My-Wardrobe, and Urban Industry; multiples such as Ark, Joy, Beams, and Ships; department stores, such as Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Liberty, House of Fraser, Psyche, Fenwick, El Corte Ingles, Galleries Lafayette, & Engelhorn Trendhaus; as well as the key independents Margin is renowned for, including Colette, Hip, Sakis, Wood, Royal Cheese, Natterjacks, 290sqm, Coggles, Market, Atoo, My Yard, Donuts, Caliroots, and Get Cutie, to name a few.

Margin has welcomed numerous stylists and fashion editors from magazines including Vogue, Wad, Elle, Wallpaper, Arena, i-D, FHM, Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Vice, DJ, Flux, WWD, Drapers, Sportswear International, and Sport & Street; as well as contributors from directional blogs such as BNTL, Coolhunting, Hypequest, Slamxhype, Hypebeast, and, of course, Hideyourarms.

Margin London Streetwear Fashion Tradeshow Exhibition

For more info about Margin, visit the website here, find us on Facebook or Twitter, and we’ll be back soon to post about some great new labels that will be exhibiting at Margin in February 2013.


Post image for $0.30 of shirts and 10% off stickers at Threadbird

I know that saving $0.30 when you’re buying a single shirt doesn’t sound like much, and it isn’t, but when you’re buying a hundred for your clothing line getting that $30 off is a nice little bonus.

Apparel Offers @ Threadbird
Sticker Offers @ Threadbird


Post image for A warning to t-shirt brands, if people ask you for free stuff, don’t give them it.

The following is a real conversation that happened between a t-shirt brand who have been written about on HYA and someone that contacted them:

Mr X: Hi, i’m Mr X and i have a massive following on such and such site/network. Would you be willing for us to represent your brand by sending us an x amount of tees, sweatshirts and hoodies and in return we’ll wear your merch everywhere and your sales will increase ten fold…
Brand Y: Hi, thanks for contacting us. Unfortunately we won’t be sponsoring anyone at the moment, but we’ll keep yo
ur information on file and when we are ready to start a sponsorship, we’ll be in contact with you, regarding the particulars of sponsorship.
Mr X: Thanks for the reply, can’t you just send some merch anyways? and i’ll wear it everywhere…
Brand Y: Hi, no sorry we can’t just give out our merchandise, unless we’re sponsoring you and like we said in the previous email, we’ll contact you nearer the time.
Mr X: Thanks for nothing, your brand is total shit and i hope you go bankrupt.
Brand Y: Hi, thanks for the kind words, have a great day.

Chances are, if you own a t-shirt brand someone will have asked you for free stuff, and you’ll probably have considered it as part of your marketing strategy. I am of the belief that in the vast majority of cases ‘sponsoring’ people and bands will not give you a good return on your investment, especially if those people are coming to you asking to be sponsored or simply to get free stuff and then promote your brand by wearing it.

I can’t give numbers to back this up since I’ve never sponsored anyone (though a misguided actress who was starring a British film once asked for free stuff believing I sold everything I blogged about), and the only person getting a HYA freebie is my girlfriend (and even she insisted on paying for a hoodie in the HYA store), but I’ve never heard any brand talk about how beneficial it was for them in terms of sales to sponsor a local band. Sure, if Jay-Z wears your t-shirt you’re probably going to get some attention and sales, but Jay-Z isn’t e-mailing people asking for a free t-shirt. I think that’s where the crux of the matter lies, people that are popular enough to have a good effect upon your brand merely by them wearing your stuff are too busy and too popular to be sending e-mails to relatively unknown t-shirt brands.

It’s important to remember that people contacting you asking for free stuff most likely aren’t even fans of your brand, you’re just another name on a list being sent a form e-mail (that usually hasn’t even been personalised to your brand). All these people care about is getting stuff from you, they have no interest in promoting your brand. You spent your time and money on a clothing line to be proud of and if you just give stuff away to anyone then you’re wasting your money and devaluing your product in the process. If someone e-mails you asking for free stuff and they actually do have a massive following, ask them for proof, ask how they’ve helped other brands before and get them to name those brands, if they can’t give you decent answers then they aren’t worth your time.

I do believe that there are cases where sponsoring people and bands is a good idea, but you have to go to them, not the other way around. It is fun to see people you like wearing your clothing, getting a celebrity endorsement means something to quite a lot of tee buyers, and even if they aren’t a celebrity or famous band you might just want to give them a tee because you like them. So if you want to sponsor someone then go for it, just have realistic expectations about what you can get out of it.

Of course, there are also some t-shirt blogs that accept t-shirts for review, and I think I’m right in saying that HYA has more hands-on review than any other t-shirt site (possibly even any site, I don’t know how many sites do shirt reviews), so it would be hypocritical for me to not explain why I think it is okay to send shirts to us and not others. I believe that the same rule applies, if a t-shirt blog asks you for a shirt and you haven’t heard of them then it’s probable that sending a shirt will be a waste of time and money. Over the course of almost 7 years running HYA I have asked for a shirt once, and even that one wasn’t for me, and I didn’t feel particularly good about asking (we didn’t get the shirt in the end), but I’ve managed to amass a collection of 300 shirts without asking people for them which is proof that if you don’t beg people will respect you and your opinion and want to give you a shirt for review because they know it will be a real review. All sample offers are now sent to HYA bloggers in the US and UK (to make shipping more reasonable for the brand) and I encourage constructive criticism of the shirt the blogger has received. Each review ranks well in search engines for your brand’s name and is something that a brand can point to as an independent review of their product quality. That is something real and that is something that can be measured and is targeted at people that are visiting this site with the intention of buying t-shirts, and yet I still don’t ask people for a sample. Of course, t-shirt blogs don’t have a massive influence, there’s no TechCrunch of the t-shirt world, getting written about on HYA won’t sell out your line in a matter of hours, but you’re not just throwing your money into a black hole and helping give some kid that managed to inflate their Twitter followers a free shirt.

Bottom line, if you want to give away your products as part of your marketing then do your research and see if you will get good value out of your investment, even if it is just to say that your favourite band likes your designs.


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