5 Oct 2016

Screen Printing and your Brand

rowan When Malachy Kilronan first came to us looking to set up his own clothing label, the first piece of advice we gave him was, well, you’re going to have to do something about that name! Since that day, things have gone from strength to strength for Mr Calvin Klein. He still pops in for the odd bit of advice. And naturally, The T-Shirt Company are only happy to oblige. Calvin is not the only person that has come to us looking to start their own label. We’ve had a fair few people come into us over the years so we thought that we’d put some tips together for all you aspiring clothing designers. Good designs are essential but it has to make sense financially. Here are some pointers to making the most of your budget, selling some t-shirts and earning some coin.

Screen Printing to a Budget

When starting out it's a bit of a balancing act. You may have grand visions of a t-shirt with elaborate, colourful screen printing all over it and your own branded tagging. In truth however, the more a t-shirt has going on, the more it costs to make. Each different colour on the t-shirt requires a different set-up and is priced separately. This isn't a problem for established brands pumping out large runs, but if you're just starting out and have a limited budget you’ve gotta be smart. This doesn’t need to be viewed as a restriction, in fact it should help exercise your creative muscle, some of the best t-shirt ideas and designs are simple and straightforward yet very effective. When you think about it, the all-time best selling tees are simple one or two colour prints, like the Ramones, “I heart New York”, “Jesus loves you”, Run DMC, Ché and of course, “I shot JR”. We're not trying to tell you to only print simple designs (we love to run off full colour stuff) but it's all about the money when you’re starting out.

Your Screen Print

Your print will be the biggest contributing factor to the final cost. The cost of your print is calculated by the number of colours in the print and the number of t-shirts in your order. The fewer the colours in your design and the more t-shirts in your order, the cheaper the unit price gets. So, if you're running with less than a hundred of a design, your best bet would be to keep the colours in your design to one or two; the set-up cost is too high for small runs of full colour prints. This really is something to take into account when creating your designs and logos because this will directly affect your profit margins when you bring your garments to the marketplace.

Screen Printing, but on which T-Shirt?

If it's a choice between a cheap blank tee with full colour prints in a few positions or choosing a really fine quality tee with a simple classy print on the front, there can only be one winner. Every t-shirt has its place in the grand plan. The Fruit of the Loom Valueweight serves a purpose as a great promotional and marketing tool. If One Direction are selling t-shirts at their gigs, It really doesn’t matter what quality the t-shirts are, kids will still demand that their parents buy them but most clothing markets are a little bit more competitive! If you’re planning to market your label as high-end, then our advice would be not to scrimp on the cost of the t-shirt itself. We recommend and promote two brands of clothing for this market; American Apparel and Continental Clothing. Both are internationally recognized, ethically made and provide a wide range of high quality clothing. If you are selling a quality t-shirt, yes, it will cost you more but there are two advantages. Firstly, you can increase your prices and in turn your profit margins and secondly, you are also putting your custom designed label out into the world with a high quality garment, this will reflect well on your label and brand identity.


Your pricing is going to be based on two things; how much you’ve paid us to make your vision a reality and how much you think your target market will be willing to spend on one of your products. If you have created your designs cost-effectively and purchased a quality t-shirt, there should be room to price the product at a figure that will allow a reasonable profit margin for your company. You should always know if there is a market for what you’re planning to sell. Your social circles should give you an indication of the demand for your products but an interest in the fashion industry and knowledge of what’s hot and what’s not certainly helps. This is something we cannot guide you with, although we are what we would consider super cool, with our finger on the pulse of the nation, each new plaited tattooed beard or cereal café that pops up in Dublin seems to suggest otherwise! T-shirts are a design classic though, they’ve been around since the early 20th century and as far as we’re concerned they’ll always be around and we are the experts, so we’ll stick to what we’re good at, for now.


This is something that we have seen in the past. Clothing labels setting up and having really good ideas and designs but no platform from which to connect with potential customers. This is something that all businesses have to be aware of, you need a presence, be this a shop in a particular trendy area where your niche audience frequent, having a vendor stock your products for resale, or a website and online sales initiative. You need to think of how, where and when you are going to sell your garments. Entering into the shark infested waters that is the fashion industry is not easy but if you are original, brave, bold and ready to put some work in, you can make a profitable return and build a reputable brand, and we will help you in any way we can.