Over the past few months we were very hard at work with the manufacturing of our new inspirational tee line. There’s a ton of effort that goes into the creation of a product. From ideation to launch there's so much involved, so we thought we would take you through the whole process and give you a behind the scenes look at the creation of our new tees.
Sourcing the right screen printing company
If you thought designing was the difficult part, think again. Ask anyone who has worked on creating an actual physical product and they will tell you that the manufacturing and development phase of it all can be overwhelmingly time consuming and challenging. Our first attempt at sourcing a printing company was a terrible one. We tried DTG (Direct to Garment) printing. We thought great, they take our designs and use magic to transfer them to the tee and the outcome will look exactly like what we created on screen! Think again. Since the DTG uses a digital printer, the ink is actually made up of CMYK colours. So to make black ink they use multiple colours. As you can see from the photo below there is a slight coloured halo around our black printed design. Also to note, when DTG is printed with dark colours on dark fabric, well the ink doesn't even bleed into the fabric. It just sits on top and is extremely glossy. We quickly learned that DTG was definitely not the way to go.
We then began our search for a screen printing company. Some were practically running their shop out of their garage and some were based in countries half way around the world. We finally stumbled across a local Toronto based shop who had been in business for years and seemed to know their stuff. Their samples were outstanding and they could answer any question we threw at them. Primarily they used water based inks or sometimes a light soft hand. This kept the super soft feel we liked and actually embedded the ink into the fabric which we love because wash after wash, it's not coming-out.
Finding the right shirts
So if finding the right screen company to work with wasn't hard enough, we also had issues with selecting the right t-shirt to print on. What I would recommend to all those who are pursuing a t-shirt line, make sure you order a bunch of samples. For only $50-$100 you can order a dozen or so shirts to make sure the fit and colours are all what you want. A couple samples we ordered the tees were so thin, they were almost see through. Also we ran every shirt through the wash to make sure the shrinkage was minimal and that colour didn't fade. As you can see from the pic below one shirt we ordered the collar actually started to ripple and tighten up due to shrinkage. In the end we went with a reputably tee company based in the USA. There shirts were all made with preshrunk fabric and were much softer and heavier than most tees.
The design process
With all the t-shirt research we were doing, we also committed a ton of time to designing. We knew we wanted to create a line that was almost minimal, and simple, however we also wanted to include a few hand lettered stuff we've done in the past. Below you will see a bunch of initial designs we had and a bit of the process we went through over the past few months.
Designing our tags
Our tags were well thought out prior to production. We really wanted to create something visual that would stand out, something BIG. I believe the max size for a printed tag was 7 inches and we maxed that out with the width of our design. We wanted to have our logo present and clear and have the sizing and washing details smaller. Below you will find some initial designs and then our final design.
Designing our hangtags
Another element we had to design were the hangtags. This is where we really had a bit of fun by tying in the quote to the tee. Without the quote attached to the tee the whole premise of our shirts would be lost. The quote was essential in the thinking behind all our shirts so we wanted to make that evident. We also wanted to tie in our branding in some way so we decided to do a folding card that attached to all our tees. The string, size of the tag, hole punch placement and even the pear shaped safety pins were all taken into consideration when designing.
Photographing our tees
Once all the shirts were printed we were able to shoot some product photography. We shot both on fig and off fig over the span of a week. The off figure photography was shot downtown Toronto in Liberty Village. We chose this location because of all it's old buildings and history. It gave us that urban feel we wanted. The off figure photos were taken in my living room. There's a ton of natural light that fills my living room so I utilized the two large windows and captured everything using a Canon 5D and 17-70mm Sigma lens. This lens was great because it allowed me to shoot some great macro shots as well as pulled back shots of the whole tee.
Preparing for launch day
Take it easy and relax
Once everything was sent out it was time to finally rest. If we were to recommend a few tips to others who are considering starting their own tee line we would say to do your research, spend time and money on photography, and believe in what you are selling. If you never want to wear it, why would others.