Tides are turning. In a digital world, apparel is a becoming a more crucial part of how companies build their culture and their brand. In fact, some argue that it is becoming absolutely necessary to represent yourself physically as well as digitally. Real Thread has been on the forefront of equipping brands to create culture through apparel. Here are essential tips from their team in developing merchandise for your office.
1. Equip People to Share
Many companies fail to realize the key essence of any type of company merchandise. Outside of looking cool or hitting a campaign deadline, company merchandise exists for people to use and to share.
The best place to start with planning merchandise is in the practical. What is your team using daily? From the clothes they wear on their back to what they carry on their key chains, the greatest merchandise will always be found in what can be integrated into lives immediately. The goal here, much like in the digital world, is a frictionless user experience. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Meet people where they are and improve their life in that place.
Choose a piece of merchandise that can be shared across generations, cultures and climates. Items like super soft apparel, provide a tool that your team will love to wear (genuinely) and love to talk about. In providing goods that people will actually use, you’re uniting your staff (everyone will use it), spreading your story (they’ll wear it in the wild), and building your culture (others will want it).
2. Lead with Quality
The physical objects you create are often the longest lasting monuments to your organization. Far past any campaign, the apparel you make will exist, reminding people of the value of your brand. Companies everywhere print apparel. Below is a crash course on the standard practices of printing shirts and a couple details that can set your apparel apart.
Traditionally, screen printers use a plastic based ink called plastisol. This inks coats your shirt with a plastic layer of your graphic. The benefits to using this ink is that it can print on anything, it’s cheap and a lot of printers can do it. The detractor is that the print cracks, peels and eventually comes off of the shirt.
To establish a high quality print on a garment, water based inks are your best bet. Water based inks dye your garment directly, transferring your design directly into the fabric. Your screen printed graphic becomes a literal part of the shirt. This allows for a soft and breathable design that lasts as long as the shirt does.
Water based inks are much more of an art process because this ink dyes shirts. Unlike the process of coating a shirt with a plastic, water based inks have different responses to different fabrics that your printer must be educated on.
After choosing your main ink type, you’ll want to choose an incredibly soft shirt. Your screen printer will have a wide selection of shirts. Break free from your normal selection and investigate to see if there is a softer fit out there.
3. Build Something You Love
Take time to ask your team a couple of questions before you order your shirts. Find out what their favorite apparel is, why they love it and who made it. Study these pieces and find commonalities amongst them. Take this time to beta test your merchandise options.
Discuss these commonalities with your screen printer. Advancements in the industry have allowed printers to put out a better quality apparel than major retailers like Urban Outfitters, J. Crew and Banana Republic. Chances are your printer can give you a piece that can match your teams dream shirt.
With a little bit of foresight, you can ask the questions that unlock exactly the shirt you are looking for.
4. Get Ahead of the Game
There’s a lot to learn about creating great apparel, but you can get ahead of the game. Real Thread has built a Shirt Starter Kit that includes all the necessary resources for your design team to begin crafting apparel. Download the exclusive kit today and begin building apparel your team will love to wear and talk about.
Every great piece of merchandise comes from a fantastic company. Keep learning and growing your company with courses from General Assembly.