It has been a long time coming, but American Apparel has been bought by Gildan Activewear after filing chapter 11 bankruptcy. While we are not sure what exactly this means for the fate of American Apparel's product line, we hope the integrity of their products do not suffer and hopefully we will see more competitive pricing in the future but, it is too soon to tell. However, the good news is that there are plenty of other manufacturers with comparable quality at a fraction of the cost.
Today, I'm going to talk a little bit about order minimums. Currently, we have an 24 piece minimum on all orders. Keep in mind that minimum is per design. Also keep in mind that you do not need to order 24 of the same size shirt, color, or even the same type of garment. You can order 12 tees and 12 hoodies, in various sizes - as long as the design being printed is the same on all 24 garments.
Why do we require a minimum?
Screen printing garments takes multiple steps prior to actually printing the shirts. Whether you order 24 or 1,000 shirts, the same amount of time goes into creating a screen and setting the job up. This is the reason for bulk orders being cheaper. We find that 24 shirts gives us the ability to offer reasonable prices to our clients, while still making it worth it for us to setup the job. We also get free shipping from our blank garment wholesaler when we order over 24 pieces which, in turn, saves our clients money as well.
Hopefully this clears up some of the questions as to why we have minimums. Most screen printers out there will usually have a 36 piece minimum, but we are trying to offer our services to those that may not want or need that many shirts. I always advise clients to try and order at least 50 shirts at a time to get better pricing per garment, but we understand that may not always be plausible for some of our clients.
Lets talk budgets. We all have them, and most the time they are never as large as we want them to be. So how do you get custom t-shirts printed with a shoe string budget? In this post I will layout multiple steps to getting your garments printed as cheap as possible.
Step 1 - Limit the amount of colors in your design.
If you are getting your shirts printed through a screen printer, like us, you will want to limit the amount of colors in your design. Why? Because screen printers need to setup a new screen for every color in the design. More colors means more screens, which equals more time and money to create your shirts. It also slows down the production of the shirts, which again equals more time and money to create your custom apparel. So when budgeting your shirts, definitely try to keep the color count low to keep the cost low. You'll find that our best prices are on the 1-3 color designs.
Step 2 - Limit the amount of print locations.
This step isn't always easy to do. In a lot of cases, clients will need a print on the front and back of the shirts. You can still get a very affordable shirt when printing on the front and back of the shirt, but again, keep the color count for the designs in mind. If you need a 3 color front and a 6 color back print - don't be surprised when you get hit with a high price tag. Since the fronts and backs of the shirts can't be printed simultaneously, it takes twice as long to print the order. Remember, anything that will increase the time, labor and supplies required, will in turn increase the price. So if and when possible, try to have 1 print location for the best possible price.
Step 3 - Choose cost effective garments.
We always recommend going with a Gildan, Jerzees, Hanes or Fruit of the Loom brand t-shirt when price is a factor. These t-shirts are nothing flashy, but they have competitive prices, plenty of colors to choose from, and are usually quick and easy to get if you need the order in a hurry. Brands like American Apparel come with a hefty price bump because they are american made and use premium materials. Those looking for a similar fit and feel to American Apparel may want to consider Next Level t-shirts. They are extremely similar and cost almost half the price. Next Level is still a significant price bump compared to the Gildan style shirts, so keep that in mind as well.
Step 4 - Order larger quantities.
Most screen printers have better pricing as the quantity of shirts you order goes up. Why? Because setting up the job takes up a good portion of the production time. Once the screens and ink are in place, the printing is actually the fastest part. Whether you order 18 shirts or 1000 shirts, the setup time for that job will remain the same. So when you divide the cost of setup between 1000 shirts compared to 18 shirts, you get a much cheaper price per shirt on the larger quantity. Now, while we do have free setup and do not charge any screen fees, we still account for the time it takes to do all of the tasks required to print your garments. It may not always be feasible to order 100 shirts at a time, but always try to order on the higher side, it'll benefit you in the long run. You'll find that our prices get extremely competitive once you get into the 50-99 shirt quantity, and it only gets better from there.
Step 5 - Have print ready artwork.
This step is often overlooked. It is extremely important to have good quality artwork. When screen printing, the print quality will only be as crisp and clear as the artwork provided. Poor quality artwork will result in a poor quality print. We do offer artwork services to clean up and sharpen the designs if they are not up to par, but that does add extra costs. If a design has to be redrawn or vectorized, it can add an additional $20 to $120 to your invoice, depending on how poor the quality is. So always try to get us the best quality artwork possible. We will always do our best to avoid any artwork charges.
There you have it - 5 steps to keep in mind when budgeting for you next order of screen printed apparel. If you follow these guide lines you will be well on your way to getting cost effective, custom t-shirts printed. If you have any questions or need anything in this post clarified, or if you think I missed anything, feel free to contact me at any time, I'm happy to help! I hope this helps you save time and money with your future printing needs.