Wednesday, 23 April 2008

A t-shirt is a t-shirt..... Am I right?

Well a t-shirt has a collar, two arm holes and no buttons so, insofar that this is true, the statement is correct.

But look a little deeper and you find that the variety is enormous:

Crew necks, V-necks, deep V-necks.....
Short sleeves, long sleeves, three quarter sleeves, no sleeves......
Loose fit, tight fit, lady fit.......
Light weight, medium weight, heavy weight, layered.....
Cotton, vintage cotton, organic cotton, bamboo, polyester, polyester / elastane etc etc

- and that's before we start considering the trivial details of colour!

So for promotional wear, should you be thinking beyond "t-shirt"? And if so what will the drivers be?

How often will the shirt be worn?

Some t-shirts will be worn once. We'll hate to suggest they are then discarded, but it happens. Here it normally makes sense that the t-shirt is an economy light weight cotton fabric. But if these t-shirts are to be worn again and again - the more built in quality in the fabric and the printing the better because after all they promote YOUR company or cause. A more resilient heavier weight might be a wise investment.

How warm is the climate?

Although there is normally a correlation between weight and ruggedness, some light weight fabrics are long lasting. So if it's going to be hot, perhaps a better investment is in fabric quality rather than weight.

And then there's humidity. Perhaps the wearers are to be engaged in sporting activities? This needs to be taken account of in making a choice and there are quick dry t-shirts now available made from fast wicking 100% textured polyester that will in some circumstances be a more comfortable alternative to cotton.

Do you want to fuss about size?

If distributing many t-shirts and you don't know who is to be turning up, then it's a good idea to invest in t-shirts that look good on many differently shaped people. Some styles need the right fit to look good, others are far more tolerant.

What exactly is being printed?

When it comes to printing, using plastisol or water based inks, cotton gives safe, predictable results. that said, any fabric making up a promotional wear t-shirt is likely to be suitable for most applications but it's good to take advice for unusual size, shape or colour designs.

What's in fashion?

The t-shirt manufacturer with the longer tighter style will tell you one thing, the one with the shorter looser cut another! But it's a t-shirt, and as long as the cut is right and fabric is quality, it will look good. Think about the range of people who will be wearing it; high fashion does not necessarily work when it comes to promotional wear.

What are your organisation's ethical policies?

Taking account of everything that precedes this question, have you also taken account of the stated ethical policies for purchasing of the organisation that you work for? They may not be communicated well or you may not think they mean it. But if some embarrassing publicity is going to be directed at your organisation because you've made the decision to purchase from a source that is at best obscure in its ethics then it may be you that carries the can.

And the wearer's ethics?

Now we are getting to the core of the business decision. The promotional wear is likely to carry two logos - yours and (unobtrusively to everyone except the person who wears it) that of the t-shirt maker. And quality wise, the recipient may have an adverse reaction to something they perceive to be a throwaway garment.

How about your ethics?

If the purchase decision is yours and you'd be be fussy about what you bought for yourself then why not apply the same principles in buying for your company? The arguments for buying ethically are strong and it need not cost materially more than other options. You'll probably be easily able to justify the cost differential to anyone who questions you!

And if you really want to impress?

Buy organic cotton for it's environmental ethics and its kindness to skin. Or bamboo, for its ethics and its feel of luxurious softness.

There you have it. A t-shirt is not a t-shirt. It's a statement about you and the extent to which you consider the people who wear it. If this all makes the decision too complicated then a quick discussion with our team here at Pier 32 will soon help you out!

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