Jun 082009
 

This is the first in a series of articles relating to the history of the t-shirt in the United States. The first manufacturers, trends and how all that has led us to today’s modern tee.

The t-shirt as we know it first came to the USA during World War I. This was the result of US soldiers taking notice of the lightweight cotton undershirts European soldiers were wearing, while the US soldiers were sweating it out in wool uniforms. Mostly worn under a soldier’s uniform it did not take long until they became an external garment. Worn primarily by navy men for the first thirty years of the 20th century, they became standard issue for all military servicemen in World War II. T-shirts issued during the WWII were white, thus presenting a problem to the Marines who realized that the color made them an easy target. The Marines were not about to give up their t-shirts so they came up with a clever way to disguise them. The Marines used coffee grounds to dye their t-shirts in the battlefield, and were later issued sage-green shirts. Once the war was over they brought them home and the t-shirt was here to stay.

The t-shirts worn in the early 20th century (i.e. 1913-1938) were weighing in at around 1.5 – 2 ounces. Today’s t-shirts can weigh up to 6.1 ounces, but most will fall in around 5.5 ounces. Early champions of the t-shirt movement included Hanes T-Shirts, Fruit of the Loom and Sears Roebuck. Fruit of the Loom did not start to knit t-shirts until around 1938. These early versions were rather rough and uncomfortable compared to what we you can get today. In 1938 Sears introduced a t-shirt for 24 cents and were marketing this shirt as an outer garment or under shirt. The t-shirts produced by these companies were basically replicas of early military issued shirts and had a wider neck and shorter sleeve than today’s full cut shirt. They were also much tighter fitting and this style lasted into the sixties.

Around 1955 with celebrities, Marlon Brando, Elvis, and James Dean being seen in a t-shirt and jeans the youth of America started to scoop-up t-shirts. It was about this time that the t-shirt was no longer considered simply a navy t-shirt but a mainstream product and one that was selling fast. It was also around this time that the t-shirt style began to resemble what we know today. The neck of the shirt became tighter, next the overall length longer, but the shorter sleeve remained for a time. This can be attributed to the fact that the t-shirt was considered a man’s garment. Modern day t-shirts have no end to the number of styles available. You will find all different styles and cuts for men, women, children, and even infants. Blank t-shirts, screen printed, heat transferred, embroidered, airbrushed, tye-dyed, there truly is no end to what can be done with this amazing clothing item. From 500 million shirts sold in 1985 to well over a billion in 2005 the t-shirt is a big part of our world.

This topic will be continued.

Jun 082009
 

The number of websites selling t-shirts can be overwhelming. In this article I will address some of the issues related to buying wholesale t-shirts. Here are some things that you should not do, and things that I would recommend. As well as guidelines that you should use to chose the correct supplier.

First of all I think we need to establish what type of clothing you are looking for.

There are 2 questions that when answered will tell you quite a bit about the type of company you are looking for:

  1. The shirts you are looking for, are they printed or blank? If printed, are you looking for a particular design or are you looking for someone to do the printing for you?
  2. If the shirts are blank, then are you willing to buy in bulk? When starting a clothing company, having shirts printed or outfitting an existing group, you should buy in bulk. This is commonsense but the more you buy the better the price you should get.

Some companies will automatically give better prices according to the dollar amount purchased, or the quantity purchased. In my opinion I believe that a company who allows the dollar amount to affect the discount is the better option. This is because you can reach the discount threshold on a number of different products, and are not forced to buy a large number of one product when it is not needed. OutletShirts discounts are based on the purchase amount not product amount. Either way if the company does not offer discounts then there is no benefit to buying in bulk, and you should keep looking.

There are also the brick and mortar stores that you could buy from. The pros and cons of these stores are about the same for any industry. You can go in and see the product. Feel it, try it on and of course go home with it the same day. The biggest downfall to these stores is that in most cases the overhead associated with a physical showroom prevents them from offering the kind of prices that you can find online. They have to make their lease or mortgage payment, pay their employees and stock their shelves. When you add advertising and utilities, it is almost impossible with them to compete with online stores.

I have heard some people talking about the great price on t-shirts they saw at one of those big-box retailers. They have the same brick and mortar problems — Overhead. The prices were about $5-7 per shirt. This is about $3 more per piece than we charge. If you are trying to outfit a group of 100 the choice is an easy one to make.

What about shipping? In many cases this is the deciding factor, and to a lot of people is a big reason why they will not shop online, second only to security. I would agree with these people. The problem is that many people keep their shipping prices hidden until the checkout process. Look for FREE SHIPPING. It does not have to be free on every order but there should be a breaking point. If I am going to spend $400 with a company I want to get my stuff shipped for free. This is not an unreasonable request. Some clothing suppliers do not offer free shipping ever. The problem is that they get free shipping from the manufacturer or supplier if the order is over a specified dollar value. Why are they not passing that on to you? I will let you answer that question. Offering good prices and then charging OutletShirts offers free shipping on orders over $100. This does not apply to orders that we screen print or embroider. This is because we have to ship the order 2 times. We have to ship it to our custom clothing department, so it can be altered, and then to you when it is done. We will not charge you for both of the shipping charges.

On orders over $100 or orders where expedited shipping has been paid for is on average 2 days for 90% of the United States. Alaska and Hawaii are usually slower and may require an additional charge. Due to import and export laws we have chosen not to offer international shipping.

If you are going to have your clothing screen printed or embroidered, here are some suggestions. We can provide the service for you however we have a two-week turn around period. If you need your apparel before 2 weeks I would recommend buying from an online supplier, and taking the clothing to a local company who has a schedule that is open enough to accommodate your deadline. You can usually get a better price from an online store than a screen printing and embroidery shop. Some of these companies will not allow you to supply your own apparel, but in my experience most do not care. There will not be a delay when buying from us. We can ship directly to the company you have chosen to do the work.

Be careful when ordering. Online wholesalers typically do not operate a traditional store, and even if they do chances are you did not walk in to buy your merchandise. So returns and exchanges and not handled in a brick and mortar fashion. Make sure that you are happy with the size, color, quantity and model before placing your order. Or you will be subjected to a restocking fee and return shipping costs.

In conclusion buying from an online clothing wholesaler will save you money. You may not get to see the actual shirts or try them on. However if you are buying a brand that you are familiar with the only concern is size and color. Shipping time and cost should be carefully considered. Try to get free shipping where you can. Remember to look for SSL (“https://”) so that you know your credit card details are safe. And look for friendly toll free customer support.