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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Direct to Garment Return on Investment

Is There a Quick and Easy Way to Estimate ROI?

If you are looking to comprehensively project when you will see your return on any investment, it is going to take a lot of research. You should know the who you are selling to, how many pieces you can expect to sell, and for what price you will sell them before you start to make any other projections.

But for getting a quick general idea of return on investment, there are several  ROI calculators available for DTG on the web. Here, we will talk about some key features of a few of them, and point you to where you can try them out for yourself.

In alphabetical order, the three we are going to review come from:
  • Anajet
  • BelQuette
  • Brother
Anajet ROI Calculator (Click on the link to try the calculator)
We could only find this calculator as an .xls file. It is not very pretty, but it does offer a wide array of editable options for your calculations. Of the three calculators in this article, the Anajet calculator is the only one that currently allows the user to edit the cost of ink. Anajet provides a Cost and Pricing Guide on the third page of the document.

Sample of Anajet's ROI Calculator
A user may want to get a more accurate average price than what is listed on the guide, such as in the case of a dark garment print. Here Anajet provides a range of $1.25 to $2.50, and while this may be a fair range for a dark garment, it also leaves a big question mark when it to accurately predicting the cost of an average Anajet print. Anajet does provide a default number in this cell of $0.50, which seems to be an arbitrary number, unless representative of printing on dark garments. In either case, it shouldn't be used for any reliable projecting of average printing cost with white ink. Anajet does allow the user to edit the price of the machine, and this is a great feature because it allows a buyer to use the calculator to compare ROI with other machines.

BelQuette ROI Calculator (Click on the link to try the calculator)
The BelQuette ROI calculator is the cleanest looking of the three in this article. Like the Anajet calculator, the BelQuette calculator allows the user to modify the price of the printer for comparison purposes, and as stated before, this is a a great feature. Unlike the Anajet model, the BelQuette ink cost field is a static number. They estimate an average cost of $1.75 for a dark garment print, and $0.25 for a light garment print. $1.75 for a dark garment print falls within the averages given on Anajet's Cost and Pricing Guide.

Sample of BelQuette's ROI Calculator

One thing to note with the BelQuette version is that they include an option for adding in their EDGE pretreatment system. If this is not a desired piece of equipment, be sure that the quantity is set to zero, or else the entire calculation will be off. A terrific feature of BelQuette's calculator is that it will tell the user the estimated number of shirts that will need to be printed in order to recoup the original investment, while at the same time calculating the number of shirts that can be produced in a given hour based on the number of machines in use. This seems like a very practical way to estimate return.

Brother ROI Calculator (Click on the link to try the calculator)
Of the three discussed in the article, the Brother ROI calculator has the fewest number of editable fields. Like the Anajet calculator, Brother expects the user to enter the number of expected prints, instead of informing the user as to how many prints they can anticipate printing in a given time period with their machine. This can be helpful for comparison purposes, but only if the user already knows how many prints they can expect on any given machine.

Sample of Brother's ROI Calculator

Once again, like the other two calculators, the Brother allows the user to manipulate the cost of equipment. Brother also includes a table that shows a month by month sample of time until payoff and profitability, along with a bar graph depiction of the same information. For people who are "visual learners", these are nice features. Brother, like BelQuette, uses a static cost for ink per print. Unlike BelQuette, Brother combines the cost of ink and pretreat, where BelQuette shows the cost of pretreat in a separate field. Brother estimates total cost of ink and pretreat at $1.64.

Whether you are seriously considering purchasing a DTG printer, or you are just curious about the technology, using these calculators can be educational. Try one, or try them all! Have fun!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

City of Trenton Tragically Wastes Tax Payer Money on Sucky One-Color Print T-Shirts

...Oh Yeah, There is Also Something About an Alleged "Kickback Scheme"

Nasty 4-Headed Cleaning Monster T-Shirt Picture Courtesy of
The city of Trenton NJ paid almost $17,000 for the ugly shirts pictured to the right. To be sure, they would claim that they received a lot of shirts for that money. Who cares? They are boring and ugly, and do a poor job of promoting the program because people don't like to wear crappy stuff. Of course, you know that I am going to say that if they printed the shirts digitally on a Direct to Garment printer, that they could have printed many shades of green or even a thousand different colors, and still kept their price down. Maybe not as cheap as what they paid, but the shirts would have been far more attractive and kept peoples' attention. People like to wear nice stuff, so the Direct-to-Garment shirts would be worn more, thus giving the program more exposure.

But what am I talking about? Trenton should trust that their politicians know how to efficiently market their "Litter March", just like they know how to run their city. I mean, it's not like there's some weird scandal surrounding the T-shirt contract.

Here's the full story:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Big Bets Being Placed on DTG

Still Waiting to Get Into Digital Direct-to-Garment Printing? Recent Large Investments Say You Might Get Left Behind.

Revolution Growth Logo
At DTG Awareness, we have been chronicling the awakening of the world to the wonders of digital Direct-to-Garment printing. The recent introduction of a new line of DTG printers built by manufacturing giant, Epson, is one clear indication that the technology is taking hold. Their entry into the DTG printing industry represents a big growth in confidence in the young technology.

On the heals of the news of Epson's DTG line comes a story from the Washington Post, published just three days ago about venture firm Revolution Growth and it's decision to invest $40 million dollars into CustomInk, one of the largest online fulfillment houses in the U.S.; a feat in large part made possible by the use of, you guessed it, Direct-to-Garment printing.

Revolution Growth co-founder, former top AOL executive, and present owner of the Washington Capitols, Ted Leonsis, said of CustomInk, "It's a next-generation social shopping company".

Plans for the investment capital include a move to more spacious offices, expansion of a current production facility and of CustomInk operations, as well as plans to open an additional facility.

If you are a printing company and you have been questioning the viability of digital Direct-to-Garment, the big players are now giving you plenty of reason to assume that the technology will be a major part of future garment printing. If your business model doesn't work well with DTG, you may want to revisit your business model.

Friday, November 8, 2013

List of T-shirt Companies That Pay You for Your Designs

Make Money by Turning Your Designs Into Cash

This is one for the graphic artists out there. Here is a list of T-shirt companies that you can submit your designs to and, if they are chosen, you will get paid $$$.

"Design a shirt: it should be inspired by video games and/or geek culture, and... well, that's pretty much it. Make a cool t-shirt design, submit it to the contest, and let the J!NX Community vote! If a particular design has a high number of positive votes, the design moves on to the Final Judement(TM). An elite squad of J!NX judges will cast their righteous votes."

Pay: Selected designs win up to $750 cash + a $250 J!NX gift certificate.

"If your design is chosen for print, it could end up for sale as a real product that people all around the world can have!" Threadless offers themed challenges with cash prizes.

Pay: Prizes at time of publication shown ranging from $2,000-$2,500


"Create a T-Shirt design (maximum of TWO ink colors) that you think the world would like to wear.
The Subject of your design can be anything (ex. Funny or topical slogans, pop culture and political references, or strictly artistic designs)."

Pay: Winners receive $400 Cash + $100 store credit


"The ongoing contest at DesignByHümans consists of two (2) awards, Shirt of the Day or Rock Star
Awards." Original designs are submitted to the DBH website and voted on by the DBH world community. The winning shirt becomes available for purchase through DBH.

Pay: Shirt of the Day – $1,000.00 USD + six (6) units of the artist’s design.
Shirt of the Day is awarded Monday – Thursday to a new artist.
Rock Star Awards can pay up to additional $5,000.

Submit a design. If it is selected, it will be featured on the teefury website for 24 hours.

Pay: $1 per shirt sold and the artist retains full rights to their design.

Download their submission kit. Save your .png file on their template, and upload it using their form. Featured designs go into a head to head competition against other shirt designs.

Pay: $1 per shirt sold and the artist keeps full rights to their design to do what ever they want with after the Fight has ended. (Artist also gets a Free T-shirt with their design on it.)


Simply submit your design. If they decide to print it, they pay.

 Pay: $250

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Epson Makes Big Reseller Announcement on F2000 DTG Series

From the Epson Newsroom:

Epson Announces Specialized Reseller Network for New Direct-to-Garment SureColor F2000 Series Printers

Authorized Resellers Now Accepting Pre-Orders for Epson SureColor F2000 Series

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Oct. 21, 2013 – Epson America today announced a specialized reseller network for the company’s new direct-to-garment (DTG) printers – the  SureColor® F2000 Standard Edition and the SureColor F2000 White Edition. These purpose-built, direct-to-garment inkjet printers are poised to become the new benchmark in high-performance garment imaging and are now available for pre-order through Epson’s network of specialized DTG Authorized Professional Imaging Resellers.

“The direct-to-garment segment is rapidly growing and presents a significant opportunity for resellers,” said Stephen Johnson, national sales manager, Professional Imaging, Epson America, Inc. “Epson has a proven record supporting its professional imaging channel partners and we are delighted to now offer resellers a breakthrough DTG solution offering superior print quality and reliability, enabling them to capitalize on new market opportunities for increased profit and growth.”
Engineered by Epson specifically for DTG printing, the new SureColor F2000 Series printers deliver industrial-level production, image quality, and reliability. With the ability to print directly onto garments – t-shirts, hoodies, jackets, tote bags, and more – ranging from 100 percent cotton to 50/50 fabric blends, the SureColor F2000 Series offers additional revenue opportunities for garment print shops of any size.
Epson’s network of DTG authorized professional imaging resellers includes All American, Axiom America, BelQuette Inc., Equipment Zone, GroupeSTAHL, and Lawson Screen & Digital. Beginning today, authorized resellers are taking pre-orders for the SureColor F2000 Series printers, which will ship early next year. Each of the specialized resellers offer a team of Epson trained support staff coupled with seamless integration resources.
More about the Epson SureColor F2000 Series
The SureColor F2000 Series printers leverage Epson UltraChrome® DG ink  – an all new, garment ink formulation developed specifically for the new Epson® PrecisionCore TFP® print head technology delivering precise and repeatable performance, image quality and high reliability. The Epson SureColor F2000 Standard Edition is a high-speed CMYK-only model and the Epson SureColor F2000 White Edition offers the added benefit of white ink for printing on dark or color fabrics. Both models will be available for $19,995 MSRP.
The Epson SureColor F2000 Series printers will be on display at SGIA 2013 in Orlando, Fla. Oct. 23 – 25 at Epson’s booth (#420). For more information on the series and to reach an authorized reseller in your region, visit
About Epson
Epson is a global innovation leader whose product lineup ranges from inkjet printers and printing systems, 3LCD projectors and industrial robots to sensors and other microdevices. Dedicated to exceeding the vision of its customers worldwide, Epson delivers customer value based on compact, energy-saving, and high-precision technologies in markets spanning enterprise and the home to commerce and industry.
Led by the Japan-based Seiko Epson Corporation, the Epson Group comprises more than 68,000 employees in 96 companies around the world, and is proud of its ongoing contributions to the global environment and the communities in which it operates. Epson America, Inc. based in Long Beach, Calif. is Epson’s regional headquarters for the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. To learn more about Epson, please visit:
You may also connect with Epson America on Facebook (, Twitter ( and and YouTube (
# # #
Note: EPSON, Epson UltraChrome, SureColor and TFP are registered trademarks, PrecisionCore is a trademark and EPSON Exceed Your Vision is a registered logomark of Seiko Epson Corporation. Epson Preferred is a servicemark of Epson America, Inc. All other product brand names are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of their respective companies. Epson disclaims any and all rights in these marks.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

DTG vs. Screenprint: A Guest Post by Industry Professional Dustin Devos

Recently, a DTG Awareness reader named Brian made the following comment on one of my posts:

"For anyone trying to market shirts, screen printing is far more cost effective, holds better on the 50/50 and polyester fabrics many customers prefer. Shrunked up 100% cotton shirts are not going to bring repeat business. I understand if you are must selling a few here and there going DTG, but for those who are looking to run a serious business, screen printing is the way to go. I do run a screenprinting shop, so I may be a little biased ;)"

Instead of addressing this comment myself, I have invited veteran industry professional and founder of Angler Skins, Dustin Devos, to give his take.  Dustin's extensive resume includes heavy production of decorated garments for companies such as Bealls Department Stores, Evinrude, and Ranger Boats . He also produces all of the decorated apparel for Animal Planet's "Turtleman" show. On top of all of this, Dustin has the distinction of having been a professional fisherman, and is an official spokesperson for Igloo Coolers. This all said, Dustin has many professional relationships, his work is widely available, and his reputation and financial success hang on making quality products on time.

The Following is Dustin's take on Mr. Power's comment:

I think the very last segment of Brian’s comments sum up his response and I can certainly relate.

If you had asked me six to seven years ago about the vitality of Direct to Garment printing in the apparel market I would have shrugged it off as a fad and simply moved on.  However, being much like my father and always wanting to find something new and different to play with, I jumped in. However, it was a “special situation.”

I was raised on plastisol ink. It’s in my veins, under my nails, and at times I’m pretty sure I’ve sweat mineral spirits.  It’s always been a love/hate relationship for me.  I’ve seen the days of 12-16 spot color jobs with giant Precision Versa Ovals and the days of 4 color electric presses as well.  One thing my father always pushed for in this industry was “a better way.” 

Trying to keep that mindset, when DTG first hit the ground and after my initial laughter, I paused and decided to do a little digging.  Early on it was hard to figure out the reality between hype and marketing.  There was more hype built up about DTG than a cage match between Mike Tyson and Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies. But my curiosity got the best of me and I purchased a DTG from a guy who was having cash flow issues and dove in at a reasonable risk.   After about a week of making several calls to this DTG manufacturing company whose name I had trouble pronouncing, they had me up and running and I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Now let me say, at that time, the learning curve was more like a cliff.  It was a whole new love/hate relationship for me, but I could see the potential.  I had purchased my machine for five grand and after about another thousand dollars in parts and ink and just getting it back on track, it was time to try and sell some shirts.  It only took me two days to find someone who wanted a large number of tee shirts with a Photograph printed on them.  I made enough profit from that first job that it paid for the machine.  So great story right?  Well hold on.  I was still having some issues and there were a lot of variables that kept snake biting me, so I rolled it in the corner, parked it, and there it sat for 5 years!

Fast-forward to today and it’s a whole new ballgame. I now have an entire business segment based solely on DTG.  As I said to begin with, had you asked me some year’s back, I would have had the same response as Brian.  However now a little older, a little more experienced, the advances in the technology, and hopefully a little wiser, my response is this:

Let’s just use Brian’s comments as a basis and I will answer in response to him.

1    “For anyone trying to market shirts, screen printing is far more cost effective…”

I would have to say that this is way too broad of a statement for me.  First we have to compare apples to apples and as we all know there are so many fruits in this business you better make things really clear.  So let’s just look at two examples.

A.      One color white print on a black tee shirt and we will say it’s 48 pieces.
a.       Absolutely, Screen Printing is more cost effective for this print hands down.  The cost of white Plastisol vs. using a DTG pre-treat and a DTG white cannot compare in this example.

B.      9 Color Simulated Process Print on a black tee shirt, 48 pieces.
a.       STOP! You can’t screen print this, or least no one I know would even quote it because of the cost. Screens, set ups, and run times would be so expensive no one would do it.  However it can be printed with a DTG and the client will pay a premium for it just because you said yes. Not to mention the print quality will crush even the best simulated process.

Now adding even more variables to the equation, you may want to sell the shirts in example A via DTG if the person needs them in 24 hours or less because with DTG you don’t need film output. I could spend hours on the cost effectiveness argument, but in my mind it’s a non-issue. It really boils down to what the client wants.  If you have clients that only want large quantity orders of 250 or more pieces then sure screen-printing is currently still the producer.  But if you are like 80% of us who are finding our clients don’t want to order those big quantities, you had better be looking at DTG.
screens, or a trained screen printer.

   “…holds better on the 50/50 and polyester fabrics many customers prefer.”

A couple of thoughts come to mind for me here. One is that again you have to do the research.  Certainly there are some DTG’s whose print quality on these fabrics is not so hot.  But then there are others who have really nailed down the pre-treatments for these fabrics and are doing a great job.  But let me just focus on the two fabrics.
A.              50/50 shirts are a blend of cotton and polyester. For this, screen-printing obviously works well, however most people like 50/50 shirts for the feel. They are softer and cooler to wear but have a more natural feel because of the cotton.  Plastisol printing adds that “wonderful” feel of plastic to your shirt. However, when pretreated and printed with a quality DTG you have not only an amazing looking print but a great feel or “soft hand” as well.  Again though, comparing apples to apples, quantities and number of print colors still apply here.

B.              100% Polyester.  I know a thing or two here since we manufacture fully custom, cut, sew, and dye sublimated garments.  My dye sub beats everything else hands down! Sorry screen-print and DTG.  But even now we find ourselves using pretreat and DTG to print 100% poly shirts. Mainly white shirts but still it does a really nice job and it’s all about quantity, not big high ones but small quantity orders.  And you can believe it will only be a matter of time before the chemistry catches up and we will be printing on dark polyester with DTG.

3    “Shrunked up 100% cotton shirts are not going to bring repeat business [sic].”

Okay, I kind of wanted to laugh here, but wasn’t sure if Brian was kidding or not.  The idea that somehow using a DTG “shrunks” up a shirt to me is a bit laughable. (sorry Brian!) We use 20ft gas ovens to cure screen-printed shirts and our shirts exit the oven at around 360 degrees.  So, if I cure a DTG shirt for one minute at 340 degrees in only one area of the shirt, not the entire shirt, how is it that my DTG shirts get “shrunked up” and my screen-printed shirts do not?  Sorry, not trying to be a funny guy, I just don’t get that one!

   “I understand if you are must selling a few here and there going DTG, but for those who are looking to run a serious business, screen printing is the way to go. I do run a screen-printing shop, so I may be a little biased ;) [sic]”

I totally get it; if your sole business is based on screen-printing then this statement makes complete sense.  But for me it’s the reason I have begun to make the change.  We have steadily seen our screen print business shrink due to the economy of scale.  People have less money to spend and they will either spend it on smaller quantities or not spend it.  The second wave is the culture of “ I want it custom and I want it my way and oh by the way, I want it tomorrow”.  As for the serious business comment, I would ask is Custom Ink, Café Press, Zazzle, and others like them serious businesses?  They make tens of millions of dollars each year and they all run big DTG shops.

At the end of the day, for me, it is clear that DTG is here to stay.  With the rate of speed that the technology and chemistry is advancing, it won’t be long before DTG begins to do things none of us thought it could do.  So I would rather get on the bus now and grow with it then be left standing at the corner with a bunch of screen print machines that I can only use for fishing structure!

And for the record, we screen print, DTG, embroider, dye sublimate, vinyl transfer, and offer cut & sew.  I think we are a serious business!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Adding DTG to Your Shop: Spotlight on Big Fish Co.

When considering purchasing any new technology, it is prudent to get a first-hand user's view. Today, I had the privilege of sitting down with Carrie Renner, owner of Big Fish Co. T's, Signs, and Designs in Saint Petersburg, Florida. With two decades of experience, Carrie has used all various types of printing methods, which means she understands the benefits and challenges of the printing industry, and that she has had an opportunity to grasp what customers are looking for. Carrie started her business at a time when direct-to-garment printing was not even available. Looking for a way to print 6 shirts she needed for a spear fishing tournament, Carrie went to a screen printer who told her that she would have to print a minimum of 24 shirts. Being the entrepreneur she is, Carrie found a way to sell the rest of those shirts, plus some. Carrie notes that this "would have been the perfect DTG situation". Digital direct to garment is perfect for printing in low quantity, without sacrificing quality, allowing a customer to get one shirt, or even a few samples without the costs associated with screen printing set up.

As things would turn out, this small run of tournament T-shirts would become the start of Carrie's new printing business, which just celebrated it's 20th anniversary. Below, Carrie is pictured to the far right:

Carrie recalls that as soon as she began seeing direct-to-garment several years back, she loved it. But it wasn't until she was able to track down a used machine that she decided to take the plunge and start using it at Big Fish. Four years later, Carrie utilizes the direct to garment printer any time she has  short run T-shirts prints. Occasionally, Carrie will also use DTG for larger runs that require digital rendering, such as in a recent job she did which ended up being around a 200 shirt order. Carrie also states that for T-shirts, "DTG is far superior to transfer", although she still utilizes her color laser printer for printing on mouse-pads.

Among Big Fish's offerings, embroidery, signs, sublimation, and screen printing are also offered, and Carrie states that as of right now, direct-to-garment printing accounts for approximately 8-10% of her business. With an aging direct-to-garment machine, Carrie is contemplating the purchase of a new printer. She currently only prints with CMYK ink, and like some others, has heard that printing with white ink can be more difficult. Carrie conveys that until she has someone in her shop printing full time with DTG, she is going to wait to start using it  to print with white ink. "I have to know that I can step in and do it", she remarks. That's a philosophy that any small business owner can respect.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Big Time Oops When Slandering the T-shirt Industry

The irony, the irony

I have been posting regarding an article I read last week in The Guardian. The article demands that people stop wearing T-shirts with slogans on them. This gave me the idea to start a new line of ironic T-shirts which would have slogans and other rubbish that oppose slogans on T-shirts. It is yet to be seen whether or not the general public will get on board with such a venture. The more hilarious news that I have not yet shared is that right next to said article is a link for The Guardian's very own line of... yep... T-shirts... and many of them have slogans on them. Please feel free to peruse their online store: Guardian T-Shirt Online Store

For more proof, here is the screen shot I took where you can see both the Freeman article and the ad:

Of course, you may still be able to go to the article itself and see the ad. 

The Facebook page I created (People Fighting Against Words on T-Shirts) has not taken off yet, but I'm still holding out hope. Here is my latest anti slogan T-Shirt slogan T-Shirt; I think it has a ring to it:

Like the P.F.A.W.T. Facebook Page

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Anti-Slogan T-shirt Campaign

Official Emblem (the "P" is silent)
Yesterday, I posted a response to a Hadley Freeman article in the The Guardian regarding Hadley's demand to end slogan T-shirts. Hadley's bullying could be a result of her ignorance of how important slogans on T-shirts have been to our society. Aside from the many small companies that would be put out of business without the purchase of slogan bearing T-shirts, there have been many good charitable organizations that have spread their message on T-shirts. Similarly, some people may believe that a joke on a T-shirt is, "like walking around all day and telling the same gag over and over," but to the individual who sees the joke on the shirt, it may be the first time he has heard it. It might be the one laugh he gets that day. I don't know about you, but I don't want to trample other people's happiness. That being said, I want people who hate slogan T-shirts to be happy as well, so in the spirit of compromise, I have decided to help Hadley Freeman and others who share her sentiment spread their message. And what better way to campaign for this cause than to have people everywhere showing their support by wearing it on T-shirts? Because when a person decides to become a walking billboard, it shows true belief, and others take notice.

"...but to the individual who sees the joke on the shirt, it may be the first time he has heard it. It might be the one laugh he gets that day."

In an effort to spread the word, I have started a new Facebook page called People Fighting Against Words on T-shirts (P.F.A.W.T.). You and all your friends can go there and see the T-shirt designs as they come out. I also plan to let you design your own anti-slogan T-shirt slogan T-shirts on the new website I will be putting up. Help me start spreading the word by liking the page! Join the anti-slogan T-shirt slogan T-shirt revolution!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Some People Want to Take Away Your Right to Tee Speech!

Hadley Freeman, a fashion columnist with The Guardian, wants you to stop wearing T-shirts with slogans and jokes on them. Quoting some of the more controversial T-shirt slogans, Freeman attempts to build a case against... well, words. Apparently, she finds the entire idea of people having a little fun by saying stupid things with their shirts deplorable. She ends her column with the demand, "So a bit less of the slogans, people, and a bit more of the shhhh."

Freeman has a lot of gall. She works for a large internet publication and her words enjoy wide circulation. What is a guy who works in a factory for 40 hours a week to do when he wants to tell the world of the glories of beer? I know, how about a T-shirt that says, "Save water, drink beer!" The   freedom crushing article is not a complete waste, as it gave me an idea for a T-shirt. It's a good thing I have a direct to garment printer with which to express myself.

Do you understand now, Hadley?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Top 20 Creative and Clever T-Shirt Designs on Google+

Is Your Design Here?

Here is a list of some of the best t-shirt designs on Google+. Some are beautiful, some are cool, and some have a certain "Je ne sais quoi". Each one is numbered, but only to identify it. I want you to rate your favorite in the comment section below using it's number. If enough people respond, I'll post the top ten next week!





















Friday, August 23, 2013

EPSON Teases DTG Printer

Apparently, Epson took notice of my July 26th post "Google Trends: Public Interest in Digitally Printed Shirts Shows Growth"(hehe). This little image was dropped onto a forum yesterday:

See original post here.
You might be asking...

As I, Amator Vestamenta, the herald of Direct to Garment Awareness have been saying, DTG printing is going mainstream. A Direct to Garment, A.K.A t-shirt printer made by Epson is the proof. I rest my case.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Designs that Make Money: A Tale of Two Shirts

The Rihanna

An article in The Guardian reports that Rihanna has successfully stopped Topshop from selling a shirt with her image. The article, by Paula Cocozza, does a terrific job of explaining the circumstances which led to Rihanna having been able to accomplish what many other celebrities have not. Here is an excerpt,

"But what makes Topshop's sale of this T-shirt wrong? The world is full of unofficial merchandise, and Rihanna – as for all of us – does not own the copyright to her face. (Though she could try to trademark it, as Damon Hill once did with the image of his eyes staring out of his helmet.) The rights will have been owned by the photographer, who must have licensed or sold his image to Topshop. So what is the difference between straightforwardly reproducing an image on a T-shirt and "passing off"? "The question is simply this," says Mike Brookes, a lawyer who specialises in entertainment dispute resolution at Lee & Thompson. "If you walk into Topshop and see that T-shirt, do you think that it is an official, Rihanna-endorsed T-shirt, or do you think that it is a piece of merchandise that someone else is selling without her approval?" In this case, the judge decided that the former is true. Brookes says that there are three elements to proving passing off. The claimant needs to have established a reputation. The defendant needs to have misled the public. And third, there needs to have been damage. "I suspect that the argument will be that for every person who buys a Topshop Rihanna T-shirt it does them out of a sale of an official one," says Brookes."
Cocozza continues,

"Rachel Cook, an associate at Fox Williams, read the 16-page Rihanna judgment and says that this "was very much a case of specifics". The Topshop tank shows Rihanna wearing a dungaree-strap bra top – the same outfit that she wore on the video for We Found Love, albeit one of about 47 outfits, each of which you get to see for a few seconds. (See it here at 2:57 seconds.) The photograph was taken unofficially during the shoot in Northern Ireland. "The judge was talking about the way they [Topshop] were using it, the time they were using it. It almost looked like the marketing campaign for that record." Plus, Rihanna has an active endorsement programme, having designed a clothes line for River Island."

Capitalizing on a State Capitol 

Credit: Fouryou Designs
Contrast the Rihanna story with recent news from about the achievements of a small Raleigh, North Carolina based company called Fouryou Designs. In the article, Joe Fitzpatrick, owner of Fouryou Designs says that before he started his company, he created what he calls the "Raltree" shirt because he "wanted an original design not found in the Raleigh area." After many compliments, Fitzpatrick decided to see if the shirt would sell; soon after this, Fouryou Designs was born, and the report is, "business is booming". 

Both the Rihanna and Raltree shirts have garnered publicity. But, while a picture of a celebrity will attract attention, using it can be a gamble. An original design has the upside that it will not make your company susceptible to law suits. The difficulty for any designer is creating an original design that will possess the gravitas needed to sell. Using a celebrity image is a shortcut to mass appeal, and may lead to quick sales. But creating an original design that catches the eye can lead to long term branding. The key to success in any business is finding a niche, and building a business model that allows the exploitation the of upside potential of that niche with maximum efficiency and minimal risk. One could say that
designers who are looking to make the most of their designs would do well to incorporate the most lean rendition of their business model into their design. Creativity and practicality both have a part to play in t-shirt design. One key pertinent attribute that is shared by both the Raltree, and the Rihanna is that they each transcend the t-shirt, appealing to an idea that is bigger than the design itself. If Rihanna weren't who she is, and if Raleigh were not a beloved city to so many, then the shirts would most assuredly not have seen the sales numbers that they did. Bottom line, profitable designs are smart; they take into consideration the business they represent, and the culture they attempt to charm.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Google Trends: Public Interest in Digitally Printed Shirts Shows Growth

Screen Printing, Embroidery Losing Steam

The digital t-shirt printing business is still relatively new to the clothing industry. While the over-all interest for the digital solution is small in comparison to other garment decorating methods, such as screen printing, trends still show growing public interest in digitally printed shirts. The following graph reveals a mostly steady search volume for three similar terms which are all related to what is commonly referred to as "Direct to Garment", with a slight upward tick:

Digital tshirt printing, direct to garment printing, and digital shirt printing compared
While August of 2008 saw the highest spike in volume of these three searches, spikes have continued to reach near that point since. While peaks and dips appear throughout the graph, the year over year trend shows growth. June of 2013 saw an average 7.7% rise over June of 2012 in the three search terms.

The next graph shows the search volume trends of both screen printing and embroidery. For both decorating mediums, the highest peaks on the graph occurred prior to 2005, and the trend of interest has continued downward.

Screen printing and embroidery compared

This final graph compares all the previous search terms, and displays the fact that, compared to both embroidery and screen printing, digital printing does not even register a blip in search volume.

Digital printing compared to embroidery and screen printing

The upward movement of interest in digital printing, while not yet significant in view of the industry as a whole, is still a positive sign. The relatively small level of interest is not the story, since this is to be expected while the technology is in its infancy. The contrast between digital and traditional methods of garment decorating is a sign that digital has a different appeal. One could speculate that digital's ability to be utilized for printing short runs and "one off's" at a lower cost than screen print could be part of the reason for it's growing popularity. Another aspect of digital garment printing's charm is it's ability to create high detail, customized images with ease. The simple integration of digital technology means that embroiderers can begin offering a printed product that sells at a similar price point to embroidery. An article points out that in SGIA's 2012 DTG Benchmarking Report, 78% of DTG owners also own embroidery equipment. Finally, digital represents a leaner means of production and sales. No longer do companies have to keep large stock of single prints in inventory, tying up valuable capital with the risk of over purchase. Shirts can be left blank until the order is made, and the order does not have to be enormous to be worthwhile. Whatever the reasons, the outlook is positive for companies who are looking at adding the Direct to Garment technology. There is still more than plenty of room for growth as companies find new ways of leveraging digital's strengths, and consumer demand for it's unique product offering increases.