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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Planet Money- How Much Would You Pay for a T-Shirt?

NPR and "This American Life" have a joint project in the works to show how a t-shirt is made from start to finish. The project they have titled "Planet Money", is a fundraising effort, and as of May 14, the project reached it's funding goal. The gist of the venture is the story of how a t-shirt is created from start to finish in order to reveal some of the things going on in the global economy. The team traveled around the world showing the step by step process, from cotton field, to shipping. How much would it cost you to purchase one of these shirts? A donation of $25.00, plus $15.00 shipping. Of course, this is a fundraiser, so one might expect that there would be some padding in the price. But wait! Someone has put one of these shirts up on ebay for $350.00! Will the seller get this price? That remains to be determined. Stranger things have happened. The fact is, people will pay a good price for something they see value in.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The DIY Mona Lisa

It Started with a Whimper

The "Maker Movement" is getting it's legs and starting to run. At a time when most Americans have become very comfortable being able to find anything and everything they want at a big box store, some are turning back to their own creativity as a means for self expression and gratification. And now, with the availability of smart technology at increasingly lower prices, some "Do it Yourselfers" are turning their initiative into profitable business. What this means for the big picture is that the term "DIY" is broadening to include small businesses that are able to accomplish big things with the right technology. The beauty of this change is that where it may be difficult to find a job working for a large corporation in a given industry, people will instead be able to compete with those corporations by starting their own businesses doing nearly the same things.


Exhibit A: The Record Business

A prime example of this can be found in the music industry. The digitization of music and availability of cheap, but high quality recording gear made it possible for virtually anyone with some musical talent to make their own record with a sound that rivals what can be produced in expensive recording studios. Quickly, people found means of distributing their music through online stores, and various music sites. Producing hard copies with beautiful artwork, and impressive packaging also became available through internet companies that sprang up to accommodate the market demand, and this was very popular for a time. Networking to get gigs was also easy, thanks to social networking sites that allowed people to connect and get heard without leaving their living room. The "Indy" genre, meaning "independent" became a force to be reckoned with.

From The University of New Hampshire Law Review, Vol. 10, No 2: "Today...modern consumers share, purchase, and discover new music instantly through the Internet, rather than CDs. In this Digital Age, more independent artists are able to thrive because of decreased market-entry barriers, namely lower costs, fostered by digital music production and distribution." So thorough has this transformation been that the aforementioned review states of the once behemoth record companies "the traditional recording industry dominated by the major labels, is under increased pressure and on the verge of collapse." There is more music available in more styles now than at any other point in history. The marketplace is flooded with sound, and  people are making money from it. The digitization trend does not mean that more people are able to get rich because of the technology, but instead, that more people are able to make a comfortable living doing what they enjoy.


Here Comes the Bang


The book industry is quickly changing as well. Chain bookstores are closing down and one of the pressures placed on them is the digital book market. The introduction of products like the "nook" from Barnes & Noble is a testament to this. It is now even possible to self publish with ease, and distribute one's work without the need of a physical store. The digital side of the Maker Movement is already revolutionizing many markets.

But, there are still some things which presently require physical representation in a way in which books and music do not. T-shirts have this attribute. It is not likely that anyone will be wearing hologram clothing in the very near future. There is, however, a way in which the digital trend is catching up with the clothing market: customization. With the advent of digital direct printing, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their own ability to create designs and have them printed at an affordable price. Where at one time a local screen printer might be limited to printing a four color design in large quantities, today's print shop can accommodate any number of prints, down to one shirt, and with literally thousands of colors at no additional cost. This allows for print shops to compete with large clothing companies and designers in a way that was not possible just 10 years ago. By offering the coolest designs, and the ability for the consumers to customize, small businesses are able to reach the growing DIY community easily. But, just as iTunes attracts both Indy musical artists, as well as big labels, large clothing companies are also taking advantage of the digital direct-to-garment technology. The high-tech/low cost machine's availability means that a new competitive market has been birthed, one where the local designer has a chance to make his mark without relying on the good graces of big investors. This is the time of the unleashing of creativity onto the marketplace. Which begs the question, "When will you make your Mona Lisa?"

Friday, May 17, 2013

Shaving for Tomorrow: Barbasol Introduces Clothing Line


Barbasol is Looking For a Few Good Men... to Wear Their Shirts

Getting in on a multi-billion dollar industry is a smart move. Barbasol shaving cream has decided to capitalize on their iconic brand by adding a t-shirt line to their sales offerings. In a article, Barbasol Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Jill Crumbacher states, "We thought, ‘Hey, there might be people passionate enough about our brand that they may want to wear it".

Undoubtedly, Barbasol will sell some shirts. Their status as a household name and their appeal to manliness will generate a certain interest among their many faithful. Their history of splashy ads, and recent foray into the "Shave Like A Man" commercial spots reveal an interesting and creative marketing vision, and at least part of the reason for their incredible success. Unfortunately, a glimpse into their shirt line uncovers a sort of lackluster approach to design. Assuming that the shirts are being screen printed, this is not surprising; actually it makes perfect sense. With screen printing, there are automatic limitations to design. This is because for each color, a screen must be prepared, which takes time. It is also very difficult to achieve gradients, which means that the image has a flatter look. Customization is also out of the question, since just adding something like a name in one color to the shirt would require making a new screen.

Get Close and Comfortable with the Future  


The advantage of screen printing is that very large orders of the exact same print are cheap. The profit margin goes up, as the number of shirts ordered goes up. But market demand is catching up with the digital age. The "Maker Movement" is a prime example of this trend. Companies like GE are recognizing the shift toward customization and are helping their customers put a bit of themselves into their products. This development could bode very well for marketers who are always looking for ways to get consumer buy-in. While it may still be possible to create a simple product and count on iconic status to move merchandise, with the increasing public availability of smarter technology, companies that offer products that allow for the "personal touch" can be among the early adopters, and by getting to the consumers first, secure a better market position in the future when customization is inevitably commonplace.

Barbasol has the opportunity to make a show of their status as a company for all generations. Shaving cream may not change much over time. But by adding the digital touch to their already incredible marketing, their shirt offerings could actually add a type of modern relevancy to their brand and a new way to connect with consumers as co-branders.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hey Abercrombie, How's That Medicine Taste?

#FitchTheHomeless to Remake Abercrombie & Fitch Brand

The strength of the smell of cologne and perfume that permeates the air around an Abercrombie &
Fitch store has always perturbed my senses. Their shirtless models standing in the front of the store have seemed a bit out of place as well. Albeit annoying, I never cared one way or the other that A&F had a style they were going for. I agree with the right to build a brand image. Think of all of the clothes, jewelry, and cars you have ever wanted, and you will realize that there was a view that you had of the people who had them, and that was what you wanted for yourself. People typically like to portray a good image. That being said, burning clothes to make sure that the people you don't want wearing them, namely, homeless people, can't get their hands on them, is just a scum of the earth thing to do. Just because you have the "right" to do something, doesn't make it worthwhile. Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie and & Fitch has let his narcissism get the best of him, and is now the target of a national campaign that is taking the internet by storm. Labeled, #FitchTheHomeless", the crusade was launched by a man named Greg Karber through a video that can be seen here: "

The Reaction

The reaction to the video has been mixed. Some comment that the campaign itself seems bad, as it comes across to them as an exploitation of the homeless. Amy Zimmerman comments on
"So here you go you clueless, ugly, dirty homeless people. Here are some A&F clothes for you so you can be part of my personal "paybacks are a bitch" mission. This whole thing feels uglier than than what the A&F CEO said. Mr. Karber is basically saying these people are so nasty, I am going to "use" them to prove my point because they are too stupid to know what I am doing and to be willing participants in my little scheme. I don't like this. It feel exploitive. I get the sentiment, but just leave these people alone."
Is the #FitchTheHomeless campaign the right way to spread the message? It seems that the answer would be dependent upon what Karber's core message actually is. People are not going to all of the sudden give up on trying to look cool, so don't blame Jeffries for wanting to make his company stand out. But if it is true that Jeffries has the clothes burnt so that the homeless can't wear them, then I say, "that sucks". Getting back at him by giving A&F clothes to the poor might make him change his policy. Then again, Jeffries might just change his manufacturing process to eliminate waste. Perhaps we might just have to accept the fact that Jeffries is a douchebag who makes clothes for douchebags; move on. There is a sale over at Kohl's... better yet, design your own clothes. Just don't forget to give your throwaways to the homeless.

So here you go you clueless, ugly, dirty homeless people. Here are some A&F clothes for you so you can be part of my personal "paybacks are a bitch" mission. This whole thing feels uglier than than what the A&F CEO said. Mr. Karber is basically saying these people are so nasty, I am going to "use" them to prove my point because they are too stupid to know what I am doing and to be willing participants in my little scheme. I don't like this. It feel exploitive. I get the sentiment, but just leave these people alone. - See more at:
So here you go you clueless, ugly, dirty homeless people. Here are some A&F clothes for you so you can be part of my personal "paybacks are a bitch" mission. This whole thing feels uglier than than what the A&F CEO said. Mr. Karber is basically saying these people are so nasty, I am going to "use" them to prove my point because they are too stupid to know what I am doing and to be willing participants in my little scheme. I don't like this. It feel exploitive. I get the sentiment, but just leave these people alone. - See more at:
So here you go you clueless, ugly, dirty homeless people. Here are some A&F clothes for you so you can be part of my personal "paybacks are a bitch" mission. This whole thing feels uglier than than what the A&F CEO said. Mr. Karber is basically saying these people are so nasty, I am going to "use" them to prove my point because they are too stupid to know what I am doing and to be willing participants in my little scheme. I don't like this. It feel exploitive. I get the sentiment, but just leave these people alone. - See more at:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

T-Shirts: 100 Years of Awesomeness!


2013 is the 100th Year Anniversary of the T-Shirt. 

An article in explains, "In 1913, the T-shirt as we know it first appeared as standard-issue gear within the U.S. Navy. Since then, the iconic garment has become an essential part of the American wardrobe and identity."

And become a part of our national identity it has. The t-shirt, like a billboard you wear, can be an advertisement for what you think. In an age where everywhere we go, there is an ad telling us what to believe about this or that, the t-shirt is a way of expressing our personal view. It allows a way of communicating without opening your mouth. A t-shirt can make people see you as funny, and approachable or, it can communicate, "stay the hell away from me". The majority of us own all kinds of t-shirts, and truthfully, most of the time, we just want to be comfortable and look cool, like the above pictured John Lennon.

The Power of a T-Shirt Design

In this history of t-shirts, some designs have reached an iconic status. They can be like universal symbols of an ideology, or relate a common experience. These t-shirts have the power to bring people together. Check out this tribute to the t-shirt in Parade Magazine's, "Top 10 Most Iconic Designs".

What is most interesting is that because of it's comfort, low cost to manufacture, and ability to be printed on, the t-shirt, regardless of what image or saying is actually on it, is itself an icon. This is because we are a generation that put off the stuffiness of suits, vests, and petticoats, and accepted the idea that a simple garment is good enough. At one time, there were truly rich clothes and poor clothes. Today, this is not altogether gone, but the t-shirt is a type of equalizer. Rock stars, jocks, boaters, moms, bums, businessmen, babies and people from almost every other category of society wear t-shirts. It is the American uniform.

                             "The t-shirt is a type of equalizer... it is the American uniform."

 Everybody's Doing it

With such wide acceptance, people have tried a myriad of ways to personalize their shirts. From tie-dye, to that puffy paint stuff, to markers, to cutting holes; folks made t-shirts their own. But it was never quite the same as that printed image you bought at the concert, or the mall. The digital age is now revolutionizing the way people individualize their clothes.

Through the process of digital Direct-to-Garment printing, people are now making their own mark on the world. And it looks like we prefer it this way. According to a survey conducted by CustomInk, found in the same article mentioned earlier, "76 percent of Americans report they would have a stronger emotional connection with a shirt that they or someone they knew custom-designed, versus a shirt that was mass-produced." While there will always be a place for those mass produced shirts, this generation is transitioning into custom everything: custom song lists, custom cell phones, custom rims, custom paint jobs, custom TV, custom walls (social media), custom YouTube channels, and on and on. As the Byrds famously quoted from the book of Ecclesiastes "To everything, turn, turn, turn. There is a season." With 100 years of t-shirt awesomeness, it now continues with the season of digital Direct-to-Garment freedom. Those who have used it, love it. But for those who just won't try it, I leave you with the famous words of Marty McFly in "Back to the Future", "I guess you guys aren't ready for that yet..........but your kids are gonna love it."


Monday, May 13, 2013

DTG, That's What I Meme

Do you frequently find yourself in the midst of a conversation where you bring up DTG, and your friends look at you like you are from Mars? That is because they are not yet aware of the wonders of Direct-to-Garment technology. What you should do in these situations:

1. Make fun of them.
2. Facebook bomb them with memes, like these:

Friday, May 10, 2013

Teach the Web to be DTG Aware!

Hello Interwebs,

What a great topic trending today on Google+!


Teaching is what the DTG Awareness blog is all about people! I'm here to teach the web what's up when it comes to getting the coolest shirts! Print your own- Go out tonight in a shirt that you came up with. What's your style? What's your favorite quote? Wear a picture of your mom for Mother's Day! It's all up to you.

Another great idea: Are you a graphic artist? Become a designer, and sell your own clothing line! The possibilities are endless with DTG!

Printed on the BelQuette Mod1 Direct-to-Garment Printer

So call up your local print shop, and ask them if they do DTG!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Mother's Day Poem

This poem, by Joanna Fuchs, is from
Super Mom

Mom, you're a wonderful mother,
So gentle, yet so strong.
The many ways you show you care
Always make me feel I belong.
You're patient when I'm foolish;
You give guidance when I ask;
It seems you can do most anything;
You're the master of every task.
You're a dependable source of comfort;
You're my cushion when I fall.
You help in times of trouble;
You support me whenever I call.
I love you more than you know;
You have my total respect.
If I had my choice of mothers,
You'd be the one I'd select!
By Joanna Fuchs
Want to give your mom something that she can show off of on Mother's Day? Write her a poem, and put it on a new shirt. DTG will make you the best kid in the family!


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Direct-to-Garment Extravaganza

I had an interesting conversation with someone today about all of the things that a Direct-to-Garment printer can print on. DTG is for more than T-Shirts. Don't get me wrong, t-shirts give you the most surface to play with, and to say with. When your whole upper body is wearing the canvas, you can get a lot of art seen. But sometimes, you may want to change it up.

Ever seen 30 Rock?

Trucker cap enthusiasm unchecked. Say what you want, on the hat you want... everyday if you want. Yep, you can do it with DTG.

Say it on a sweatband.

If your team is looking for something to make you stand out, or if you just want to keep the sweat out of your eyes in style, you can get your image or logo printed on sweatbands with DTG.

Other things you can print on:
Canvas bags
Cotton koozies (no rubber lining)
Pre-stretched canvas for pictures

There are so many possibilities! Are you starting to become aware yet?

Local DTG Printers

You may be wondering where to find some great Direct-to-Garment printed shirts. Today, I am going to show you just how easy it is to find a local company that, for about $20, can make the shirt that you always wanted.

A great place to look is I put "direct to garment printing" in the search bar on their site, and near "Columbus Ohio" as the location. This is what was returned:

There were a total of 17 results. It is not guaranteed that every one of those companies will actually do Direct-to-Garment printing. Some of them might use "direct to garment" as a keyword search because they offer other printing services. However, it is very likely that within these first 6 results, at least one of the companies will offer Direct-to-Garment printing. It is really that easy to strike t-shirt gold. Go ahead and try it. Once you make your own t-shirt, you'll be wondering how you ever survived without DTG. You're welcome.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Trade Shows, Buyer Confusion, and Print Heads

OK, so this post is going to be focused on the people who are using DTG printers, instead of those
who might be buying the awesome products that Direct-to-Garment machines bring. So, if you are not interested in the inner workings of the DTG machine, you can check out here.

One thing buyers have to be aware of when purchasing a DTG printer is the availability of parts. A very important, and often misunderstood aspect of the printer is the print head. First of all, there are only a few companies in the world that actually manufacture print heads. Every DTG manufacturer utilizes a print head that was designed by one of those companies, and despite the rhetoric, no DTG manufacturer currently has the ability to make their own print head. On the other hand, certain DTG companies have purchased exclusive rights to utilize a particular print head, and are very guarded about releasing any specific information as to the nature of this business transaction. This causes rumors to float around about how you should not use Company A because their print head will not be available because the print head manufacturer is going to stop making them. Or they may say Company B will be there to support your needs because they make their own print head, which as I have already stated, is not accurate.

Many prospective buyers attend trade shows such as SGIA, ISS, and NBM, where one can usually see a vast assortment of Direct-to-Garment printers, and get an opportunity to talk with representatives from the companies that either manufacture or distribute these machines. While buyers attend these trade shows for the purpose of becoming more knowledgeable about the products that are available, it is not uncommon for them to leave feeling somewhat confused by the seemingly contradictory information they receive. The reality is that all DTG printers are based on a similar technology model. Regardless of the claims against "modified printers" or claims that printers built for DTG from the ground up are somehow better, the truth is, all of these printers are the descendants of the desktop inkjet. And this is why many of the DTG printers that are available today are modified from other printers. For example, currently, Epson sells the r2000 printer and it utilizes Epson's DX5 print head. This is the same print head that several DTG manufacturers also use. A fear tactic that is sometimes used to sell against printers that utilize print heads that originate with other printer models is that when the original manufacturer stops making the printer, the print heads will no longer be available. However, this does not mean that the DTG manufacturer has no access to the print head. Some DTG manufacturers keep a large stock of print heads on hand and can service their customers for years to come. This means that if you purchase a DTG printer today that utilizes the DX5 print head, your manufacturer should be able to supply brand new print heads should the need arise. Print head cost is a weak point for some manufacturers, which is part of the reason they use such fear tactics when selling against other companies. One DTG printer can have as many as 6 or more print heads, with a cost of $1,100 each, while a printer that utilizes the DX5 generally only needs one print head at a cost of $700-$900.

The bottom line is, whichever printer you choose, be sure to understand the full cost to benefit ratio of any features or parts mentioned. How much are you paying to get the printer that uses "original" or "exclusive" print heads. How much are you paying for the ink? Is the printer really that much faster? Did you time it? The right printer could mean the difference between profitability in 6 months or 2 years.