Print on Demand T-Shirts: Top Design Tips from the Experts

Founded by entrepreneur Robert Keane in 1995, Bonne Impression was one of the first companies to offer affordable, easily-personalised products (primarily business cards, product brochures and office stationery) to consumers. Just four years later, Bonne Impression changed its business model to one that was based online and the new name chosen for the company is one that is certain to be familiar to you: Vistaprint.

Today, Vistaprint boasts an impressive market-share of over 36.5% in the global market for customised products and print fulfillment services. The company has vastly extended its portfolio; in addition to continuing to supply businesses with crucial items like those mentioned above, Vistaprint now offers a host of other customisable products from greetings cards, calendars and event invitations to clothing, bags, keyrings, kitchen equipment and more. 

As is plainly evident, Vistaprint knows what it is talking about when it comes to the market for print-on-demand merchandise. In this edition of the Brickweb blog, we're going to be examining the results of an in-depth study by Vistaprint which focused on custom-printed clothing in general and on custom-printed t-shirts in particular. The study sought the opinions of more than 2,000 UK adults, all of whom regularly use the internet to discover new products and make purchases. 

Let's start with some of the study's key findings...

  • Within the market for personalised clothing, the most popular item by far is the t-shirt, with 66% of respondents having purchased a custom-printed tee. Personalised hoodies/­sweatshirts came next in the popularity stakes with 46% of respondents owning one or more, closely followed by polo shirts at 44%.
  • The Vistaprint survey also looked at the popularity of some related accessories. 37% of respondents had purchased a customised cap and 30% owned a tote bag that they had personalised using a print-on-demand supplier.
  • The majority of survey respondents (32%) had purchased customised products with the simple purpose of representing their personality, including likes, dislikes and beliefs. Many others had chosen to make a purchase for a special occasion such as a holiday (22%), a birthday party (20%) or a music festival (19%). 
  • Nearly four out of ten respondents (39%) felt that the clothing someone chooses to wear says a lot about their personality. 
  • 20% of those surveyed said that customised apparel was an enjoyable way in which to express themselves. 
  • 28% said that they preferred to support small businesses when it comes to purchasing personalised merch of any type. 
  • Well over a third of those surveyed (35%) said that they were willing to pay more for an article of customised clothing because of its inherently-unique appeal.
  • When it comes to customised apparel worn by employees, which is emblazoned with company branding, a full 20% of respondents said that such items would make them more likely to remember that company. Of the 66% of respondents who were currently employed by a company in which some type of uniform would be suitable, more than 50% said that such customised apparel would make their process of getting ready for work both quicker and easier. 38% of this group also said that wearing a personalised uniform would make them feel proud to represent their employer. 

Using other statistics generated by the survey, renowned Fashion Consultant Clare Alexander has created a definitive list of tips to help print-on-demand companies succeed when offering customised t-shirts to customers. Here is her list...

  1. Remember the old adage that suggests less is often more? That's definitely true in this situation. Avoid super-complicated designs with an overabundance of graphics, text and other details. Clean lines, a carefully-considered colour palette and bold, clear fonts are much more effective. 
  2. Be very careful when sourcing your designs, never using material that is copyrighted. As well as the potential legal implications, plagiarising material in this way will put your customers off: remember that they are choosing to customise clothing because they want something unique. This desire for a one-of-a-kind product also means that you shouldn't rely on the use of clipart or stock images. 
  3. Swear words and other examples of language or images that are in some way offensive should definitely be avoided: more than 50% of respondents to the Vistaprint survey said that they would not buy clothing with designs featuring such offensive elements. Remember what your parents and/or teachers told you: "It's not big and it's not clever!"
  4. When creating your designs, always take time to consider the properties of the garment that you intend it to be printed on. The shape, fit and quality of the garment you decide on will all have an effect on the design's final appearance. 
  5. Keep a close eye on what's trending and consider incorporating these trends into your designs. Design elements currently making waves among Vistaprint's 2,000+ survey respondents when it comes to the market for customised t-shirts include logos on both the front (42%) and reverse (34%) of the garment, references to environmental and social issues (37%) and the emblems of pop and rock bands (also 37%). 

Clare concluded her list by commenting that "there has never been a better time to start your own customised t-shirt brand and accessibility to resources has never been more easy. All you need is a laptop and an idea to get started."

If you have these two things and a drive to succeed, Brickweb is your perfect partner. The Brick Factory is our unique, ultra-powerful business automation tool aimed squarely at businesses who are already working in or have a desire to become part of the rapidly-expanding print-on-demand market. 

Discover all of the details about this revolutionary tool on our website. We also invite you to browse the portfolio of our current Brick Factory clients; take some time to visit some of these websites and be inspired. When you're ready to take the next step, simply give our team a call or fill in the business enquiry form and we'll arrange a cost- and obligation-free demonstration of the game-changing system that is The Brick Factory. 

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