Your $4 t-shirt is costing you millions I’m as cheap as the next entrepreneur, but I’m here to make the case for spending twice as much on your t-shirts so that you get 10 times the value from them.

by Joshua Baer

Many of the startup t-shirts I see are completely worthless — no one is going to wear them who doesn’t get paid to.

They are ugly and uncomfortable. When looking through my closet, I’ll never pick that shirt over another one that is more comfortable or has a meaningful design that I connect with emotionally.

An entrepreneur’s most common initial reaction to the t-shirt and swag question is to spend as little as possible. After all, it’s hard to go wrong with frugality.

But t-shirts come from the marketing budget and should be optimized like any other spend. Done properly, one shirt can deliver tens of thousands of impressions worth thousands of dollars. Done poorly, they will just get thrown in the trash and never worn — worth pretty much zero.

The cheapest shirt you can buy will run $3 or $4 each in volume. A really nice shirt will be $7 or $8. The $3 shirt is mostly worthless and the $7 shirt can be priceless.

Start with the best material you can find

My shirt of choice these days is by Canvas, but other good brands include Pima, Next Level, and of course American Apparel. My favorite for softness is the tri-blend 50% Polyester, 25% Cotton, 25% Rayon.

In general, go with the softest, thinnest t-shirt you can find. Make sure it comes with a tear-off tag.

I’m always on the search for next best t-shirt. If I find something I like, I take a picture of the label or bring a sample to my t-shirt supplier and usually they can find the exact same material or something really close.

It’s worth spending more on a nicer shirt because I’ve found that the t-shirt quality is the most important factor in whether or not people keep it and wear it over and over.

You want this to be the shirt that your girlfriend or boyfriend steals to sleep in because it’s so comfy — think of what a branding win that is right there.

Create a design that people want to wear

You want the shirt to be striking enough to grab people’s attention but not so striking that people feel self-conscious about wearing it. A bright, neon color with an obnoxious logo and slogan might make your VP of Marketing get excited but it won’t be interesting to most other people.

Think about whether someone who didn’t even know what your company did would want to wear this t-shirt?

Here are some tips for a great design:

  1. A simple logo is always good — as long as your logo is good. When in doubt, your first t-shirt should just be your logo centered on the front chest. I never really understood why, but everyone loved the logo shirt for OtherInbox, my last startup. I would be walking through a random hotel in NYC and the bellhop would say, “Nice shirt!” It was easy to get people to wear them.

  2. Your company slogan is probably not as clever to everyone else as it is to you. Writing on your shirt should be funny, relevant, ironic, insightful — it has to be so good that someone who doesn’t work for your company would want to wear it. A great example is this Google for Entrepreneurs t-shirt that says, “Always Work Hard on Something Uncomfortably Exciting.”

  3. Nobody wants to wear a shirt with 10 company logos on it except maybe for a marathon where it feels cool to be sponsored like a race car. Stick with one big logo and maybe two or three supporting ones if needed. Use the sleeves for additional logo locations to keep it from getting too busy.

  4. Put the year somewhere on the design — it can be prominent or hidden. Brett Hurt taught me to always put the year somewhere on the shirt so that you can tell one shirt from another. It will become a source of pride to have one of the originial t-shirts, especially when you make shirts that last forever (see below). I like hiding it in the design like an easter egg.

  5. Pay to have a designer make something special for you. Even if you don’t have this talent on your team, every t-shirt shop has their own in-house designers who just make t-shirts all day long and are really good at it. Write up or sketch up some ideas and send it to them and for a few hundred dollars they will make a custom design for you that blows your mind. I use Outhouse Designs in Austin, Texas.

  6. Don’t choose white shirts. They are hard to pull off well. People seem to like black shirts and colored shirts better. Personally, I think white shirts make me look fat. Jason Cohen points out that dark shirts don’t get as dirty and aren’t see through when they are wet.

  7. Don’t use thick layers of ink. Big patches of thick ink on the shirt make it really uncomfortable to wear. of course, if you use discharge printing (see below) this is a complete non-issue.

    Use discharge printing so that it lasts forever

    This requires a 100% ringspun cotton shirt (I use the one from Canvas). The shirt costs the same but the ink process costs $1 extra per shirt.

    The default printing method lays the ink on top of the shirt. It starts washing off after 5 or 10 times through the washing machine.

    If you use discharge printing, it actually dyes the shirt so that it never washes out. This is the kind of shirt you’ll still be wearing 10 years later.

    How many should I make of each size?

    Every group is different, but here is a spreadsheet that I use to calculate how many shirts of each size I should order. Every time I order I tweak the numbers a little bit based on how many are leftover. You just enter the total number of shirts you want to order in the top cell of column B, and then adjust the other percentages in column B as you see fit. You can download that spreadsheet and modify it for your own use.

    Don’t just order Men’s cut or unisex shirts. Women don’t like those and often won’t wear them. Order some in a Women’s cut and you’ll be sure to impress the ladies in your audience.

    Bonus trick

    Get crew-necks for all of the men’s shirts and v-necks for the women’s shirts. It makes it much easier to tell them apart when they inevitably end up in a big pile. You can also use color to differentiate them.

    Some Examples

 If you look closely you’ll see “SXSW 2014” hidden in the binary code in the middle of the star.

If you look closely you’ll see “SXSW 2014” hidden in the binary code in the middle of the star.

 For this one we wanted to do something fun — it was the first time we had an outside designer help us out. I told the designer to play with robots, gears and binary code and gave him a big list of keywords.

For this one we wanted to do something fun — it was the first time we had an outside designer help us out. I told the designer to play with robots, gears and binary code and gave him a big list of keywords.

 We had an arcade themed party and riffed on my favorite game — Galaga. We were able to make the big list of sponsors look cool by integrating it into the “high score list” on the back of the shirt.

We had an arcade themed party and riffed on my favorite game — Galaga. We were able to make the big list of sponsors look cool by integrating it into the “high score list” on the back of the shirt.

 The original robot shirt was popular, so in the next revision we simplified it a bit and put the cables running into the robot’s head to acknowledge the recent Google Fiber announcement in Austin.

The original robot shirt was popular, so in the next revision we simplified it a bit and put the cables running into the robot’s head to acknowledge the recent Google Fiber announcement in Austin.

 One of our most popular shirts, the “Eye Chart” shirt is an easy one for anyone to wear, even if they have no idea what Capital Factory is.

One of our most popular shirts, the “Eye Chart” shirt is an easy one for anyone to wear, even if they have no idea what Capital Factory is.

Free Embroidery and Laser Etching Setups For Your Custom Apparel Orders.

minimum order of 12pcs.

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Cartier pop-up — in a gold shipping container — coming to Seattle

by Sara Kennedy

The selfie-ready space shows off Cartier's collections influenced by objects such as nails and bolts.

Cartier is bringing its first-ever traveling pop-up experience to Seattle with an interactive display of its luxe jewelry inside a gold shipping container.

The concept — called Precious Garage — was created by New York- based artist Desi Santiago, who is known for installations influenced by the worlds of fashion and nightlife.

The industrial setting showcases the latest pieces from the Juste un Clou and Écrou de Cartier collections, which take influence from industrial materials such as nails and bolts.

Upon entering the gold container, the interior is initially completely dark. Visitors are then guided through the space by rays of light which illuminate the walls, clad with gold and matte-black painted tools, and display cases containing the jewelry collections. Outside the container, visitors can touch and try on the new pieces.

The tour kicked off in New York, visited Nashville and concludes in Seattle.

The exhibit is open to the public Sept. 29 (noon to 5 p.m.) and Sept. 30 (noon to 3 p.m.) at Fremont Mischief, 132 N. Canal Street. Find more information at cartier.preciousgarage.com/seattle.

U.S. Government Sues Sports Apparel Retailer Fanatics for Racial Discrimination

by Hannah Abrams

 Sports apparel company Fanatics is at the center of a major racial discrimination lawsuit. | Credit:  Getty Images  by Robin Marchant

Sports apparel company Fanatics is at the center of a major racial discrimination lawsuit. | Credit: Getty Images by Robin Marchant

Sports apparel company Fanatics, who recently inked a huge licensing deal with the NFL, is in major hot water this week. According to Bloomberg, the U.S. government is suing the company for racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the suit yesterday in Florida district court. The suit alleges that the company repeatedly subjected a former employee, a black man, to discrimination while he was employed at the company's Jacksonville headquarters.

Specifically, the employee said a team leader used the n-word, while other colleagues and superiors would make comments like "I'm not racist but a lot of you [black] guys can't read" and "Africans in Europe know their place, but not in the United States," reported Bloomberg.

In addition, other Fanatics employees stated the workplace is racially divided, and black and white employees are treated differently. A former operations administrator said minorities at the company are "treated like uneducated slave labor," according to the lawsuit.

But the Michael Rubin-owned company isn't going down without a fight.

“Fanatics is committed to treating all employees fairly and takes complaints like this very seriously,” the company said in a statement. “We deny any wrongdoing and look forward to vigorously defending these claims in court.”

If Fanatics can't prove its innocence, it spells huge trouble for the company. Its NFL and MLB partnerships certainly hang in the balance, as well as its college partnerships. We will keep you updated as the lawsuit plays out in court.

Lacoste adopts temporary logo to help endangered species

by David Blank

 Lacoste's limited-edition endangered species polo shirts.

Lacoste's limited-edition endangered species polo shirts.

Lacoste temporarily replaced its polo shirts' crocodile logo with the images of 10 endangered species to help counter the threat of extinction.

The shirts, which are part of a limited run supporting the "Save Our Species" campaign that launched during Paris Fashion Week on March 1, have sold out.

Replacing the crocodile above the left breast of the shirt are the Gulf of California porpoise, the Burmese roofed turtle, Sumatran tiger, the Anegada ground iguana and the northern sportive lemur, among others.

The French clothing company calibrated the number of shirts produced for each series to the population of the remaining animals in the wild. Of the 1,775 shirts available, the Gulf of California porpoise had the smallest print run, with just 30 shirts available.

    The Anegada iguana, by contrast, was the most available, with 450 editions. Proceeds went to International Union for Conservation of Nature, an international advocacy organization working to protect nature that sponsored the campaign.

    "Together these rare reptiles, birds and mammals champion the plight of all known threatened species," IUCN said in a statement.

    The US Fish & Wildlife Service has placed 1,459 animals on its threatened and endangered list.

    Wildlife expert Jeff Corwin lauded Lacoste's efforts and said he hoped it would inspire other companies to take on similar projects.

    "It's a great start and I'm hoping it's just the beginning and inspires other companies to follow suit," Corwin told CNN. "Maybe Jaguar will do something for jaguars. Ram trucks maybe will start protecting big horn sheep."

    "Generating awareness is equally important to fundraising because in order to solve the problem you need to understand the challenges," he added.

    Lacoste's crocodile logo was introduced in 1936, and the company has never before sold shirts featuring other animals.

    Hops & Hair Metal: Brewery Partners With Legendary Rock Band

    by Joan Chaykin

    A popular ’80s band who titled their second album High and Dry is going for something decidedly different with its latest promo.

    Def Leppard, the U.K.-based, heavy-metal band whose hits include Love Bites and Pour Some Sugar on Me, have rocked onto a new stage by teaming up with Seattle-based Elysian Brewing to create a custom ale, Def Leppard Pale.

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    According to Elysian, the beer was “brewed to fuse the infamous malt bodies of British ales with the mysteria of Pacific Northwest hops.” The beer is being sold on the band’s co-headlining tour with Journey this summer.

    The 16-ounce can design of Def Leppard Pale is a tribute to the band’s best-selling platinum album Hysteria that sold over 25 million copies worldwide, and is co-branded with both the band’s and brewer’s names.

    The band and the brewery teamed up in a YouTube promo video to detail how beer and rock go “hand-in-hand.”

    In a Drinks Business article, Elysian’s co-founder Joe Bisacca stated: “We had the idea that the beer should celebrate something of the band and something of us. The best of British beer is the malt body and that beautiful malt balance. And the best thing about American beer is the citrus, piney hops. So we’ve taken those two aspects, put them together and come up with a beer you can actually drink a few of – 6% abv you can drink all night long.”

     

    Nike celebrates two World Cup finalists

    by THOMSON REUTERS

    MOSCOW, July 12 (Reuters) - The World Cup final on Sunday will not only be an all-European affair but an all-Nike match. For the first time in its history, the American sportswear manufacturer will be providing the kit for the two finalists, France and Croatia.

    The result is a significant victory for Nike, as rival Adidas is a long-standing and prominent partner of FIFA and the World Cup.

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    "We've had three of the four teams make the semi-finals and then two of our teams made the finals, which is a first time for Nike," Elliot Hill, Nike president of consumer and marketplace, told Reuters.

     Team France

    Team France

     Super Eagles 2018 FIFA World Cup Team Croatia

    Super Eagles 2018 FIFA World Cup Team Croatia

    "We've been in the game of football for over 20 years, and it's the first time that we've had an all-Nike final with both teams wearing Nike."

    Adidas sponsored 12 of the 32 teams at the World Cup finalists compared to Nike's 10 but saw one of its most prominent clients Germany knocked out in the group stage while eight of its teams fell in the round of 16.

    "In addition to the kits, we've had great success with our players," said Hill.

    "We have over 65 percent of the athletes wearing Nike football boots. That's more than all the other brands combined. So it's been a really successful World Cup for us, on and off the pitch."

    Of the other manufacturers, Puma supplied kits for four teams, New Balance for two and Errea, Hummel, Uhlsport and Umbro one apiece -- the latter being the distinctive Peru shirt with the red diagonal stripe. (Reporting by Catherine Koppel; Editing by Christian Radnedge)