Quality Over Quantity? Choosing The Right Band Merch For You

September 1, 2009 | Merch Expert

At mycustombandmerch.com, we often get into debates with clients on what brand of shirts to use.  If you look at most major bands or independent clothing companies, you find them using a very thin t-shirt that is lightweight, and can breathe when you wear it.  They are often very form fitting by nature and cling to your body.  Some of the most noted companies that produce these shirts are American Apparel, Tultex, and Alternative Apparel to name a few.  All are great companies and produce an excellent product.

However, the cost of using these shirts for your custom band merch can sometimes be astronomical in price due to the cost of the blanks that the printing company (us) has to aquire.  So when should you use this type of shirt?

For most bands or clothing companies just starting out, this can be a question they ask when getting their merch printed.  The number one reason why a band or clothing company would choose an American Apparel or Alternative shirt is simply asthetics.  The shirt has a better look, feel and fit than a traditional 50/50 or 100% cotton t-shirt.  Bottom line though, a shirt is still a shirt.  There is this trend within the music scene that one will not buy a shirt from a band or clothing company unless it is printed on American Apparel. The thing to determine is whether your fan base falls into this category.  While at shows you play or shows you go to of similar artists, look around and see what types of shirts the fans are wearing.  This will usually give you a good indication of which way you need to go.

If you are indeed just starting out and it is your first run of shirts, stick with a simple 100% cotton or 50/50 shirt from a brand like Hanes, Gildan, Fruit of the Loom, or Anvil.  Here’s why.

The first issue is obviously cost.  When printing on American Apparel or a comparable brand, the cost per shirt nears almost double compared to a regular basic shirt.  Your first run of shirts, should be to test the waters to see how well you are received with your new band merch and how well it will sell.  When printing on a basic shirt, the number of shirts to break even is much lower than if you were to print on a highend fashion fit shirt.

The second issue you must consider is the pricing of the shirt.  If you choose to go with a basic shirt, you can easily price your new merch at $10/shirt and easily make a profit.  However, if you try to do that with a high end shirt, your profit margin will be extremely small because of your production costs.  If this is the case, you may need to raise the price of the shirt.  You then may run into the complications of not selling many shirts based on the higher price tag.

The third issue that one must consider is your band’s budget.  If you only have a budget of $500, you will not be able to get the same amount of shirts for each type of shirts.  It is often better when starting out, to have more shirts on hand, not only to sell more and make a better profit, but also to get your name out.  Would you rather sell out of 25 shirts on American Apparel or 50 shirts of Hanes.  Probably the latter.  Not only are more shirts of your band circulated, you will also be making a better profit.

The  main things to think about when starting to choose brands of shirts is how well it will work within your budget, genre, deomographic, and how well established your band or company is.  If you are just starting out, try not to print the most expensive shirt that only your family and best friends will by leaving you stuck with a box full of shirts that you cannot unload and a whole in your bands budget.

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