Custom screen printed t-shirt

Why branding is the most important thing for startup clothing companies

One of the most common questions we are asked is ‘what size should my print be?’. Whilst we can give guidance on print size relevant to the chosen garment, customers often wonder if their custom print will be the right size to attract customers. 

A lot of the time, this question is asked because new fashion entrepreneurs spend a lot of time trying to get this element of their brand perfect.

However, from our experience, other elements are far more important than the size that you print or embroider your artwork. Instead, the most successful startup clothing companies we work with focus most of their attention on their brand and its ethos. 

Does the ethos of the brand matter?

With so many different clothing brands available on the market today, consumers will not simply purchase products because they have the most visible print or even the most competitive prices. Today’s clothing brands must appeal to their audience through their values and culture.

Whilst a brand can have many characteristics, the ethos refers to the core identity of a company. For example, some brands focus on inclusivity whilst others focus on sustainability.

The buying power that customers hold determines which brands will prosper which will fail. Coupled with increased awareness around ethics, sustainability and fair treatment of workers, consumers are choosing to spend their money on brands that align with their own personal values.

In response to this, many brands are now aligning their values to those of their customers. For example, in 2018 Gucci went fur-free, stating that “it isn’t modern”, understanding that very few of their customers were still interested in purchasing real fur as they became aware of the poor treatment of animals in the fashion industry. 

In contrast, Louis Vuitton still uses real animal fur and exotic animal skins in the creation of their products and the response to this has been far from positive. In October 2021 an animal rights activist stormed the runway of their 2022 collection protesting their overconsumption of animal products.

It is incidents like these that show that the ethics of a brand hold more power than any amount of recognisable designer prints or logos. It is doubtful that any protesters at the Louis Vuitton fashion show would put aside their beliefs to purchase the latest monogrammed bag to improve their ‘street-cred’. 

Furthermore, a recent survey by Morgan Stanley research shows that 62% of people rank ‘good ethics’ as a key criterion when purchasing clothing.

Does design size matter?

To understand a brand’s appeal, we only have to look at the resale culture of high-end brands. Rati Sahi Levesque, chief merchant of luxury re-commerce site ‘The Real Real’ noted that “the demand for logo products is more than 20% higher than similar, non-logo products from the same brand”. It is understandable that if you are paying thousands of pounds for designer goods that you would want some sort of recognisable print on the item. 

But does the size of the print matter?

Whilst prints play a key part in the visual impact of a brand, a bigger print doesn’t necessarily mean better. 

Trends around print size have fluctuated over the years, up until recently showing off branded garments was seen as rather gauche. In the early 20th Century, which saw the emergence of popular brands such as Chanel and Balenciaga, branding was contained to the inside of products such as in the lining of coats or bags and was originally introduced to prevent the illegal copying of designs. 

In the 1980s, dubbed the ‘designer decade’, many new brands were introduced. Displaying the designer prints proudly on the outside of clothing became part of street culture as people began to use logos as a sign of wealth and identity. 

In the 1990’s Gucci, Dior and Louis Vuitton featured collections focused almost entirely around large, repeat patterns and this began a trend known as ‘logomania’.

The size of the prints on garments doesn’t seem to matter in this ‘logomania’ trend that continues today. Younger consumers, heavily influenced by celebrities and influencers on social media have a desire to buy any designer items that they can afford, whether that be designer T-shirts with a small logo or designer bags heavily emblazoned with recognisable prints. 

Consumers buy into the brand rather than the design of the products.

What’s more, minor discrepancies about placement or size between products are unnoticeable to consumers and we’re yet to find any study that shows that this is even a concern among fashion shoppers.

Your customers buy into your brand not your designs

Regardless of whether a brand aligns with consumers’ ethics, the branding and marketing are equally as important in appealing to customers. 

The viral streetwear brand Stüssy recently generated earnings of $50 million by creating an air of exclusivity. They kept supply low and demand high as celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Kendall Jenner were seen wearing the brand. As a result, ordinary consumers are keen to get their hands on any products from the brand, whether the print on the items is large or small, consumers don’t mind as long as they have a piece of the cult clothing.

This sentiment can be applied to all brands. If you are starting a custom T-shirt brand, it is important to remember that consumers will buy into your brand for the ethos, ethics and marketing of the products. 

Once demand is generated for your products, consumers will not focus on whether your print is 300mm or 100mm wide, they will buy into your brand as a whole. We often tend to think that customers are more selective than they really are. 

Customers are rarely put-off purchasing T-shirts because they consider the print size too small or too large; they are more likely to reconsider purchasing due to product pricing or misaligned values. 

For this reason, we always suggest focusing on your brand’s marketing and values rather than worrying too much over the exact print size on your custom T-shirts.

It would be wrong to say that print size doesn’t matter entirely as it certainly does in terms of practicality and durability, however, in terms of attracting customers to the brand, the brand’s ethos and the current trends have far more of an impact on sales than print size.

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