Everyone loves free t-shirts, right? Wrong. People love high quality t-shirts in their size.
I’m constantly disappointed at the number of companies giving away poor quality, ugly shirts at booths, conferences, and events. I’d rather make 10 awesome shirts that will actually get worn than 1,000 shirts that will end up at the bottom of the closet. Here are some tips to make that happen.
1. Buy high-quality shirts
Companies buy shirts that feel like particle board because they’re cheap. Here’s a tip: if you wouldn’t wear the shirt, no one else will either. The best all around t-shirt I’ve found is the American Apparel 2001. It’s soft, fitted, and comes in 47 colors. I’m sure there are other quality shirts but I just can’t risk it. Let us know if you’ve had good results with others.
2. Buy small sizes. There are fewer XXL people then you think
Don’t be afraid of hurting the feelings of bigger people. Smaller people won’t just “use it like a nightgown.” As an extra large man, I won’t be offended if you only have smalls and mediums (after all, that’s how it is at retail stores). For every 25 shirts we buy we typically get: 8-smalls, 12-mediums, 4-larges, and 1-XL.
3. Show some attitude, not company boilerplate
This is one of the few outlets where you can show some personality and soul. We could have the text “Instant messaging and group chat for your company.” but who would want to wear that? I wouldn’t.
4. Buy from a local shop
You can check out the quality of their work before ordering. There are no shipping costs (t-shirts are surprisingly heavy). If there’s a problem with the order you can drive down the street instead of dealing with people over the phone and shipping the shirts back. It’s also cool doing business with your neighbors. Here on the San Francisco/San Jose peninsula we use Century Graphics in Sunnyvale, CA. We’ve had great service, discounted prices, and perfect shirts every time.
5. Have a few different designs (or use the same design on different colored shirts)
People love variety. If you work for the company, there’s the added benefit that people won’t think you wear the same shirt everyday.
6. Make sure the shop saves the screens. It’ll be cheaper to re-order in the future
Turning your designs into screens is the most costly and tedious part of the process for the shop. But once it’s done, they won’t have to do it again. It’ll save you a couple bucks PER SHIRT the next time you order.
7. Double check the spelling and capitalization
I made a capitalization error on our pirate t-shirt (the c in HipChat wasn’t capitalized, you can see it in the photo above). We fixed it in the latest order but we couldn’t get the price break because they had to re-make the screens.
What are some of the worst shirts you’ve gotten from companies?