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The Single Color of Money

(April 2008) posted on Thu Apr 10, 2008

The profit potential in single-color garment designs is a lot greater than you may realize. This month, Trimingham describes how to add visual impact, extra value, and a higher price tag to your one-color work.

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By Thomas Trimingham

Private label This costs 25-75 cents per shirt, depending on volume and the necessary service steps. You can purchase garments without tags and heat-transfer a label onto the shirt. Check with your local garment mill to see what is available. Unique locations for labels can be appealing as a valued look, such as on a sleeve hem, a wraparound on the neck or sleeve fabric on the inside, side-seam tags, and even metal, flock, or leather heat-applied or sewn-in brand identifiers. Clients who are willing to pay a premium need to see that the shirt looks different from a typical garment that anyone can buy. This step directly supports the feeling of exclusiveness.

Custom dyes and color effects The highest priced shirts on my list were ones that had custom colors and wash effects, including grinding and/or distressing to the shirts’ seams. Many of these effects are easy and cost-effective to recreate, especially in a shop that’s equipped with an inexpensive washer and dryer. You won’t find a must-do list here. Some shirts featured several special effects, and others had very little. The idea is to differentiate the shirt from others on the market and increase the softness and vintage look.

The softer, the better Research shows that special effects that increase the perceived softness of a garment increase its value. Can we wash or process a low-cost garment to magnify its softness? Fabric softeners and washing techniques can do the trick and add a special effect at the same time. Enzyme wash is a popular one. Only use unscented products.

The fit that your market demands Some shirts just don’t fit well. More expensive shirts tend to consist of spandex (even if they don’t say it on the tags) in order to conform to the wearer’s body and create the feel of a better fit. Fashion-forward clients are very interested in how a garment fits. Make sure you know its dimensions. What’s the in style right now? Look into long shirts with conforming shapes, thinner necks, and shoulder hems. Some manufacturers are surprisingly open to customizing garments—even in smaller quantities.


High-impact artwork


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