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10 Tips for Launching a Preprint Garment Line

(May 2009) posted on Wed May 20, 2009

Developing and producing a preprint line of garments takes time and effort, but as Trimingham explains, a foundation made of solid plans and the right mindset can build up to success.

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By Thomas Trimingham

A wise art teacher once told me, “Good ideas are everywhere, like fossils waiting to be found. But the truly rare thing—the thing that makes them precious—is the patience to carefully dig them out.” This mentality is perfect when developing a preprint line of T-shirts.

Like many pursuits, developing a successful preprint garment line largely depends on the way in which we engage the process. One of the critical steps in the very beginning is to define the specific goals you wish to achieve with the preprint line. Is it enough to move shirts into some stores and receive some positive feedback? Must you sell a certain number of shirts or meet a particular ROI? Defining success and what you want to happen will help you drive the effort in the right direction right off of the starting line. The more specific your goals are from the beginning, the better your chances of reaching them.

The sheer volume of graphic ideas thrown into the T-shirt market creates a lot of competition for the retail customer’s attention, so making an initial impression is a big challenge. Some buyers for large retail outlets see dozens of new lines a week presented by a wide variety of companies. The majority of the new T-shirt lines that printers bring to buyers fail for many reasons, but perhaps the most important one to keep in mind is that the people behind these designs likely didn’t have the patience and dedication to make their preprint ideas successful over time.

The other huge ingredient and perhaps the biggest indicator of likely success is the developer’s attitude, including honesty about the viability of the products, flexibility, and adaptability. Developers tend to design a line of shirts from the inside out, or as one experienced screen printer told me, “Designing preprints is often done in a bubble. The designer or developer of the shirt line only asks feedback from friends, employees, and family—all of whom are unlikely to give brutally honest opinions.”

With these concerns and issues in mind, consider the following ten tips to raise your odds of success when creating a preprint line of garments. Note that these ideas will change considerably depending on the market niche you target, but they should give you a basic foundation for bringing a line to market and making some sales.


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