Ordering swag can be flat out fun at times and it’s easy to get carried away, but not everyone has a huge budget to work with. At some point, almost everyone will make use of custom designed apparel for companies, events, and the like.We’re here to help you learn in what areas you should reel it in so you can still achieve the look you’re envisioning at a price that meets your budget!
Prices can depend on many factors: quantity, garment choice, number of locations, artwork, and printing method. Let’s jump into a thorough look at what you should be prepared for when ordering.
First thing’s first: the more you buy, the more you save. Make sure you’re qualifying for bulk pricing to start the saving process. Check with your rep to see what price bracket you sit in. If you’re only a few units short of hitting a more cost-effective price, then consider adding a few units. It may end up saving you more in the long run and some extra back up units can be a good thing to have!
Sizing can play a large part in pricing. If you have any units over size XL, keep in mind that there can be an additional manufacturer’s surcharge for the extra fabric used to make those pieces. Try to cut down on larger sizes to just what is necessary. Knowing your sizes ahead of time will really help with this. It’s about the only time that having a few extra units won’t save you anything.
A cardinal rule of inexpensive apparel printing is to use white or light garments. They cost less than printing onto coloured garments because a base pre-treatment layer is not required before laying down ink. Not only that, but the cost of light garments themselves can be significantly less expensive than coloured garments.
Garments with a high % of cotton will also be the most inexpensive. Manufacturing them costs less and they are perfect for every printing method (unlike blends or polyesters garments). All brands will carry higher cotton options, but make sure you pay attention to them. Premium brands offer basic 100% cotton garments but may overcharge because of the brand attached to them. If a premium texture is what you want to explore with some premium brands, just make sure you look at several brands to expand your pricing options.
It’s pretty safe to say that you’ll get a better price if you let your printer supply your garments. The only exception would be unless you can get your hands on the apparel for cheaper than your printer. With that said, if you would prefer to supply your own apparel from somewhere that your printer cannot purchase from or on garments you make yourself, then there’s typically not a problem with this. Allow your printer to inspect your garment so that they can determine which printing method(s) would be appropriate for your order.
LOCATION / NUMBER OF DESIGNS PER GARMENT
Pretty simple: more locations = higher costs. Try combining your artworks if you want 2+ print locations to save on costs. Talk to your rep about having your artwork changed or about other printing options. Sometimes heat applications can be effective for a small print addition. Some other add-ons like re-labelling count as a second location and will bump up your price as well.
When it comes to your artwork you can either:
- Choose the most cost-effective and appropriate method for your artwork
- Recreate your artwork to better suit the most cost-effective option offered by your printer
See below for some tips on what methods are best for what kinds of designs. This choice is up to you. If you have a hard-set design for your artwork, then inquire about all appropriate print options. If you are open to some changes in order to cut costs, consider inquiring about simplifying your design so that you have more options for printing methods. Here at Rogue Star, we have designers that can help you achieve your artwork visions with digital adjustments so that you can stay within your budget!
The decoration methods used to apply your design will also factor into the cost. Typically, screen printing is the most cost-effective print if your artwork colours allow for it. Fewer colours, shading, etc. = less cost. This is especially applicable if you are printing on coloured garments that require a base layer of white to make colours vibrant. Try to use the same consistent artwork, placement, and colours across different styles or colours of garments. Ink and screen change fees can add up if you’re adjusting them per size or per colour of garment. Lastly, make use of negative space with screen printing. Instead of using another colour in your artwork, consider having it incorporated by making the garment that colour (acting as a background) and having it peek through “empty” areas.
Direct to Garment (DTG) printing is typically suggested for designs that have many colours, tiny details, or real life style imagery. Sometimes DTG is suggested for orders that would typically be screen printed, but don’t meet the minimum units suggested for cost-effectiveness. With DTG, keep in mind that colours do not affect the cost – artwork size does. Be mindful of your garment colours with DTG. The cost for print on coloured/darker garments will be likely be higher per unit as the garment will need a pre-treatment layer to be applied before printing to ensure a quality print.
Heat applications are typically used by request or out of necessity when screen printing or DTG are out of the question. Depending on your printer, they can be priced per colour and/or by size and may include application fees as well. Heat applications are suitable for almost any fabric and can actually be extremely durable and appropriate.
Embroidery is a whole other beast on its own. Embroidery is priced by stitch count. Stitch count is determined by the amount of detail and size of the artwork. The more stitches, the higher the cost. Price typically doesn’t change when various colours of thread are used, but it’s always safe to check. With embroidery it’s also best to be prepared for artwork simplification changes if you’re looking to reduce costs but are hard set on this style of decoration.
Print method can play a vital role in your cost. Quantity comes into play with all methods, but especially with screen printing and embroidery as they both incur set-up fees. Other methods may not have set up fees but be aware that that may not always mean a more effective cost per unit despite larger quantities.
Lastly, make sure that you specify your deadline! Based on how quickly you need your order, some options may incur an extra charge for rush shipping, printing, etc. Try to plan ahead for your order to avoid fees like this if possible.
We’ve given you a lot to chew on, so don’t worry if you have questions! Here at Rogue Star, our team of artists and reps would be happy to help you with inquiries or suggestions to ensure that you’re getting what you want at a great price! No need to sacrifice cool swag because of costs! Give us a call to get your order started!