Not long ago I started this clothing company called "Alberta Apparel." I've gotten to the point of producing 50 shirts at a time, doing some lines for companies, and understanding costs!
A friend of mine said to me "$50 is a lot for a shirt" and I would agree. But within each shirt, each print, each design, there is a story which is unique, and I believe my company is unique in our processes, designs and vendors.
I'm going to lay out the simplified journey of a shirt (something we all have to buy regularly!) so hopefully the next time you buy something, you'll have a better appreciation of how many hands it goes through, whether it be a shirt, or shorts, or even your meal.
1. Ordering shirts is fairly straight forward, once you've decided one who to order from. In my case they are Canadian made and made with bamboo. I've negotiated the prices, decided on what styles I like, the particular colors, and the array of sizes too. A shirt can be handled by 2-5 people when it is cut and sewn.
2. Often times they will have "blank" shirts in stock so they ship it to you within a week or so. If they are missing a certain style or color, you will have to wait around 2 weeks in order to get that item.
3. Once the shirts arrive, hopefully its easy to get them to your printer. The printer has to see your artwork, discuss with you (size, colors, position, type of printing, costs, contrast etc) and you have to sign off on this proof and the quote typically.
4. The shirts can take anywhere from 1-3 weeks to get printed, depending on how many items you have to print and how busy the printer is. Once this is done, you have to pick them up as most printers won't ship them to a customer for you.
5. Whether you sell this to a retail location or you have your own retail location, the shirt has to make another journey to the store. If its being delivered by mail, it has to be packaged up nicely, shipping rates have to be determined based on distance, weight and size, then delivery can take 2-4 days within Canada.
From a cost perspective, we have to think about how these all add up for the shirts journey
1. actual shirt cost
2. shipping of the shirt to you/your printer
3. design costs for the graphic to be used
4. decorating costs such as silkscreen, heat pressed vinyl, embroidery
5. set up fees, or film charges, minimums, special ink charges
6. additional alterations for the shirt such as tags, loops, and buttons
7. packaging costs for the item such as safety pins, price tags, tissue paper, bags, shipping bags, stickers, thank you cards.
8. actual shipping costs to get this item to the customer
9. paying your website host the monthly fees (shopify, squarespace) AND maybe even premium templates!
10. does your company donate money do a charity of some sort?
11. transaction fees that your webhost will charge (typically a percentage of sales plus a flat fee per transaction).
12. your time and gas to move things around
13. chartered accountants!
14. lawyers for setting up your company and legal name, book keeping etc.
15. social media costs (very few people do this entirely themselves, they pay someone)
16. photographer (you can take pictures with an iphone or...hire a pro with a real camera)
17. promo items like biz cards, stickers, items for ambassadors etc.
All in all you get the point I hope! You're feedback is welcome...