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There are many marketing strategies you can use in order to establish your clothing brand (in fact I’ve talked earlier about one of them). Today I would like to talk to you about one specific  marketing strategy in T-shirt  business – sponsoring music talents, enriched with proven examples from independent clothing labels such as yours.

The premise

So you’ve started your own clothing line, launched your website, created  Facebook, Twitter, MySpace plus other social network profiles, but your sales are still poop… umm, I meant – poor? Well chances are you’re doing something wrong with your marketing strategy. This article will help you to find out exactly what.

The facts

Linking music with your clothing line is wise because it gets a lot of attention to your brand. It is also great advertising opportunity for you because it’s cheap. Before I start giving you some tips on how to handle my brand – your band relationship I would like to state a few facts you shouldn’t be running away from.

  • Bands are mannequins – and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you click with the ones you’d like to endorse they will be happy to wear your stuff, just like little pigs in the sea of mud.
  • People are immitators – and there’s nothing wrong with that, either. If they see their favourite band members wear your stuff they will try to indentify with them. That’s – of course – very good for you.
  • You are still poor – now there’s definitely something wrong with that. “What am I doing wrong here”, you ask? For starters – go through some of the proven examples of brands + bands + fans love.
Last Of His Kind wearing Winky Boo T-shirt

Last Of His Kind wearing Winky Boo T-shirt

The practice

Now it’s time to think about how you’re gonna handle the sponsorship. You don’t want to end up with all these bands wearing your stuff while you’re out of  the “green ones”. Following are several tips you should consider implementing into your strategy.

  • Have a concept – you should know why do you want to sponsor music talents in the first place. “We do get a lot of people emailing saying – I saw so and so wearing your shirt last night so I’m going to pick one up”, says Christopher McIntosh of UK’s clothing line Nokturnal Clothing (which I’ve recently featured here at Tee zine), and continues: “some people may get worried that the products they are seeing online don’t physically exist, so seeing bands wearing our clothing and supporting us helps a lot”.
  • Target clever – chances are your potential customers are into similar music style your sponsored act represents. Simon of independent label Gimongus Clothing says: “of course sponsoring bands is good for Gimongus. They are wearing it on stage in front of 50, 100, 500… so a lot of people can see our shirts. They’re putting us on their Facebook, MySpace and Twitter profiles, and some of them let us print our logo in the back of their own band shirts, what’s pretty sick”!
  • Do a contract – think about the terms and conditions of the sponsorship, especially if you’re arranging things with some bigger bands management. Write it down. It’s good for you, as well as for them. Amy L. Fiedler of Winky Boo clothing says: “They [bands] perform in the clothing, wear it in photoshoots for their albums and link up our website to their pages, ie: Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc”.
  • Don’t do a contract – print out your contract and then tear it apart. It’s best if you can do your sponsorhip on trust basis. “We don’t draw up contracts or anything like that”, says Christopher of Nokturnal, “but it’s an agreement that bands will wear our products on stage every so often and our sponsors genuinely like our products and wear them frequently anyway”.
Summerlin in Nokturnal Clothing gear

Summerlin in Nokturnal Clothing gear

The conclusion

As I’ve said earlier – sponsoring music talents is cheap way of advertising. It will surely help your brands’ recognition and it will increase your sales with time.

“So far our website traffic has increased drastically and our Facebook, Myspace and Twitter pages have become more popular”, states Amy L. Fiedler of Winky Boo, “if the band(s) you work with believe in your brand and it fits their style, it works out well because they get free gear to perform in while you get free publicity”.

You can do more

Of course you can always do more for your line. Options are many and here are just some of them.

  • Sponsor music events – why don’t you try and sponsor concerts, festivals, tours… You don’t have to invest a lot of money into this and you can always make such an agreement to return your initial funds from part of ticket sales.
  • Put up your stands at music events – make special offers and don’t forget to put some free stuff there like stickers or pins cause people LOVE it and they can put your stickers everywhere (or pinch someone with your pin)!
  • Do an acoustic session – if you already have a shop (or some shop carries your stuff) do a special acoustic session with your sponsored act and invite people. It’s inexpensive and different. Well, kinda different…
  • Ask to be printed – it would be cool if your logo appeared on record sleeves, tour posters or merchandise of your sponsored act. So ask them and it might pass;
  • Arrange your own photo shoots – because no one else will. Perhaps some bands would, but it’s better if you have control over it. If possible take pictures of bands playing live with your gear on. Put these pictures on all your web presence sites. Note that this is very important  on many levels (I had some troubles finding the right images to illustrate this article, for example).
End Of Crisis in Gimongus Clothing T-shirts (RIP Tonny Potvin Grondin)

End Of Crisis in Gimongus Clothing T-shirts (RIP Tonny Potvin Grondin)

Hope these tips expand your imagination. These are not the sacred rules, of course. I know I might have been a bit harsh towards bands here, when in reality I really love to see my favourite bands wearing cool shirts, too.

Agree? Disagree? Got an example of successful endorsement? Let me know by leaving your comment below. Your opinion is greatly appreciated. And please make sure to check out all of the brands & bands featured in this article.

Nokturnal Clothing endorses Summerlin and few other bands.
Gimongus Clothing endorses End Of Crisis and few other bands.
Winky Boo endorses Last Of His Kind and Saving October.

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Schools can be so cruel.  Especially if you have bad taste in picking up the stuff to wear. If it wasn’t so with RoyLyn Le’Vaughan Palmer-Coleman, I wouldn’t be blogging about his relatively new and exciting clothing line Vaughn De Heart. So, how to overcome everydays’ mocking by your school mates? By designing your own shirts, of course! In no time RoyLyn’s DIY shirts were more popular than Lady GaGa’s latest single. Well, almost… However, the brand called Vaughn de Heart (Vaughn “of heart”) was conceived after RoyLyn designed shirts for his college fraternity. Once he saw a completely unknown man with wife and kids wearing one of his shirts RoyLyn decided to start his own line.

By the first look it’s evident Vaughn De Heart designs are of simple shapes, yet still they occupy rather large areas of garment. It’s also perceptible they incline toward classic fashion styles, so I guess Vaughn De Heart could become popular among the people who follow trends, along with the ones who are of free spirit and passionate in everything they do. Just like RoyLyn.

I like the fact RoyLyn didn’t leave his design only at chest print. There’s Vaughn De Heart logo printed on the sleeve of each shirt, along with nice looking tags which are telling the subtitles to each design (plus the instructions on how to maintain your piece of cloth). It surely gives the personal touch, while looking great at the same time.

All Vaughn De Heart items are limited edition and RoyLyn is not planning reprints after all are gone. He will rather focus on new designs. Not only does Vaughn De Heart produces great T-shirts – they also offer a backpack, too (well, more like the bag you can wear on your back). Maybe that’s just the beggining of extending the line? Who know, we’ll see. The bottom line is – with such profiled approach Vaughn De Heart is on the right path climbing up The Mountain Of Independent Fashion.

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Well it’s fall here in Croatia, Halloween is coming tomorrow night, and what a better time to present a tee which is called “Falling Time” than this? Asking for a review at my blog, Sebastian from Canaduh’s clothing line 604Republic was very kind and offered me a chance to choose a shirt I liked the best from their online shop. My eye caught this wonderful design with a Victorian-looking man falling down and I liked the title, so my choice was obvious. And in case you haven’t heard of 604Republic yet – in their own words it’s “awesome hoodies, amazing apparel”. A few days later I had the chance to ascertain myself of that, as 604Republic parcel found my doors.

Upon unpacking the shirt it was clearly it’s of finest quality, along with the detailed design. It was also evident the shirt is a bit thicker / heavier, which is something you either like or not (I like the diversity with my tees, for example). After I tried the shirt on I’ve also noticed it’s a bit long, which can improve the line of your body, making you look taller and slimmer (specially in my case – at least it’s my illusion). Shirt feels comfortable on your body, although you might find it a bit too tight, which depends on your body constitution.

The design itself is – in my opinion – fantastic and perhaps one of the best tee designs I’ve seen lately. Not only it is done with a great precision, but it looks great and feels nice when you touch it. To make it clearer, I’ve made a few photos in macro-mode on my camera, which is used to take pictures of flowers and insects a few milimetres away from your lens to accent the details. You can slearly see the fibers, along with the awesome screen printing job 604Republic made with this particuar design.

One of the main characteristics of 604Repulic apparel is paying an extra attention to the detail (it can be seen by browsing their online shop), which is illustrated the best by these tiny bits of falling clods. I especially liked how they colored this unfortunate man’s skin by using the somewhat pop-art technique, with all these dots. Oh – and an extra plus for the choice of yellow and blue color combination, which was used to emphasize the drama which is going on.

“This unfortunate gentleman was either thrown or jumped, I suppose we’ll never know the real story”, says 604Apparel. At least he’s taking his watch with him, we agree, loving the word play in the title of this design and it’s position right on the bottom of a tee (if we waited a second more maybe we would have missed the scene). R.I.P., you poor man! It’s hard to survive this kind of falling.

604Republic printed this design on Alstyle Apparel pre-shrunked 100% cotton shirt. I’ve already said it appears to be of finest quality, with the double-needle bottom hem and sleeves. However, I have one complaint. Since an extra attention is paid to details, I’d love if there was a 604Republic neck tag sewn in, or attached to the Alstyle tag. Or even a smaller print / 604Republic logo on the sleeve or at the back of a tee. Anyways, this design is also available as a hoodie, which is this company’s primary product. In my opinion – the design looks better on a tee just because of the print position.

“Falling Time” T-shirt and hoodie are available through 604Republic online shop, where you can find a nice assortment of items in both men and women styles. Concentrating it’s business primarly on hoodies and not on tees, this line  is perhaps choosing the harder way in terms of selling, but no doubt they might position themselves high based on the quality of their designs and products.

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It’s interesting how the “Lion Of Judah” term is often used as a synonym for Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, who believed that he is a direct descendant of the Israelite Tribe Of Judah. If you look carefully, almost every other kid in your town wears a shirt with this image of a fearless lion, mixed with green / yellow / red colors of Etiophian flag. Not to offend all of you rastas, but when speaking of Christian tradition, that term represents Jesus Christ Himself (there are some other interpretations of “Lion Of Judah”, too).

Following that path, newly launched American indie label, called Paid In Full Apparel, prints their designs based on some motives from Christian tradition, along with their nicely put slogan “fresh graphics / eternal message”. In fact – I’ve written about them last month, some of you may remember that… I must say that Paid In Full is printed by 316 Graphics, and Philip Hepler – the man behind it – was really kind when he asked which one of his designs / tees would I like to review at my blog. I chose Lion Of Judah tee right away, because it’s a strong design with kinda hidden message (the title “Lion Of Judah” is nicely made as a part 0f Lion’s mane).

Lion 01

My sample shirt arrived a couple of days later, and it was all wrapped and banded with Paid In Full tape. Once I’ve unwrapped it, I noticed a really cool detail, attached to a shirt’s sleeve by a safety pin. It consisted of Paid In Full Apparel’s label, with an explanation of a company’s philosophy (their designs are meant to be a conversation starter to witness to others about Jesus Christ), plus an unique scripture verse selected at random (mine was Matthew 22:37 – “Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your mind”). Now, that is a really nice idea!

Logo

Once I dressed the shirt (it comes in 3 colors – sand, military green and cream), I noticed that it’s a bit longer than I’ve expected. I mean, I regularly wear M size and all my tees seem to suit me fine, but this one is up to my legs, fitting nicely at my body at the same time. However, I don’t mind wearing it that way, ’cause I don’t think it looks bad (and my problem is I’m not that tall). I am mentioning that fact just for you to have that in mind when ordering from Paid In Full.

The image itself is powerful, I mean – just look at the eyes of that Lion! If I’m not mistaken Philip drew it himself, and if so – he made a great job! Lions are known to be fearless (mostly), they are crowned “kings of all animals”, and having in mind what this particular design is representing, I would say this shirt is done really clever. I always felt religion as something really personal, and even if it’s a Christian tradition to witness your religion, I like the fact that the message of this design / shirt is somewhat hidden and ambiguous.

Paid In Full

Since this shirt is tagless (there is no label sewed on the inside) Paid In Full printed their logo on the inner side. That’s also done with a style, and there are instructions on how to wash / iron your shirt incorporated into the design. Regular price of the shirt is $18, but right now this tee is on sale for $16. I must repeat that when buying from Pain In Full Apparel you’re supporting ministry (at least 10 percent of each sale is given to that cause). All in all, I would say I got really great done, comfortable cotton shirt, which is a bit heavier (I guess it’s 180g) and I’ll sure feel good wearing it (and I do that often).

At the end, I’d like you to see 3 brand new Paind In Full designs that are being printed these days (2 are women’s and one is men’s design). They’re called Saved By Grace (it will feature crystalina glitter ink), True Love Throught Christ and Rooted In Christ (I like the latter the best).

Saved-by-GraceTrue-LoveRooted-in-Christ

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Despite what many people will say, I believe we are all a bit thirsty for some spirituality somewhere deep inside. And if it comes in the form of nicely executed, not exaggarating tee designs – who can resist it? With Paid In Full apparel it’s a matter of Christianity, and before you all wander off this blog, let me just say the message of these designs is universal, so it shouldn’t offend that little atheist in you. Paid In Full apparel is a new indie label, with the mission of telling the message from the Revelation in a non-offensive, acceptable and universal way. So far, they have only released two designs and here they are.

king-of-kings-detail2lion-of-judah-detail

I especially liked “Lion Of Judah” design and the way the letters are made a part of lion’s mane. It looks like some Bob Marley / reggae themed shirt… Both designes are available on shirts in 3 different colors. Tees are usually $18, but there is a sale at the moment (for the limited quantities), so you can have each one for $16. Nice thing is that at least 10% of the sales of each shirt is given for the ministry. And if you’re not a Christian yourself, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a bit of soul in ya…

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This guy is cool. Amorphia Apparel stands for a talented tee designer Jeremy Kalgreen, who make vector designs for printing onto American Apparel 100% cotton shirts. I find his designs quite funny and some of them are really sarcastic, even though I’m not a fan of all the “funny” T-shirt slogans and designs out there. However, a couple of Amorphia Apparel shirts made me laugh. I especially like the fact that you can order the print you like on various products, such us bags and ringer shirts, just like at Spreadshirt or at Cafepress. Same design can also come in different color(s), which is in contrast to color of the shirt / bag. So, here are some of his new designs I like (at least I hope they’re new)…

copilot by amorphiafuckingpter by amorphiarex by amorphiashadowhostage by amorphia

Apparently, Amorphia Apparel uses a plot printing technique. Frankly, I didn’t have a clue that it can look so good. For those who didn’t know, this technique cuts out a thin layer of polyurethane color material (flock, flex) with cutting machine, and then the color material is heat-pressed until it fuses to the fabric. Prices range from 12 to 25 US dollars, depending on products you want to buy. Since each design is printed by demand, there is not a big stock of stuff to buy. Rather then that, they treat each of their products as unique. They also ship worldwide, so the shipping prices depend on where you live. I don’t think you need much more recommendations to go to Amorphia Apparel online shop and order something.

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