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The Fine Print: Let's talk about tees!

The 6 biggest t-shirt blunders of 2017


We’ve seen all kinds of t-shirt designs come in from our t-shirt printing website over the years. A lot of messages and images make no sense to us but we assume they are somehow meaningful to our customer. So we print them with care and mail them off assuming they are going to fulfill some objective whether it be a gift, supportive of a team environment, or fulfilling a branding goal for a business.

We watch the decorated apparel industry closely and generally take a look at news stories that involve t-shirt printing. Sometimes the stories are full of positive notes like t-shirt fundraiser stories that help bring relief to causes such as Hurricane Harvey. Or t-shirt fundraisers that help raise money for charitable causes large and small.

On the flip side, there are also plenty of stories that result from a t-shirt controversy. It’s fairly easy to start a debate these days especially with social media and t-shirts being the vehicle of expressing opinions. While there are a lot of controversial topics we could cover, we narrowed it down to a few for this recap of the 6 biggest t-shirt blunders of 2017.

A store on London’s High Street called Primark made the spotlight in a notorious way by featuring a line of t-shirts using quotes from the teen cult movie, “Mean Girls.” Phrases like “You can’t sit with us.” The store is located in a high traffic and highly fashionable area. The woman that started the firestorm, Dawn Thomson, is a therapist and mother of two young girls. She lambasted the company stating that it’s “irresponsible” to feature t-shirts with this kind of messaging without considering people that already feel detached and lonely. After garnering the attention of the company and lots of others on social media, the store responded saying there was no harm intended and it’s simply using licensed quotes as reference to popular culture.

Teespring sees its fair share of blundering in the spotlight. Primarily because they don’t make the designs that are featured on their website, their users do. However a better screening process would help matters so t-shirts featuring the slogan, “eat, sleep, rape, repeat” don’t become a nightmare focus on their website. The campaign featuring this design was called out by columnist Miranda Larbi. Certainly we don’t assume anyone at Teespring knowingly approved this or had anything to do with it, but it took several attempts to get their attention to see how truly disturbing and wrong it was. Their first response was a blanket statement apologizing for any offense but as long as it doesn’t violate their policies, they don’t take down campaigns. Apparently after that was sent to the reporter, someone a little higher up was alerted and another response was sent out basically acknowledging the campaign did not follow their policies which do not support violence of any kind. Thank goodness somebody took a closer look.

A very ill thought out campaign from KA Design clothing company mushroomed into a horror story earlier this year as they tried to rehabilitate the hated symbol of the Nazi’s, the swastika, on t-shirts. Perhaps they thought that enough time had passed and it was an opportunity to reclaim the symbol in its ancient form. Originally the swastika was a symbol used in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism as an icon for well-being, good luck, and abundance. Somehow the Nazi party decided it was a symbol for racial purity and ruined it for the rest of the world forever. Apparently KA Design didn’t get this and tried to give the swastika another chance branded as its original meaning. Somehow the rainbow connection was supposed to wash all the negativity away. It did not work and fortunately the campaign and the design were taken down. Some symbols can never be recovered once associated with atrocities against humanity.

Kendall and Kylie Jenner are famous for being famous and are using their super powers to build their bank accounts. However earlier this year, they took it several steps too far when foolishly superimposing images of themselves over truly famous rap and rock icons and selling the images on t-shirts for $125.. Maybe they thought they were doing these icons a favor by making them culturally relevant again? The artists and the artists families strongly disagreed and they we’re called out by the legends they tried to profit from. Notorious Big’s mother, Sharon Osbourne, Kelly Osbourne, Paris Jackson, James Hetfield, and the Doors, (via their lawyer) all made statements concerning how disrespectful the concept was. The girls quickly removed the posts featuring the stolen pictures.

Zazzle also features a marketplace where users can generate their own campaigns and sell their designs through the site. Late this summer they got some not very pleasant publicity when some users noticed slogans for black women empowerment being modeled on white women. When a user creates a design on the site, they are presented with a choice of models to use to feature their t-shirt design. It may be that there are no black models to choose from or that the person creating the design didn’t think it was relevant to marketing their idea. While nothing about the campaign goes against their policies, it would be useful if they could either provide racially relevant models or suggest to their users they would see more success if they used a model that complemented the messaging of their design.

The last on our list has to do with being wary when you see a celebrity wearing a t-shirt promoting a cause. Especially when the links on the website don’t have anything to do with the cause or have any explanation concerning where the funds go. Angela Soriano, a reporter for Chicagonow noticed something funny when she was targeted in a Facebook ad for the March for Science this last April. The ad featured Tom Hanks. With an endorsement coming from a man like that, it would seem to be legitimate. But this reporter took a closer look and noticed something funny. The image looked a little wonky and after researching the links, she discovered that the logo on the t-shirt was not official, nor was it linking to an official website. Instead it linked to a SunFrog site, yet another one of those build your own t-shirt store sites that allows random people to generate designs that are then printed by the hosting company. The photo of Tom Hanks wearing the design had been Photoshopped. We’re pretty sure being part of a newspaper article on phoniness was not the goal of the seller. When buying t-shirts to promote a cause, be sure to look for any information regarding where the proceeds go. If there isn’t one, you’re supporting someone, but probably not the cause you feel strongly about.

A Different Way to Look at T-Shirts for Business

Seeing t-shirts differently

Every week we try to share new and useful information on how t-shirts impact all sorts of facets of our lives. We talk about different types of t-shirts and their specific uses. We explore t-shirt design ideas for different types of life events. We share tips and tricks on how to make high quality t-shirt designs. We even look at how t-shirts can impact politics, camaraderie with sports teams, schools, and families. But just how can custom t-shirts have an effect on your business? Here’s some thoughts on t-shirts in the workplace you many have never considered.

T-shirt sizing is something that you hardly even have to think about. Everybody knows what size t-shirt they wear if it’s a unisex Hanes Tagless Tees for example. Employees will rarely have anxiety about how it will look on them because almost everyone on the planet has worn a t-shirt at one time or another.

T-shirts are extremely affordable to have printed. When ordering custom t-shirts, to keep costs down, a white t-shirt with a single color print is almost always the least expensive option. We even offer the DAS Value Tee that is guaranteed to be the most cost effective t-shirt product we offer. The DAS Value tee is an alternating product which is simply the least expensive on-sale t-shirt we can buy from any of our suppliers. We pass the savings on to you resulting in an extremely cheap option for business uniforms. The cost per t-shirt goes down when ordering in bulk so that’s something to keep in mind when placing your order. It could pay off to speak with one of our customer service team to discover where significant price breaks can occur.

T-shirts are highly adaptable. Designing on a t-shirt affords the artist to use any messaging and explore all kinds of designs. Because they are so affordable, trying different advertising concepts is worthwhile to see which ones resonate with your staff and customers the best. There are printing options available for just about any type of idea like puff ink, glow-in-the-dark, glitter, metallic gold, silver, and copper. Screen printing and digital printing also offer different types of final product such as vibrant and intense colors or full color photo like quality.

The turnaround time for acquiring custom made t-shirts can be surprising. Consider the time it takes to have anything custom made. It usually requires weeks while we’ve been able to hone down production and delivery time to a mere 10-calendar days. If you find yourself in a pinch though and need them even sooner, we do offer even quicker options of 3 and 5 business days for an extra fee.

T-shirt types are plentiful. Depending on the purpose of your tees, there are options for just about anything. Need performance wear for outdoor staff? We’ve got that. Are you looking for t-shirts with men’s and women’s options? We’ve got that. Need something printed on sustainable products. We offer that. Even if you need something that fits everybody from youth sizes to 6XL, we can source that too. Need something with a more professional edge? We can embroider and print on polos as well.

Don’t forget about the comfort factor that t-shirts offer. Many employees and customers will be grateful to have the option to wear something that is 100% cotton or made of a soft cotton-poly blend. The fit of a good quality t-shirt is flattering on just about any body type too.

The feeling of being part of team is hard to ignore if you’re all wearing the same t-shirt uniform. It’s much easier for customers to recognize whose attention to gain if there are problems with services or questions on products if your staff is easily identifiable with branded company t-shirts. Staff uniforms can also improve the safety of your event when the proper identification of staff is easy to recognize. Additionally standardized company t-shirts can help reduce the stress HR may have to deal with when some employees refuse to understand the company dress code. If a company logoed t-shirt is the norm for your business, there’s zero chance for misinterpretation.

As with many schools nowadays, a uniform can also reduce the anxiety members of your team may feel about keeping up appearances in concert with some of the more highly paid staff. From the general manager, to the cleanup crew, everyone can feel they have an equal footing as regards to how they represent your company. T-shirts are so versatile, you can dress them up or down in accordance with the type of company you have.

Giving away your branded t-shirts to customers is a favorite method for promoting businesses. Everyone knows what a t-shirt is and there are so many uses for them. T-shirts are a universal garment and whether your customers use your t-shirt giveaway as workout clothes, something to make a dash to the store in, or something to wear on weekends it will always be a useful item to promote your company.

T-shirt giveaways can also increase brand loyalty since your showing your customers how much you value their business. T-shirts have stood the test of time and while trends come and go, the t-shirt will always have a place in fashion since they are so comfortable and convenient.

We hope we’ve presented a different way to look at t-shirts in the workplace thoroughly and you can see just how your business can use t-shirts to unify your team quickly and affordably, and how to use t-shirts to promote your business with customers.

Branded Bags, Would they Work for You?

Custom Tote Bags

When considering different forms of advertising, you have tremendous options available to you as a business owner or team leader. Some advertising can be very costly, time consuming to execute, and measuring the value can be complicated depending on the metrics you use.

Branded bags open up a world of opportunity for brand awareness. There are huge assortments of bag types that may appeal to your intended consumer, so it’s important to take the time to get inside your customer’s head to choose the type of product they would not only be delighted to receive but also offer practical value to them.

When getting custom branded bags as promotional products, it’s also important to consider the cost of each unit. You can evaluate how much you want to invest based upon the value of your customer. For example, if your customer represents a significant amount of sales dollars per purchase and are business professionals, it may be worth the investment to provide swanky messenger bags or laptop briefcases.

If your typical customer represents low volume but repeat sales, a lightweight backpack or cotton tote could be well received and still provide function and branding for your business.

Promotional products like branded bags aren’t just for customers. Offering your employees branded bags as a thank you can increase morale, and build loyalty, not to mention it’s more branding for your company. did a study of American consumers and came up with the following findings: 83% of American consumers surveyed like receiving a promotional product with an advertising message, 48% would like to receive promotional products more often, and 38% feel promotional products serve as a constant reminder of the advertiser. These are pretty strong indicators that promotional products do work and are valued by consumers. Additional findings through the consumer research revealed that 91% had at least one promotional product in their kitchen, 74% had at least one promotional product in their work area, and 55% had at least one promotional product in their bedroom closet/storage space.

Choosing the right kind of bag to have printed or embroidered for giveaways and branding can be summed up by the intended recipient. Here’s a quick guide to help you choose the right branded bag to achieve the desired results.

Tote Bags

Tote bags for Everyone for Everything

Branded tote bags are perhaps the most popular, most economical choice for branding your business and providing a fun, practical gift. Tote bags make perfect sense for trade shows giveaways because attendees need something to carry all the other giveaways in! Tote bags work for groups like sororities, churches, schools, events, professional businesses, restaurants, salons, parents, crafters, travelers, and anyone who ever needed a way to transport a few items. They can be thrown in cars for easy access at the grocery store and stored in suitcases for dirty laundry.

Business Professionals and Laptop Bags

Laptop bags are highly coveted for their usefulness and functionality. A quality bag will typically be made of polyester and have PVC lining for durability. Detachable and padded shoulder straps along with comfort grip carrying handles are the norm. They typically will have two or more compartments for storing a laptop and smaller devices like a tablet. Additionally they will feature lots of zippered compartments for accessories, office supplies, and a cell phone. Add your branding to one of these and you’re going to get exposure in airports, conference rooms, and trade shows.


Backpacks for Students on the Move and Gym Members

You can’t go wrong with a good quality, lightweight backpack. The utility is hard to beat which makes it such an exceptional choice for branded bags. Whether hauling books or gym clothes, a backpack provides compartments for the extras like lunch, keys, cell phones, and accessories.

Draw String Bags

Drawstring Bags for Frugal Branding with Schools and Sports Teams

The versatility of drawstring bags is difficult to surpass plus they come in lots of color block choices, stripes, or bright single colors. These types of branded bags would be appreciated by just about any demographic but particularly are popular for use as a lunchbox, dirty travel clothes, and a toiletry kit. Of course they can be used for a quick trip to the store for a small haul without having to use a plastic bag.

The value of branding for your business is paramount regardless of your industry. Branded bags are just one of the many options for customizing your business’s message and gaining exposure for new customers and reinforcing your relationship with current customers. People love a tangible connection with brands they love and as giveaways, it’s a great ice breaker to forge new relationships and keep your product or service fresh in their mind.

Simple, Easy, and Cheap Halloween T-Shirt Costumes

Let’s face it, some of us are not crazy creative with a hot glue gun, glitter, and pipe straws. Maybe this year you’re too busy to deal with going to the costume store and waiting in those crazy long lines. Or perhaps you’re sick of spending a ton of time and money at the Halloween costume store just to show up in the same costume as a few other people at the Halloween party. If you’ve had it with the hassle, fuss, and muss of coming up with yet another Halloween costume, we invite you to take a look at some of these simplistic alternatives to make your own effortless, easy, and cheap Halloween t-shirt costumes.

Ketchup and Mustard

Ketchup and Mustard Costumes

This idea is perfect for couples and best friends. You can keep it simple with just a tee or go all out with temporary yellow and red hair dye and matching colored jeans. Wait and see if anyone gives you a squeeze in this duo outfit.

Emoji Group Costume Idea

Emoji Group Costumes

Emojis are modern day hieroglyphics that allow us to express a wealth of emotion with the use of simple symbols. They’ve pervaded communication and have become so popular that even a grandma that doesn’t use a cell phone still understands the gist of these characters. If you have a group of friends that want to make a statement this Halloween check out these emoji t-shirts.

Taco Bell Sauce Packets

Taco Bell Hot Sauce Costumes

Another fantastic group Halloween costume idea is going as the sauce packets of Taco Bell. We’ve got them all listed here so it’s perfect if you have a lot of friens. The only thing you’ll have to worry about is the fight for who gets to be “Hot.” Change the copy on the packets to custom messages in our design studio.

Playing Cards

Playing Card Costumes

This idea is great for groups or going trick-or-treating solo. You can find additional symbols for all the cards in the deck by searching “games” in our design studio. Choose Galatia font and switch colors between red and black to make any card you like. Flip the bottom left image by using our flip design functionality.


Swat Team Costumes

This has got to be the easiest one we offer, all you need is some black pants and black shoes and you and your friends have a group Halloween costume with hardly any effort.

The Price is Right

The Price is Right Costumes

This game show transcends generations. Be part of the iconic game show with you and three other friends. Change names and colors on the t-shirt by accessing our design studio and editing. Fake game boards not included with t-shirt though but we made ours with cardboard, paint, and precut numbers.

Tequila Shots

Tequila Shots

We love this trio Halloween costume idea with Salt, Lime, and Tequila. Round this costume off with real bottles of tequila as hand held props.

Solo Cups

Solo Cups

The great thing about this Halloween costume idea is it can be pulled off SOLO or with a group of people. Dress it up even more with a ping-pong ball necklace and you’re beer pong too!

99 Problems but my Girl Ain’t One

A cute couple’s Halloween costume idea ideally matched with black baseball caps, pants, and shoes.

All the flavors of M&M’s

All the M&M flavors are represented here but you don’t have to be a group. Even couples can pull this one off.

Netflix Chill

Netflix Chill

Everybody’s familiar with the phrase, “Netflix and Chill,” make the figurative literal with this costume. Maybe you’ll find your matching Netflix at the party.

Lock and Key

The perfect concept for an uncomplicated and comfortable couple’s Halloween costume.

Strawberry and Pineapple

It’s so easy to throw on these simple tees and go as a fruit duo. You can make it fancier with matching green hats.

There you have it. Halloween doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive. These t-shirt costumes show how easy it is to dress up this holiday without having to be super creative or spending a lot of time hunting the right costume down. Order your t-shirt costumes early to get free 10-day delivery in time for Halloween.

What’s the Best Method to use when having Custom T-shirts Made?

Screen Printing

There are multiple ways to custom decorate apparel with advantages and disadvantages to each method. The most commonly used methods of application are screen printing (or silk screening), direct-to-garment, (also known as digital printing,) heat transfers, cad cut vinyl, and embroidery. We’ll examine the differences between these methods and the best uses for each one.

Heat Transfer

Heat transfers are probably one the easiest routes when looking to apply decorations permanently to a t-shirt. It’s great for complex images and full color photo quality prints or when you need a full color print on a polyblend tee. The design is digitally printed onto the transfer material and then applied using heat and pressure on a heat press. The downside to using this method is the feel and certain limitations to the product used. It’s literally a big sticker so you can imagine how it might feel to wear a big sticker on a t-shirt. The ink is melted into the fabric so it may leave you feeling like your walking around with a plastic badge on your chest. The products used for this method have to be heat tolerant as well so care need to be used when applying to this.

Names and Numbers

Cad Cut Vinyl is pretty much the only cost effective way to print t-shirts with custom names and numbers as in team t-shirts. It’s also the only way to print high sparkle glitter t-shirts and other special effects like shiny foil and holograms. The vinyl is cut out on a plotter machine using digital software. The image then requires manual weeding away of the excess vinyl surrounding the image. It is applied in the same manner as heat transfers meaning it must be adhered to the garment using a heat press. The disadvantage is that this application can leave the decoration vulnerable to peeling off if the garment is improperly washed. Bleach should never be used to launder the garment and an iron is never recommended.

Screen Print

Screen printing is probably the most widely used method to decorate custom apparel. It produces vibrant colors and the print will last the life of the garment which is not always the case when using other methods. It’s by far the best option when ordering many t-shirts with the same design. There is virtually no limitation when it comes to colors or product type which can introduce some difficulties using other print methods. The drawback is the cost for small runs. In no way could screen printing ever be economically done for less than a six shirt order. So it’s no good for gift t-shirts or joke t-shirts. Each color requires an individual screen to be burned so if you need a really complex design, with more than 7 colors, it’s not recommended. Additionally screen printing with many colors can be quite expensive because of the extra work required in creating all the screens. We recommend screen printing as the most cost effective method to produce a large number of shirts with a relatively simple design using one or a few colors.

Digital Print

Direct-to-garment printing basically revolutionized the custom t-shirt industry. This method allows us to print a single custom t-shirt and offer it at a reasonable price for our customers. There is no limitation to the number of colors that can be used and photo like quality is a standard result. The ink is printed on and it soaks into the garment. Any color t-shirt can be used for almost any design because a white base is layered onto the fabric before the rest of the colors are applied. After print, it’s cured using a heat press. Because of the application process, we are however limited to the use of t-shirts made of 100% cotton. These products can be found on our website marked “no minimum.” Another drawback to digitally printed tees is they will not hold up to wash and wear as well as screen printing. The ink is not melted into the fabric like other applications.


Embroidery is typically the higher end of custom decorated apparel. The design is reproduced with embroidery thread and stitched onto the garment. This method is ideal for polo shirt decoration and provides a very polished look to business wear, hats, and uniforms. This method is very sturdy and will last the life of the garment. There is virtually no limitation to the type of garment that can be embroidered upon but we have recommendations based upon the design. Embroidery is priced by the stitch so to keep costs under control we don’t recommend very complex designs that require a lot of detail. In fact, a detailed design will lose a lot of clarity simply because of the limitations of an embroidery machine. Small trademark symbols are virtually lost. Because of setup costs, there is the requirement of a minimum order of six and it requires a longer production time.

So with all of these methods available to personalize your wardrobe what’s the best solution for your needs? Here’s a breakdown of the questions you should ask yourself. How many items do I need? Do I need to mix and match colors or product types like unisex, ladies, juniors, or youth sizes? Is my design complex? Does my design require a lot of colors? Does the garment need to hold up to lot of wear over time? Will I need to frequently wash the garment in hot water with harsh detergent? Is price the most important factor? Do I need performance wear or a product with a high polyester blend? Do I need specialty effects printing , (outside of glow in the dark, neon, puff, regular glitter, or crystalina?) Am I going to need this design duplicated in the future with varied quantity requirements?

If you’ve answered all of these questions but still aren’t sure which print method is the best for your needs, our highly educated customer service team is ready to help you with recommendations and pointers. Call, email, or chat with a live representative.