How Does Pricing Work?
When it comes to the production of apparel, pricing comes down to a number of variables:
- Garment selection
- Total volume of garments
- Number of locations being decorated
- Number of colors used in the design
- Method of production (silk screen, embroidery, direct to garment, dye sublimation, cut & sew)
- Turn time
Lets break these down all individually, in their simplest form
Most common purchased garments include: t-shirts, hats, hoodies, polo shirts. These come in a variety of 100% cotton, 60/40 blend, triblend, 50/50, 100% polyester, and other fabric types. The fabric make up influences the cost of the garment, as well as the style. For instance commonly crewneck shirts are less expensive than V-neck shirts which are less expensive than polo shirts.
Total Volume of Garments
Total volume matters a when it comes to production. Certain types of production have longer set up times, and longer execution times. For example, running 100 shirts silk screen is close to the same amount of time as running 50 pieces because once the production is set up its a matter of loading shirts on the print machine, applying ink and curing. This method is very systematic and quick once set up. Conversely, if we are printing the DTG method, each shirt takes the same amount of time because they are individually pre-treated, printed, and cured 1 at a time to ensure the ink adheres during production. In this case 100 pieces literally takes twice as long as 50 pieces.
Number of Locations being Decorated
This element technically relates to time of production and volume. 1 print location costs less than multiple locations due to curing time, and loading/unloading/reloading shirts. For example. If we are going to print the front of the shirt and the back of the shirt, side 1 is loaded onto the machine, printed, cured and stacked. Once all units of side 1 are printed the garments are set up for side 2 to be printed. That side is loaded onto the machine, printed, cured and then folded, as it is now complete. Therefore 2 sides (2 locations) takes twice as long at 1 location in this example. The time becomes even more drawn out if there are multiple colors per location and/or 3+ locations (sleeves, nape of neck, neck label, etc…). We have printed numerous jobs where there is a neck label, front print; back print, left sleeve, right sleeve, and all with multiple colors. Even though the blank t-shirt cost is the same from the wholesaler, this design is much more expensive to produce based on how many locations are being decorated.
Number of Colors used in the design
DTG, embroidery, and dye sublimation have very few color limitations (if any at all). Number of colors primarily refers to the silk screen process. When a design has multiple colors in a location, they have to be printed in succession. Typically a “flash layer” is applied to colored garments in order to have a white base layer before applying color, kind of like primer on a wall before you paint it in your home. If we are adding 3 colors (Red, Blue, Yellow) the art elements are printed 1 color at a time. For example, the first stroke to the shirt would be the “flash layer” and that layer will cure. Then the red layer would be applied and cured, followed by the blue layer being applied and cured, and finally the yellow layer being applied, and cured. Not only does this use many screens set ups, but also curing time in the production process. Therefore a dark garment shirt with 3 colors actually has 4 layers applied and takes 4x longer to produce than a single white stroke on a dark color garment.
Method of Production
Production costs vary depending on the type as well. We work with clients who need silk screen, embroidery, direct to garment, dye sublimation, and cut & sew. Each of these have different cost elements such as set up time, labor, and material cost. For example, embroidered polo shirts are priced based on garment selected + total volume of garments being embroidered + number of locations + number of stitches used in the locations. Direct to garment pricing is based on garment selected + total volume of garments being printed + number of print locations. See the table below to see what elements go into your selected method of production.
You might think this isn’t a big deal but it actually is. There are instances where the posted turn time may not be soon enough for your needs. When apparel is needed sooner than normal turn times we have to pay for additional staff to come in and complete the work and/or pay overtime for staff who stay over their hourly requirements. While garment cost, number of colors, number of locations may be cut and dry, when it comes to compensating the labor force we will always follow the rules. This is not a “jump ahead of the line” fee, we will always engage in fair labor practices for the protection of our contract manufacturers.