The Art of Shopping for Custom Apparel

Posted by Bill Kanaley on

Do you know where to start when shopping for good quality custom apparel?  If you answered no, you’re part of the majority. You can start with the internet but let’s face it. The internet is both a help and a hindrance. You can find more custom apparel vendors on the internet than you’ve ever imagined but how many of them truly understand the intricacies of the business and produce a high quality product at a reasonable price? You know the old adage, “buyer beware”, that’s a fair warning to heed when shopping for custom apparel. 


So, how do you decide where to shop? There is no perfect science here. The best way to start is to ask for a referral from someone you know who has purchased custom apparel for their business or team. They will likely give you a frank answer. You should ask about the quality of the merchandise received (both the apparel and the customization on the apparel) as well as the turnaround time and the cost. If they recommend this vendor, this is a good place to start your search. You should also read the customer reviews on their website, Google business and social media. Don’t forget to check out their facebook page and see if the reviews are similar in tone to the ones posted elsewhere. This may shock you as it did us as we found vendors with stellar reviews on websites but horrible reviews on facebook. 


Recommendations are good and reviews are key but what else should help you make this decision. Walk through a pricing exercise. When customizing apparel, there are many choices that can drive customization chargers higher or lower. Are you looking for 1, 2 or full color artwork? Is the placement of your logo on the left chest or across the full front of your apparel?  Use pricing calculators on websites or email vendors to get a concrete idea of what it would cost to customize your apparel. Also inquire if there are any minimums required. Believe it or not, we had one customer turn to us for help because their orders were cancelled by the vendor once their online store closed because they didn’t achieve order minimums. This took the client by complete surprise. This is a terrible position to be put in. Also, inquire if the vendor offers free online stores. This is a huge convenience when team members or employees are able to place their orders online. This allows them the opportunity to see the product, its description and what the customization looks like on the article. 


All custom apparel vendors should be able to easily answer all of the questions above. But, can they also tell you what differentiates them from their competition? Yes, some may argue great customization services, fair price and fast turnaround. I would ask, what else? Some vendors go the extra mile to earn your business and to keep your business. For example, at our shop, we offer to add a free name on each player’s article rather than offer this as an add on expense. We know how much the kids love having their name on their team apparel no matter what sport they play. We love the smile it brings to their faces when the apparel gets handed out. We’ve seen this in action and it drives us to continue to find ways to elevate our customer service.


If you do your research and ask the right questions, you will likely find a vendor that meets or perhaps exceeds your expectations. Congratulations. When you find the right vendor, you will likely stay with this vendor for quite some time. Good custom apparel vendors know this. They know they have to keep customer satisfaction levels high to maintain a good long term relationship. Look for those who deliver what they promise. They are the ones who truly appreciate your repeat business and will continue to do what it takes to deliver great products and great service year after year.