Category Archives: T-Shirts

Is it T-shirt weather yet?

Spring will come some day. We are almost sure of it!

Spring will come some day. We are almost sure of it!

All along the East Coast and New England, residents are breaking out the bad language. First they were stoic, then humorous, but now they are just downright angry. These normally pleasant people have had enough of winter. Especially in Boston where record-low temperatures conspire with record-high snowfall – even the New York Times calls this winter “Boston’s Winter From Hell.” (You can read the article here.)

Many of us heretofore considered Hell a little bit warmer. But now we know better. Which brings us to this important perennial question: “Is it T-shirt weather  yet?” Depending on how hardy a soul you are, T-shirt weather might be 65 degrees. Our Southern friends might not consider baring arms until the temperatures reach the upper 70’s.

With the Vernal Equinox, the official start of Spring, less than a month away, we thought we’d take a look at some regional forecasts for shirtsleeves season, T-shirt weather.

Let’s say that for the average T-shirt lover, 70 is warm enough to go out there in just a T. Given this 70 degree benchmark we took a look at average high temperatures in some of our nation’s larger cities.

T-shirt season comes to these cities in April:
Atlanta
Charlotte
Houston
Memphis

T-shirt season comes to these cities in May:
Baltimore
Chicago
Cincinnati
Denver
Hartford
Kansas City

T-shirt season does not come to these cities until JUNE!
Boston
Buffalo
Milwaukee
Minneapolis

We are so sorry, Boston! Being a Vermont company, we are in the same, chilly seasonal boat. Can we recommend something in nice long-sleeve t-shirt or maybe a nice warm sweatshirt?

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The Flag T-shirt

Jamaica_flag_300One of our favorite people is in Jamaica this week, soaking up the tropical vibe with his family. A well-deserved, long-overdue vacation. We won’t mention his name, as tropical vacations can stir up emotions like resentment and envy for those left behind in the deep freeze. We refuse to stir up such emotions, instead we happily reminisce about flag t-shirts.

The Jamaican flag t-shirt for example is a popular fashion statement that conjures up visions of beautiful beaches, smiling people and Bob Marley. Just imagine the sun caressing your face as you recline in a hammock in your favorite T listening to Bob Marley on the radio.

There have been a few other equally evocative flag t-shirts over the years: namely the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes. It’s hard to think of a Union Jack T-shirt without thinking of The Who. Rodger Daltry, when he wore a shirt, created quite a fashion rage with the English flag way back when. The American flag has some more recent musical fashion icons: Busta Rhymes has an awesome Stars and Stripes tank top, Mr. T had a red, white and blue jumpsuit, Lil Wayne and Axl Rose both sported red, white and blue boxers. But we digress.

Let’s get back to Jamaica and Bob Marley. Here is a little tribute. If you are stuck at your desk, keep the beat by tapping your pen against your coffee mug and imagine you are playing the cowbell in Jammin’:

Have an awesome vacation, Kevin. Ooops. Now we’ve done it. Bring us back a nice T-shirt, if you think of it.

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Red Sox Nation and a Brief History of Sports Marketing

FenwayThe East Coast woke up this morning to a distinct red tint. It’s the morning after in Red Sox Nation.

This region’s love affair with the Boston baseball team is like many affairs of the heart by turns exhilarating and debilitating. The New York Times describes it this way: “For much of the 20th century, the Boston Red Sox were a symbol of frustration and pain for an entire region. As popular as they were in their corner of the nation, either they were good enough to lose in agonizing fashion on baseball’s grandest stage, or they were just plain bad. But that all changed in 2004 when the Red Sox ended an 86-year championship drought, and now their fortunes have shifted so dramatically that winning titles has become commonplace.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/31/sports/baseball/boston-red-sox-rout-st-louis-cardinals-to-win-world-series.html?_r=0)

Regardless of which team holds your heart, there is something we can all agree on: sports connect people emotionally. Brands linked to sports have a longer reach. T-shirts (with Comfort Colors, it always comes back to t-shirts) related to sports teams make up a staggering portion of industry sales. How did this happen? When did sports become such a marketing powerhouse?

This short timeline might shed some light:

August 1858 – First paid admission required for a game (baseball)

1870s – Tobacco cards featuring baseball players are popular

March 1923 – First endorsement deal (golf)

September 1925 – First Goodyear blimp flyover

June 1928 – Coke sponsors the Olympic Games

August 1939 – First televised Major Baseball League game

August 1939 – First televised college game (football)

October 1939 – First televised NFL game

1976 – Millions spent on Montreal Olympics

September 1979 – ESPN debuts

1984 – Hundreds of millions spent on Los Angeles Olympics

1990 – The dawn of high school sports marketing

2008 – Adidas pays Russian pole-vaulter Yelena Isenbyeva $2.5 million a year

2012 – £24billion spent on London Olympics

The National Sporting Goods Association tells us that “Adult Americans spent more than $8 billion on sports logo apparel in 2009.” (http://www.nsga.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=4315) You can see where this is going. But this morning, Red Sox fans will tell you it’s only about love.

Timeline Sources: http://www.timetoast.com, http://smedio.com

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5 Tips to Help You Keep Your Shirt in the T-shirt Business

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s easy to lose your shirt in the t-shirt business. You need good quality shirts from a dependable supplier, you need a great design, you’ll probably need more great designs after the first one, you need a business plan, you need a reliable method of reproduction, you need space to do your work, you need capital, and most of all you need a willing audience.

If one of these pieces is missing from the program, whammy, there goes the shirt off your back. These five tips might just help you keep your shirt on.

5. Learn from the Best – There is a ton of information out there. Learn how to discern the wheat from the chaff. Our friends at Printwear Magazine and Stitches Magazine provide a wealth of information about the apparel industry. The are definitely the wheat. Whole wheat, even.

4. Be Tasteful – No this is not your grandmother writing. But you must think about the effect your message will have on your audience. And be cognizant of your timing. Here’s a great example of a misplaced message: Red Sox and Yankees fans put the fan in the word fanatical. In the 1978 World Series, the Yankees beat the Red Sox by such a huge margin, it became known as the “Boston Massacre.” It’s a great a monicker for a big Yankees win…except the week after the Boston Marathon shootings.

3. Get to know the Copyright Laws – Sure imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, but the law is the law. Don’t break it. It could cost you dearly.

shirtless12. Do what You Love – No this is not Oprah, or some new age magazine. If you’re going to be cranking out T-shirts 40, 50, and 80 hours a week, it better be something you like doing. Take a look at our founder, Barry Chouinard. He loves bowling and chemistry. He studied chemistry – even specialized in chemical color in college and soon thereafter became a chemical colorist in high demand. What started with beakers and test tubes blossomed into a major clothing company. Do what you love…Boy is his wife glad he did not pursue bowling!

And now, the Number One way to keep your shirt in the T-shirt business!

1. Use the Very Best T-shirts – You knew this was coming! The best t-shirt have the greatest longevity and are the most comfortable. For us, the choice is obvious. We hope it is for you, too.

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Entrepreneurs and the T-shirt Business

Vermont is well known for its entrepreneurial spirit. You can’t swing a cat without hitting a cottage industry here. Many Vermont companies that started in the garage or at Mom’s dining room table have become household words: Ben & Jerry’s, Cabot Cheddar, Burton Snowboards (and of course,  Comfort Colors ).

KFC in Asia

T-shirts are a huge part of that picture here in Vermont. A Google search for “Vermont T-shirt Company” produces more than 2 million results; “Vermont Screen-Printing Company” produces even more. Every restaurant, tourist destination, event, cause, and organization has a T-shirt commemorating its awesomeness. For some of Vermont’s entrepreneurs, the t-shirt is the business (Eat More Kale and Keep Vermont Weird are great examples).

Vermont is proud of its entrepreneurial spirit…We may even be a little arrogant about it. But next week is Colonel Sanders’ birthday (September 9, 1890), so we thought we’d cool our heels and give props to that legend among entrepreneurs, Colonel Harland Sanders. He was a sixth-grade dropout, an army mule-tender, a locomotive fireman, an insurance salesman, a political candidate, a service station operator, and an all around good guy. (The Colonel reminds us a little of our own boss – entrepreneurial and avuncular.)

In his 40s, at the service station, Sanders cooked meals for hungry travelers. He served what he called the “home meal replacement” at his modest dining table. He called it, “Sunday Dinner, Seven Days a Week.” His food became so popular that he had to move into a bigger dining area and the rest is history. (http://colonelsanders.com/) It’s a great American success story.

Tell us yours! Send us the story of how you got started in the T-shirt business and we’ll publish it here.

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Typos and T-shirts

WhoopsTypos and T-shirts do not mix. They can be funny after the fact, but costly when you’re in the thick of it.

Typos have been around as long as typography. There have even been notorious typos in various version of the Bible. The “Printers Bible” reads “Printers have persecuted me without a cause” instead of “Princes have persecuted me without a cause.” The “Sinner’s Bible” reads “Thou shalt commit adultery” instead of “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Ouch.

A common T-shirt typo is the use of “your” instead of “you’re” (as in the contraction of you are – “Your the greatest.” It’s hard to Sore with Eagles when you fly with turkeys. That’s gotta hurt.

Typos are everywhere, some people even collect them. But by the time you get to printing t-shirts, your design should have already passed the scrutiny of the grammar police. Do check again. You can never be too sure.

We combined some tips from New York Times writer, Philip B. Corbett, and Grammar Girl to help you  keep typos at bay:

  • Have someone else read your work. The best way to find typos is to have someone else read your work.
  • Read the copy out loud. Read it silently, one word at a time. Read it backward and focus on the spelling of words.
  • Beware of contractions and apostrophes: their and they’re, its and it’s, your and you’re.
  • Double-check proper names.
  • Double-check little words that are often interchanged: or, of; it, is.
  • Print your work in a different font with different margins.

Do you have any typo stories to share? Send them to us; we promise not to reveal your identity. Just remember: every time you make a typo, the errorists win.

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Punny Marketing and T-shirt Design

First there was K-Mart’s “Ship My Pants” then there was Ben and Jerry’s “Shirt Happens” (the name of the ice cream giant’s t-shirt design competition). Fun puns, no doubt. But some people did not love them. The organization, One Million Moms (OMM), for example, was not amused by K-Mart and started a social media campaign against it. The Vermont ice cream shirt pun is not likely to draw that kind of opposition.

The news is filled with stories about ads and t-shirt slogans that made people angry, got kids kicked out of school, got travelers kicked off airplanes. The new “husband beater” t-shirt has caused quite a stir (Please, people. Let’s just call them tank tops.). Even Nike’s popular Boston Massacre t-shirt (the shirts refer, of course, to the Yankees – Red Sox rivalry) was pulled off the shelves in the days immediately following the explosions at the Boston Marathon.

As a business owner, do you ever advocate for the softer side of sarcasm? Do you ever try to discourage a potentially injurious or just plane tasteless t-shirt design? If you do, we’d love to hear your stories about some of the subtle ways you help your colleagues and customers make the right choices about what they print. Edgy is all fun and games until it backfires.

In the meantime, we will stick with good, clean puns. Comfort Colors reminds you that irony is the opposite of wrinkly. And a good pun is it’s own reword.

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Temperatures Rise and Tanks Roll In

CC TanksThe Tanks are coming…Fish tanks, Sherman tanks, scuba tanks, think tanks, oil tanks, even septic tanks are not the harbingers of warm weather and sunshine. Instead, we are talking about colorful cotton tanks – tank tops, the kind you wear to show off your guns or cool your jets.

Wikipedia says that the name “tank top”, part of American English since 1968, derives from the shirt’s resemblance to a tank suit, a one-piece women’s swimming costume with shoulder straps, so called since the 1920s, because it was worn in a “swimming tank”, an obsolete term for a swimming pool.

The tank top seems to be a completely American idiom. In the Queen’s English, a tank top is called a vest. Boys of a certain age wore string vests – sort of a fishnet version of the tank top. They tucked their vests into their pants (aka underwear, undies, briefs, BVDs, but that is an entirely different story).

Another t-shirt/tank top term, used in Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Nigeria and New Zealand, is singlet (in French this might be a singulet?). In the Philippines, when used as an undershirt, the tank top is called a sando. We are guessing that when your wear your sando at the beach sans a coverup, it might simply be called ‘tank top’ or even just ‘Awesome’.

Bing’s translator says tank top is tapa del tanque in Spanish, but translates “singlet” as “camiseta”. This is what we should probably call Kevin Camisa’s  (aka Mr. Shirt)  kids.

We could not quite figure out the French for tank top: un dessus de réservoir literally means the top of tank, débardeur means docker (but some online reverse translators say this means tank top). “Tanktop” without a space is the same in English and French. German is ein Trägershirt – this seems closer because it has ‘shirt’ in it, but the translator on my computer defines ein Trägershirt as “a carrier herdsman.” Maybe the tank top is the preferred fashion statement of carrier herdmen? A Google search of carrier herdsman produces images of t-shirts. Who knew?!

In American English, a tank top refers to a sleeveless shirt. Something we enjoy wearing in seasonably warm weather.

Are you fluent in a language that has fun with summer clothing? Let us know how you say tank top in your favorite language!

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When is it Safe to go Outdoors – in Just a T-shirt?

How soon in the year do you go outside in just a t-shirt? How warm does it have to be? The answer to this question will vary depending on where you live.

cold weather memeHere in Vermont, some T-shirt lovers do what the locals call hardening off. When you’re gardening, hardening off refers to bringing your little seedlings outdoors for a cool breeze or two before you plant them out there. When you are waiting to don your favorite apparel (a comfortable t-shirt) sans accoutrement (down jackets, wool sweaters), hardening off means going out there and getting goose bumps.

Wikihow.com gives instructions. I’ll paraphrase:

  1. Get a t-shirt and a thermometer
  2. Figure out what temperature you consider to be cold
  3. Get used to it – go out there and walk around in your t-shirt for 10 minutes
  4. Practice – go back out there
  5. Keep moving
  6. Wear an undershirt under your t-shirt, if you must “This will give you an added layer of warmth, whilst not impeding your ‘T-Shirt Only’ look. Make sure the under-layer is of a color similar to either your shirt or your skin, as otherwise it may be visible through the shirt.”

When is it warm enough for you or your customers to get out there in just a T?

I have a long-sleeved shirt under my Comfort Colors T-shirt as I write this post…The forecast for New England the rest of April includes some chilly temps and even a winter weather advisory or two…May we also suggest a hoodie?

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