Clothing brand promotion is often overlooked by designers who prefer to stick to the creative side of things instead of marketing, but this can be a big mistake. We understand that designing personalised T-shirts is more fun than a Google Spreadsheet, but if you don’t advertise then how are your potential clients going to know you exist?
The way you present your product online will determine how successful your engagement with potential customers will be – It is your first impression, after all, and you only get one shot at those.
Thankfully, nowadays you don’t need a huge marketing budget to advertise your clothing line. If you know how to use it, the Internet can be a powerful (and affordable) tool to promote your business.
Keep reading, we’ll help you step by step.
Come up with your Brand’s Mythology
Before you start uploading images to Instagram like crazy, stop and take the time to think about the best way to promote your designs. How do you want your garments to be seen? The way you promote them should mirror more than just the brand’s image and style; it should reflect it’s philosophy.
If you take a flick through the look books of successful T-shirt brands, the style and tone of the images go further than just a picture of a T-shirt. They are selling a lifestyle, an image, and if you intend on being successful, you should do so, too.
The best brands and designers have a clear idea of themselves and market directly to their captive audience through promotional images.
Create a ‘Look and Feel’
Shooting images of your custom clothing in the environment that you think represents how they should be worn is a no brainer. Here are a few tips on how to create your brand’s ‘look and feel’:
1 – Ask around
Go up to your family and friends and ask them how they see your clothing brand. What type of environment do they think your garments belong in? What kind of people do they think should wear them? The opinion of a third person might give you a new perspective on your project.
Check this out: If you need any help with the personality of your brand, check out the post we wrote a while ago on brand archetypes.
2 – Do some research
Do you have a target audience? If so then you need to ask yourself where these people hang around. If your label is a bit more corporate, then maybe that place would be an office, but what kind of office? A stylish office? A regular old office? Or Google’s offices?
3 – Shoot
Pictures. I’m talking about pictures. Sometimes there’s just no better feeling than walking around with a camera (or smartphone) looking for inspiration. See a beautiful building? Take a picture of it. Spot an interesting looking bloke? Take another picture. You may be surprised at how inspiration can strike when you’re just walking around.
4 – Gather your materials
By this point, you should have a nice collection of materials to start your process. Put everything together and then start selecting what you want to keep and what you don’t.
5 – Create a Mood Board
A mood board will help you visualise and put on paper the ideas you have in your head. It will also serve for future reference when you’re deep in the production process. There used to be a time when designers did this by hand (and some still do) but nowadays there are online sources like Pinterest and Designspiration that allow you to get creative without getting your hands dirty.
Check this out: A mood board should represent the general feel of your brand. Your inspirations should be there. If you’ve never created a mood board before, here’s our practical guide on how to get started.
Up-and-coming, British designer Nicholas Daley features a prominent mood board on his home page. For his latest collection, he was clearly inspired by the field and its workers. It is worth mentioning that the mood board does not only alludes to colours and shapes but also textures which can be used later when manufacturing the garments.
Clearly, one of the biggest of decisions in the process of promoting your T-shirts is how to do it. Just like the ‘look and feel’ you carefully crafted, the medium you choose to showcase your products in will affect how the masses receive your message.
Tattoos or no tattoos? Muscular or skinny? Blonde or brunette? These are questions you need to ask yourself before you start the selection process so don’t be afraid to go all Simon Cowell on your modelling hopefuls. After all, it’s your brand. Dave may always be offering but he probably isn’t the best choice for promoting your brand. It might be a process, but finding the right model may not be as hard as you think.
Check this out: For more resources on how to hire and work with models read ‘How to hire the best model for your brand’ and ‘How to shoot a model (with a camera) to promote your brand.’
There are online platforms like Model Mayhem that offer a catalogue of international models that may work for little or no money as long as they’re compensated in another way. You might allow them to use the pictures for their portfolio or give them free garments in exchange for their work (just don’t expect to hire Cara Delevingne this way).
London-based designer Charli Cohen used her knowledge in personal training to launch her own luxury sportswear label. If you notice, the backgrounds on these pictures are barely existent; they’re kept simple to echo the minimal design on the garments.
Just keep livin’
A different look is what wholesome Matthew McConaughey’s clothing line Just Keep Livin’ was looking to achieve. His long-haired models were shot in the American wilderness with axes and other rugged, manly things. This is clearly the image that the brand wants to be associated with and it fits perfectly with the style of the T-shirts.
The Zanerobe collection shows a much more laid back approach with some of the images even looking a little blurry. They have chosen to keep the tone and image really informal which is in line with their brand as a whole. The photographs of the barefoot models skateboarding and drinking Corona look like they were taken of an informal street gathering and not for promotional purposes at all, or maybe they were, we just don’t know.
Let the T-shirt do the Talking
If all that sounds like too much to handle then maybe the best option for you is to keep things simple. Often times less is more and, when done well, minimalism can be the epitome of elegance. Sometimes it is better to just let the T-shirts do the talking and present them in the most simple, but effective way. This could by laying the garment out on a table or showcasing it on a hanger.
The T-shirts of this whimsical brand are laid out in front of a white background with equal gaps between each garment. To top it off, the clothes are laid at a slight angle to make it more dynamic.
By rolling up the sleeves on their T-shirt designs, this clothing line maintained the tactile quality and gave them a personal look. The hangers bring the aesthetic of a retail shop to the website, which has a familiar quality and provides a different look to most other stores.
Shoot a Promotional Video
A picture can speak a thousand words, but many pictures will help you sell T-shirts. Putting together a promotional video may seem a little out of reach for small brands, but with the technology currently at your disposal and a little bit of creativity, there are no limits on what you can achieve.
If you have the budget for it, then contacting a production company would be the best idea, but if you don’t, here are some basic elements you’ll need to create your own promotional video:
Lights. Do not underestimate the importance of lighting. Good lighting can make the difference between a terrific video and an awful one. Luckily there’s no need to spend tonnes on a lighting equipment. This guy uses a $20 IKEA lamp!
HDCamera. You have to do HD. There’s is no way to go around it. It is particularly important for fashion brands to feature clear crisp videos where the real colours and quality of the garment can be appreciated even if it’s being watched on YouTube. Unfortunately, most of your budget will go on the camera. According to this guide, a good camera for video can go anywhere from £300 to £1000. See it as an investment. If you’re serious about your business, then this artefact will not only serve you to shoot promotional videos but also take amazing pictures for catalogues and social media for years to come.
Microphone. You may forgo the microphone if you don’t plan on recording audio yourself, but if it’s the other way around then I highly recommend getting one. The ones that come with the cameras (even the expensive ones) tend to be rubbish.
Editing software. Professionals may prefer Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro, but there are other options out there that won’t burn a hole in your wallet. There is free software like iMovie that might surprise you with the quality finish it can achieve. If you’re uploading the video to Youtube (which you probably will) then YouTube editor is also a great choice.
If you’re looking for inspiration, check out the video done by designer Charles Jeffrey to tease his Spring/Summer 18 collection. This one is more on the weird side but it is a great example of how to use creativity to sell clothes.
Distribute your Content
‘It pays to advertise’ some say. As a new business, resources may be scarce therefore it might be difficult to invest on publicity, but if you want your brand to be seen then it is something that you should definitely consider.
Promote on social media
If you’re new to social media then you may feel like your posts and messages often get lost in the black hole we call the cyberspace — and you may not be that off. Tweets have an average life of 20 minutes, while Facebook posts last for about three hours. After this time goes by, and unless the post goes viral, messages get lost forever. The only way to counteract this effect is to pay for some promotion.
Ads on social media let you reach a wider audience, while at the same time target a specific demographic. If you want to get more likes, more views and potential customers then this is the way to go.
Check this out: For more information on how to promote your brand on social media check out our ‘50 social media tips to help you promote your new brand’ infographic.
Contact third party members
If social media is not your thing, then it might be a good idea to approach a more traditional type of promotion like advertising on someone else’s website. Some of the benefits of announcing your business on a third person platform are:
- Reaching a wider audience
- Being related to the website’s attributes (if they’re known for featuring good quality products, for example)
- Showing up more often on Google searches (they’ll give you a backlink which is good for SEO)
- Targeting a niche market
Websites like TEEHUNTER let you advertise your business for a price. Subscribing to this service will allow you to be published on a platform where some of the best T-shirt designers in the world hang out.
Get in touch with an influencer
We’ve talked about the power of influencers several times here at the Printsome Blog and the reason we keep doing it is because it works! Consumers are more connected than ever.
Once you’ve identified them, it’s time to get in touch. A good old fashioned email should do it (they usually have a business address), but if you don’t get a reply or can’t get your hands on an email, social media is also a good way to go about it.
Take the time to draw up a well-written message (you don’t want to miss a big opportunity because of a typo):
It needs to explain your brand, why you’re contacting them and what you’d expect from a future collaboration. Don’t send anything too long or you’ll run the risk of boring the reader – and have them click away halfway through.
Take the time to draw up a well-written message. It needs to explain your brand, why you’re contacting them and what you’d expect from a future collaboration. Don’t send anything too long or you’ll run the risk of boring the reader – and have them click away halfway through.
Most of the times, influencers will ask for money right away but other exchanges might also be possible depending on the situation.
Beauty YouTubers often release ‘look book’ videos where they showcase items from different brands. In this example, Marla Catherine shows off her outfit proposals for summer 2017.
Some of the things you may ask an influencer are:
- To give a talk at an event
- To exchange free products for reviews
- To wear your product (and upload pictures to social media, of course)
- To give you a shout out in a social network
Don’t take it personally if you don’t get a response right away – or ever. These people are constantly being pestered with solicitudes. Keep your hopes up and switch your attention to that second person on the list.
Chances are there is an influencer out there with the target you’re looking for that will open your email. But, as I often say, you can always hire a professional. If you have the cash to spare, tools like Maker Studios offer to match brands with the most appropriate content creator.
Don’t forget to check out our ‘How to Promote your Clothing Brand’ infographic where you’ll find all of this information (and more) synthesised into a cool graphic.
T-shirt Printing for Fashion Designers
Thanks to our five years of experience in the apparel-printing industry, we are able to offer a service catered towards the needs of fashion designers and creative directors. Printsome’s T-shirt printin services are perfect for streetwear collections, T-shirt lines and merchandise, among many other possibilities.
From the moment you get in touch, one of our printing experts in either London or Glasgow will answer all of your questions and find efficient solutions to your needs. It is our mission to help you reach your goals.
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