One of the questions we get asked most often is: ‘How do I make a best selling tee?’ And, while there’s no exact science behind it, over the years we’ve seen enough best sellers made by creators from a variety of backgrounds to collect some useful pointers (and dispel some common myths). From Dalston icon Mangal II’s ‘Love: Kebabs Hate: Racism’ tee, to illustrator Karlotta Freier’s print-turned-tee or the fundraiser by memelords Real Housewives of Clapton, we’ve collected the lessons learned from some of our most successful campaigns.
Read on and (with a dash of luck and good timing), you can run your own best selling campaign in no time.
Made a great print? Put it on a T-shirt (and vice versa)
If you’re an illustrator used to working on prints, or conversely, a designer who mainly works with garments, working outside your medium can feel unnatural. But, going outside your comfort zone is often the first step to a great campaign. Plus, if you’ve created a successful print, chances are it’ll do great as a T-shirt too. Take cue from illustrator Karlotta Freier, whose best-selling T-shirt started out as a print. With work spanning comics and illustration for the likes of The New Yorker and Times, Freier’s mood-driven pieces have already found an audience, and, as she told The Block recently, she was drawn to illustration because she likes how the drawing “is being used for something, how it’s part of our lives.” So, it made sense to transfer her pieces to the medium of garments.
Not a designer? Not a problem
Have a great idea for a T-shirt campaign but don’t know the first thing about design? You’re not alone: some of our most successful campaigns started with just an idea. Whether you have a designer in mind or looking to be connected to someone from our network of artists, there are lots of options out there. Like activist Ro Mitchell, who collaborated with Goodie Works on a best selling campaign. Creative collaboration is a great way to give your campaign an extra boost, as having another person on board can be a huge help with promotion too.
Consider a fundraiser
Many of our most successful campaigns were created with the goal of raising funds for a charity or initiative. This doesn’t only enable you to support a good cause, but means your tee has a bigger platform (and therefore, able to raise more money), too. Win-win.
Ro Mitchell regularly uses her campaigns to raise money for eating disorder charity Beat, while Real Housewives of Clapton donated 50% of the proceeds to Hackney Food Bank. With a focus on mental health and giving ourselves the space to slow down, Allison Ditzig’s ‘Snails Take Their Time’ tee raised funds for the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network.
Making a best seller doesn’t always have to be a global phenomenon: often the campaigns that do best are tied strongly to a local community. Take Dalston institution Mangal II, the restaurant run by brothers Ferhat and Sertaç Dirik, originally opened by their father in 1982. Their ‘Love: Kebabs Hate: Racism’ tee, inspired by a tweet from Ferhat from several years ago, became a great slogan for the restaurant, as well as a calling card for the community they were building. “It’s important to identify yourself with the right social causes that you fundamentally believe in,” Ferhat recently told The Block. “As we reinvented the restaurant we thought, that’s a good way for people to identify themselves with [us].”
Similarly, the ‘Family’ T-shirt created by the owners of the infamous meme account, Real Housewives Of Clapton features a tongue-in-cheek illustration of the instantly recognisable characters that fill the days of Clapton residents (and the RHOC IG page): Trello olives, Torres crisps, biodynamic wines and an anxious sighthound. “The RHOC Instagram page has an extremely loyal community, for which we’re really grateful” they told us, “so they got behind the t-shirt as soon as we announced it.”
Be inclusive with your sizing
The one thing that almost all of our best sellers have in common? Inclusive sizing. Available in 2XS – 5 XL, both Ro Mitchell and Allison Ditzig’s campaigns catered to a wide range of body shapes and style preferences. Being inclusive with your sizing is not only best industry practice, it also means that you are catering to a wider customer range (meaning more sales). It quite literally pays to be inclusive.