How Much Does it Cost to Make A T-Shirt? The Gloves come off!

Let’s face it aside from the design of a t shirt the price of a shirt is going to be the top factor in making a decision to buy a shirt. So how much should a company charge for their shirts, and how much is it costing them to make those shirts?! I personally have felt that up and coming clothing lines should be priced around the $20 range until they can gain customers trust for their products and a strong reputation for themselves. Extras such as custom shirts tags, hang tags and extra packaging should only be bought if you can afford to keep your price down and maybe should be added on down the line as the company grows.

Yesterday the guys over at Dance Party Massacre posted an article about why their garments cost anywhere from $21.95 to $27.95 outlining their process in detail. I thought the article was informative and really got me thinking if my idea of shirts selling for around $20 was a bit too low.

Enter Kyle from Electric Zombie, his shirts range anywhere from $16 to $20 with the majority of his shirts being set at $18. If anyone knows anything about Kyle, he definitely always has something to say and is extremely opinionated in his beliefs. Below is his response to Dance Party Massacre’s breakdown of their costs which was posted earlier on his blog.

So what do you think is a fair price for a tee from an up and coming clothing line? With all this being said people are willing to pay for quality there is no doubt about that, it’s just a tough area when it comes to how much up and coming brands should be charging. I would love to hear any thoughts and comments on the subject! Please leave them in the comments section below!

Click to View Dance Party Massacre’s Original Blog Post

From Kyle from Electric Zombies Blog:

DPM’s 10 reasons they justify ripping you off

I came across an article that was posted on the net last night from fellow horror brand Dance Party Massacre. It basically did a run down of how/what/why they charge you 28 dollars for a t-shirt, that’s right a T-shirt.

I decided to I suppose “argue” back to why it’s absurd

1. SUPER explanation guys of the difference between hanes and american apparel. Here’s the difference. People can’t go into walmart and buy an American Apparel shirt for the price of fruit of the loom. The fact that you are saying that a blank costs $17 is completely ridiculous. Sure if you walk into an American Apparel store, in where are they located again? Oh yea, thats right. In bigger cities, where people throw their money around as much as you do useless facts. They think that $17 bucks is NOTHING for a shirt. But we’re not talking about Hollywood Heads and Snooty New York city people. We’re talking about 13-30 Year olds here. At least that’s my demographic, I’m not sure how many people like to go to parties where dancing and you happen to get massacred to death while you attend it. But, back to the rant at hand. You can tell a kid all you want til your blue in the face that it’s a high end shirt, still kids don’t care. They want cool designs, on a nice fitting shirt for a great price. End of story. I can tell you this, an American Apparel blank doesn’t COST that kids. A blank shirt doesn’t even cost that. Don’t let them tell you any different. While I won’t sit here and tell you how much things cost me, I can tell you this, it’s not 17 bucks, with me selling shirts at 16, wouldn’t let that make me in the negative after his mega list of costs? with that lets get to number 2. (hehehe)

2. Cost of printing and details huh? Lets talk about that.

cost of printing here’s some fun fact for you kids. The cost of shirts per color. I’m not going to say what I pay per color, but I can say this. A shirt should not go up anymore than 50 cents per color. the funny thing is, I’m looking at their marvelous selection of tees, a majority of them are 1-3 colors. I don’t see any crazy let’s say 8 colors I have. which at times I have sold for 5-8 bucks, AMERICAN APPAREL I might add. Please spare us the violin solo for the price per color.

cut out the american apparel tag. Not sure if you’re paying someone for this, but for the first year of business, I cut every single tag out myself. Shit sucks, but if you send any orders over seas, you need all that info, it’s actually against the law to send/sell a shirt to another country without the specs listed and or tagged. Call me a retard, but what’s the point of printing a tag with that info, when you have a perfectly good default tag right there. I know that my customers could care less what’s on the tag. That isn’t what drives my sales. I will say this, like you. If I could afford to put in custom tags, I would, but. The tag doesn’t make the shirt. To me, ultimately it’s a waste of time, if you aren’t huge, or a big timer, I don’t think anyone is going to mind the American Apparel tag they will most likely cut out anyway.

HEAT TAGS! oh boy, lets get onto those, usually you have to buy anywhere from 1,000-5,000 minimum on those at what, maybe 500 bucks? divide that by said numbers you’re looking at 2-10 cents a pop. Maybe you got a sweet deal somewhere, good, great, who cares?

hang tags! a piece of cardstock paper thats been glossed. 5,000 of those cost about 250, shipping shouldn’t be more than 15 bucks. so again… those hang tags would cost you about 19 cents a piece.

You wanna talk “extras”

how about the fact I made custom printed goodie bags, die-cut stickers, regular stickers, buttons, candy, postcards, hang tags at absolutely NO extra cost. you want to know why? because it probably cost me around 1-2 bucks each. I don’t charge anymore for it because it’s something like that that brings your customer back. I mean what’s 2 bucks?

3. Freelancers, Design?
I’m not going to come out here and start talking what my designers charged, but from the sounds of it you’re getting raped. Oh what a huge dent, this huge burden I have called DPM, you act as if this is your nightmare that you are forced to live with this day after day. Without these freelancers realizing your ideas, they would be out of a job and you would be out of a line/product. These guys deserved to be paid how they see fit, you should be happy that these guys even want to work with you, but after this massive weight on your shoulders they have given you, I would be shocked that they would even want to work with you again, smooth buddy, smooth.

4. Wholesale, don’t even get me started on that.
This is a whole other argument, and really makes NO difference to what you charge your customer, not them. Also you state a little later that you do small runs, of maybe 60 shirts. You must not be working with many stores, because if my calculations are correct, you print sm-lrg, thats 20 per shirt. If a store wants to place an order of 3 in each size thats 9 shirts in style. That’s just 1 store. I don’t know about you, but my stores would clear out your 60 shirt run in minutes, perhaps a better business plan?

5. Freeeee shipping!
That’s the only good perk, but after a bad night of horrible gut wrenching sex the least you could do is spoon with them for a couple of minutes after (metaphorically that is)

6. Small Runs
Were not talking about the reaction to ones bowels after they see your prices, were talking about print amount. You are in no means a huge company? How contradicting is it, while you’re preaching about your costs and how much things cost, wouldn’t you be able to do more and more if you actually had satisfied customers? It makes this entire argument or “STATEMENT” from you complete null and invalid. As I said before, maybe you should rethink your business plan, I mean you aren’t Johnny Cupcakes, The Hundreds, or even a respectable street wear brand to EVEN charge the insane amount of money you do. You want more customers, you want to be able to print more? STOP RIPPING PEOPLE OFF!

7.Defect, you mean that knife eye thing isn’t a defect? It’s your logo? Opppssss MYYY BADDD DAWGGGG. Well if the awesome Mammoth Print shop did such a great job with printing, maybe they’re wouldn’t be defects. They should catch these errors and in turn fix them. I’m not saying all of my shirts are perfect. But the things I think are errors for instance like a color not being exact or the registration is off by a MM, those are defects to me. you charge people for a defect, wow, you’re retarded. Donate it, give it to a homeless dude, but when you do, make sure you know they’re getting a steal with your 28 dollar t-shirt you’re so easily tossing away.

8. Failures.
So because your designs suck, you’re taking it out on the customer. Makes no sense. That’s when you put it on sale, SOMETHING. If you end up losing money you are obviously doing something wrong. Actually it’s pretty apparent you are. There’s no need to up a price on everything because you made a mistake by printing such a hideous failure of a design.

9. Advertising/Promos.
Really? never heard of you? The only reason why I have is because Matt Skiff designs for you. Sorry, better jack your shirts up to 40 now. Also, don’t try and shit a shitter and pull the wool over everyone’s eyes. Those things you’re handing out and those ads you’re buying all called WRITE OFFS! Taxable write offs. That means when you pay taxes, thats an amount that comes off what you paid.You should look into that.

10. Brand Integrity.
Wow, after this write up, you lost it. The latest trend? Aren’t you still printing foil shirts? Yikes!

Bonus – Those shows you sell at, is also another form of write off. Every expense to expose those shirts and your brand is a write off.

In the End. It comes off as you’re getting emails or complaints about how “awesome” your brand is but they think that the price point is step. So you wrote this agonizing guilt trip to make people buy into your bullshit to pay more. You aren’t an established brand, neither am I. I’m just a semi successful brand giving kids quality, affordable shirts, with cool free shit on the side. You haven’t built yourself up to even justify a price point like that. Let’s be honest. do you really think you are as good, as better, as KNOWN as brands like Johnny Cupcakes, 410BC, Glamour Kills, to even get that kind of money from any kid? Perhaps you should lower your prices, start cracking down on Mammoth for your defects, and maybe start saving receipts. Maybe you should also take a few steps back and look at the big picture. If you’re doing this to make a living, then sir, you better start filling out forms for food stamps, because you’re doing it allllll wrong. I’m not saying my way is the right way, but I haven’t complained, or heard a complaint EVER about how “expensive” my stuff is.
No one wants to hear your excuses, they just want to see results and if I were you, I would too.

Lastly I’m not saying that Dance Party Massacre is a shitty company, I just think they dont need to come up with bs excuses. Just say, I charge what I want to charge because thats what I want to charge.


  • http://twitter.com/skillafashion Darold Pinnock

    LOL….Talk about “GOING IN & Taking OFF THE GLOVES” Kyle, very strong points and informative points!

  • chrispike

    Great read, I enjoyed it to the fullest extent.

  • http://twitter.com/OMUNKY Rick Waters

    I greatly enjoyed this article. When I am pricing my shirts I look at them through the eyes of the consumer. Since I am a pretty heavy consumer myself, it's not that difficult. Would I buy a one-color shirt with a monkey picking his nose for almost $30? Noooo…

    I also buy strictly eco-friendly material, which is more expensive than regular cotton tees. But why should I make it more expensive to be green?

    Anyways, great article, very informative, very honest, great job!

    OMUNKY

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  • marsipan

    Incredible Read. Although I may have to get my eyes checked after reading DPM's, black text on red back ground.

    DPM's Blog on how they price their shirts was an extremely retarded read. Guilt tripping customers about your woes is definitely not the way to get your customers to come back or even make another purchase. Yes we all know what AA t-shirts cost at the stores but being a former AA Headquarters Employee I can tell you that AA specifically looks for big spending city placement for there stores. Where fashion sits high and nobody questions their total at the completion of their purchase.

    But us T-Shirt entrepreneurs know that blanks range between 2.95 and 4.00. Depending on how much you purchase and what type of relationship you have with them. To even post a blog like that these dudes must be getting emails asking why their shit is priced so high when I can only see that 3 designs needed an 'Oversize' print which would mean shirts would be less on those printed with standard screen sizes.

    Runs of 60 would make for a more expensive shirt as well because of the low quantity being ordered but again. If you are ordering only 60 and having a problem moving them, you should not price shirts higher to try and triple your money back but instead try and sell them for an affordable price and work towards “CREATING A BRAND” like they mentioned in step 10.

    Kyle Crawford, I appreciate your impeccable honesty & response to DPM.

  • http://www.dancepartymassacre.com/ Alex

    If you add in Kyle’s $5 S&H charge ($7 if you order 2 shirts…) our shirts are dollars apart.

    EZ
    $16, $18, and $20
    + $5 = $21, $23, and $25

    DPM
    $22, $25, and $28 with no S&H charge

    COMPARE
    $21, $23, $25
    $22, $25, $28

    That’s all I am gonna say right now.
    Ugh, such drrammmaa.

  • http://www.dancepartymassacre.com/ Alex

    All I'm gonna say right now is if you add in Kyle's $5 S&H charge ($7 if you order 2 shirts…) our shirts are dollars apart.

    EZ
    $16, $18, and $20
    + $5 = $21, $23, and $25

    DPM
    $22, $25, and $28 with no S&H charge

    COMPARE
    $21, $23, $25
    $22, $25, $28

    Whether you think his shirts are better than mine, that's another story.
    Ugh, such drrammmaa.

  • http://www.theelectriczombie.com/ kyle crawford

    lets also compare designs sir…. your simple 1 color designs vs mine.
    not saying your designs are complete shit, but from my standpoint and my opinion. I wouldn't buy it, I don't even wear 80% of my stuff, so don't think that I am “singling you out”

    You basically made excuses for yourself, and you had to explain yourself, why? I don't know why.

    and don't EVEEENNN bring my prices into those. I've sold hoodies that were cut and sew and cost me THOUSANDS for 10 bucks. If someone walked up to you with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (your shirt)
    or a hot fudge sundae (think rugrats ice cream mountain) what would you take?

    for your list of complaints and wanna be rational reasoning for your price for what you get it's not worth it.

    it also makes no sense to sell a shirt for 28 and then a crew neck for 7 more bucks.

    do what you want, say what you want, but make sure it makes sense.
    It's a pile of excuses

  • Shaun

    As much as I could give a fuck less about “horror themed companies” with big spooky zombies and blood everywhere because blood is apparently the new black, this guy does seem like an asshole (Electric Zombie Guy that is) he makes good points. Plus his prices are fair which is definitely cool. As far as “DPM” that shit is a joke. Worst name ever for one thing. Plus the whole “you would pay 17 dollars for an AA shirt at the store” that's a bunch of bullshit . I could order 50 at 5 bucks a pop from any old online wholesaler without a resale i.d. right now.

    The fact that people pay others to design websites, and graphics just blows my mind. If you're in such a creative business then do that shit yourself. What's the point of having a creative outlet if you're not pouring your own creativity in it.

  • Shaun

    As much as I could give a fuck less about “horror themed companies” with big spooky zombies and blood everywhere because blood is apparently the new black, this guy does seem like an asshole (Electric Zombie Guy that is) he makes good points. Plus his prices are fair which is definitely cool. As far as “DPM” that shit is a joke. Worst name ever for one thing. Plus the whole “you would pay 17 dollars for an AA shirt at the store” that's a bunch of bullshit . I could order 50 at 5 bucks a pop from any old online wholesaler without a resale i.d. right now.

    The fact that people pay others to design websites, and graphics just blows my mind. If you're in such a creative business then do that shit yourself. What's the point of having a creative outlet if you're not pouring your own creativity in it.

  • http://twitter.com/davidSEIBEI David SEIBEI

    just to clarify, those cut and sew hoodies you sold for ten dollars are pretty rad – BUT you reduced the price on them to ten dollars when you were down to a handful of X-Smalls, right? Your prices are always super reasonable, but that ten dollar hoodie thing wasn't some everyday occurrence.

    Like I said before, you make a lot of good points, but I really could've done without all the cute little jabs and jokes.

  • http://www.theelectriczombie.com/ kyle crawford

    if you want some too dude we can do this. just because you're a stand up guys, doesnt mean i have to be. you know when you're around your gf's parents and you have to refrain from saying curse words, well you can continue with that mentality and I'll continue to be as completely honest and blunt as I want to be.

    crude or not, it's the truth, don't like it, don't read it. nothing you say is going to change my views or the way I talk or present myself, but let's be completely honest, is it really hurting my business? Doesn't look like it

  • Jimmy

    I COMPLETELY agree with Kyle's points. Dance Party Massacre is a brand that's just starting out. They don't have a following. In my opinion only established brands can get away with those price points.

  • Guest

    Went to a party here in a 'big city' and these two dudes had a small print set up right in the club. They screened one-color designs on AA (I think) and were selling 'em for $40 a pop! They had a line of women dropping mad cash for 'em too. Obviously these club goers were not DPM or EZ's demographic.

  • fletchy

    It's an interesting topic, and after reading the original DPM post, well there was no need to rip them apart. Sure some of it is a bit debatable, but they never said this is how/why we charge $28, so i'd say its been taken out of context, instead they said “maybe this helped some of you people thinking of starting something similar.” and “”give you customers an idea really what goes into a tee you buy”.

    So in that context they are valid costs that eat into the profitability of a clothing line (price reductions to clear unpopular stock costs the apparel industry over $300bn a year). I don't see that this post was an attempt to justify their prices, which I personally wouldn't say are high at $28. What they choose to charge is up to them (as you say at the end Kyle), every customer has a different price sensitivity and so it depends who they are targeting and how well they can position their brand to appeal to that customer. Personally I have no interest in the theming of their shirts, no interest whether they were $10 or $40. Reducing their prices wouldn't help. But I would pay $40 for a t-shirt. The right t-shirt. How much someone is willing to pay for something, has little to nothing to do with what it cost to make it, value is in the eye of the beholder, just ask people that pay $500 for a Louis Vuitton handbag.

  • margatefam

    what's with calling people retarded? that is so off and make you look like a total tool.

  • http://www.seventhfury.com/ Matthew Johnson

    I have to agree with Kyle on this, especially as I'm a new brand as well and I've seen a lot of these situations. There's a lot of cost in starting up a company and getting your ducks in a row with promotional stuff, but you can't take that out on the customer. You have to put a bit of love into the brand to build a following of loyal friends and customers, and by explaining your prices like this to people you might be shooting yourself in the foot.

    Try to do as many of these things as you can yourself, that'll help with the costs. Good luck, I wouldn't wish this kind of press on anyone.

  • http://www.dancepartymassacre.com/ Alex

    Since what was meant to be an informative, helpful article about costs of t-shirt printing has seemed to create more bad than good, I have removed it from our blog. The intent in which it was written is not showing through to some, and for that I apologize. It was not written as a means to justify, or defend, our price tag, but I did use DPM as an example so I can see how it could come across that way.

    How this then became an argument of EZ vs DPM was a surprise. In my opinion, Kyle's post seemed grossly vindictive (plus way dramatic), and it was disheartening to see others back him up. And while he is surely knowledgeable and had points to make, not everything Kyle said is accurate. Things like stating AA shirts cost $17 online was interpreted as us saying we pay $17 to buy a blank. This may just be how it looked to him, but it was very weird to see such things turned around over and over.

    I've learned a good lesson in discrepancy from this, and about being scrutinized on the internet. I'll take into account what people have said and move on. I still stand by Dance Party Massacre as something I am proud of, and I am thankful for the people who enjoy what we're doing.

    You can always shoot me an e-mail at alex(at)dancepartymassacre.com.

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  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/BAQMJDKOR6JVZB2FHPCFG3RSXM Michael

    first time checking this out ,very cool.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/BAQMJDKOR6JVZB2FHPCFG3RSXM Michael

    first time checking this out ,very cool.

  • JESSICA EVANS

    I WANT TO MAKE MY OWN T-SHIRT AND POSTERS SO I CAN RUN FOR STUDENTCONCIL VISE PRESEDENT……..

  • Anfoiw

     Vice*
    Come on

  • Siris

    in Australia $25-30 for a nice shirt is quite reasonable, people will pay for what they want if they feel it is to expensive they wont pay for it, if the guy can sell a shirt for $28 when every one else is only selling them for $20 well i take my hat off to him as people will only pay what they feel fair.

    kyle its funny watching you carry on like a fool instead of explaining your thoughts in a respectable manner, your right might not hurt your business, but it sure will hurt your personal image and i would not give you any respect or time of day when you carry on the way you do.