8 Things To Look For When Buying Indie Clothing Online

How comfortable are you buying clothing online? If your like most people the idea of buying clothing online can be a bit frightening, after all the best way to see if you like a item of clothing is to try it on, which is a bit hard to do online! But not to fear, IAMTHETREND is here to show you what you should be looking for when you purchase that next tee online!

1. The Website

The first thing that I look at when purchasing clothes online is the website. I view a companies website much like I would view a bricks and mortar store. Does the website/store look professional, inviting and safe? This is especially true for indie clothing companies. With an indie clothing line you do not have that built in trust that you would of course have say if you were shopping online at UrbanOutfitters.com. There is really no fool proof method for establishing if a website is credible or trustworthy, but the best rule of thumb is to ask around! Send out a twitter or facebook post asking if anyone has shopped there chances are there is someone out there that can recommend or discourage you from shopping at a site.

I also use the rule if it looks shady it probably is! Most reputable online clothing companies spend money on their site to make their product appealing and make you feel good about shopping there. If you dont have that immediate “good feeling” move along.

2. Shirt Quality

Shopping online can also be tough because you can not physically feel how soft or comfortable a shirt is. The best way to combat this is to only buy shirts from websites that tell you exactly what kind of shirt they are using for printing. Most indie clothing companies do a great job letting you know what type of t-shirt they use, after all this shouldn’t be a secret. Every t-shirt brand fits a bit different and if you are unfamiliar with how a particular brand feels or wears, a simple google search for that brand will reveal a wealth of information about the specifics of that brand.

Some of my favorite T-brands: American Apparel, Alternative Apparel, Alstyle, Anvil 980 Tees

3. Mock Ups

Mock ups are quite simply how a clothing company shows off their product. I break Mock Ups into 3 categories unrealistic/cartoon mocks, photo-realistic and actual photographs.

Unrealistic/Cartoon mocks are quite simply horrible and I will never buy a tee from a company that uses them. Basically the company uses a cartoon version of a shirt and puts their design on it. To me this screams that the company doesn’t care how their product is presented and more importantly they may not have the tee they are showing you, after all if they did why wouldn’t they take a picture of it.

Photo-realistic mocks use a t-shirt template with an actual photo of a t-shirt. Most of the time these mocks are so good that you cant tell that it isn’t an actual picture of the shirt itself. This is a much better way for a company to present their product. Usually the lighting is perfect and it gives you a good idea of how your tee will look. Although you need to be a bit wary on this as well, because this is not an actual picture of your shirt, but just a mock up of the shirt.

Photographs of the shirt are the absolute best way to present a product. As a buyer I can see that the company actually has the item they are selling. This is also the best way to see how the t-shirt will look in a real life setting. If a company is using actual photographs of their tee I am a lot more comfortable and inclined to buy a t-shirt from that company.

4. Price/Deals

One of the best parts of shopping online and finding upcoming clothing brands is that the price of their clothing is often cheaper than what you can find in a store. Brands such as Threadless, Fullbleed, Electric Zombie, Mumford and many more sell their tees for under $20! The sweet spot for me when buying a tee online is anywhere from $16-$24. Many clothing lines also offer coupon codes and have frequent sales sometimes as much as 50% or more! To keep up to date on these sales sign up for a clothing companies email list or tune in to IAMTHETREND TV every Monday night as we go over what sales are going on!

5. Shipping Cost

While a shirt for only $16 sounds like a great deal, there is nothing worse than putting in your zip code to find out that shipping is an additional $10! Theoretically there is nothing that you can do to combat shipping prices but as mentioned above sign up company mailing lists this is the best way to know when a company is having a sale or offering free shipping. Shipping should usually never cost more than 25% of what the price of the shirt.

6. Delivery Time

The delivery time of your clothing is a detail that is sometimes very easy to overlook! Make sure when you make your purchase that in the description it doesn’t say that the item is a presale or on backorder. There is nothing wrong with buying a tee on presale, but just make sure you are willing to wait the alloted time before you receive your item. Typical delivery time usually takes 3-5 business days, if you don’t hear or receive anything from the company in that time frame make sure to contact their customer service. Most reputable online clothing companies give you a guideline on when to expect your package a head of purchase.

7. Printing Quality

Printing quality may be one of the single most important yet difficult factors to assess when purchasing online. Let me tell you there is nothing worse than receiving your tee in the mail and you pull it out of the package and the design feels like a huge plastic piece welded to your tee! So how do you protect yourself? Look to see if the company lists what type of inks they use when printing. Water based and discharge inks are extremely comfortable and usually you can not feel the print at all. Plastisol based inks are a tricky beast depending on where a company got their shirts printed. Some screen printers have the process down to an art form and others do not. There really is no way to know until it’s to late. Once again ask friends if they have had any experiences with that company or you can always tune into IAMTHETREND TV, where we review tees that are sent in from various indie clothing brands.

8. Return Policy

Always check to see what the return policy on a item is. If a company has a solid no hassle return policy you can always rest assured that no matter what happens you can get your money back. All indie clothing brands should offer you a return policy, if they do not I highly suggest you spend your money elsewhere!

In closing buying clothing online can be an incredible experience and it can also be a horrible experience. Just follow these simple guidelines and we promise your next online purchase will go as smooth as possible!

If you enjoyed this article please take a second to either TWEET or FACEBOOK SHARE it with your friends and followers!


  • Pingback: Tweets that mention 8 Things To Look For When Buying Indie Clothing Online | I Am The Trend -- Topsy.com()

  • Adam, this is such a helpful post! Pretty much a check list for us before we finally get our re-launch going. Thanks so much! Cheers

  • Not a problem! Glad you enjoyed the post! When do you launch?

  • Hi Adam! Great article. Thanks so much

  • We'll be launching the new site, new logo, new shirts on June/6/2010, so we're stoked! Thanks for asking, really like what you're doing with this site!

  • Good post Adam, I never really think about these issues, but then again I don't really approach this stuff as a consumer!

  • Thanks Andy! Glad you liked the post, hope everything is going well for you bro!

  • JMI

    plastisol inks can feel and look a lot like water based inks depending on the mesh used and if there is a soft hand additive put in the ink. maybe consider what mesh/es were used during the printing process if they DID use plastisol.

  • Being a indie clothing brand, I was going through this list and checking off what I do and don't do. I have heard it numerous time before that I should have real models in my pics as opposed to mock-ups. Now, I will no longer hesitate to do it. If it's on iamthetrend.com then it must be valuable info. Also, I didn't realize how important the return policy was for the customer in writing. I am going to add that right now since I failed to have one up before. Thanks for the great article Adam.

  • Hey John! Glad you dug the article! By no means is my word gospel, this is honestly just the feeling that I get when i talk to customers and also make my own observations between different clothing lines. Hope all the advice helps dude! Definitely keep me in the loop when it comes to new releases! all the best!
    adam

  • Imageshirts

    Being a indie clothing brand, I was going through this list and checking off what I do and don't do.

  • glad you dug the article and got some good info out of it!

  • glad you dug the article and got some good info out of it!

  • Pingback: KENNETH()

  • Robdobi

    thanks for the plug adam!

  • All very good points, especially the one about product photos. I’ll pretty much never buy a shirt from a line who doesn’t have real photos unless its from a brand I’ve bought from before and they’re doing a pre-sale.

    If anyone’s looking for a photographer I highly recommend Adam from Focused In Photography(http://www.focusedinphotography.net), he recently did shots for our new line and they turned out amazing.

  • Committed2011

    Thanks a lot Great info I’m starting a T-shirt line, can you recommend any printers????

  • Absolutely! I actually work for Threadbird.com and can be your sales rep! Hit me up! adam at threadbird.com