You have spent months working with your artists and designers getting your vision exactly how you want it on a t-shirt. You are all set and about to place your first t-shirt order with your screen printer (hopefully Threadbird 😉 ) and then it hits you. What size tees should I order?! I can say from experience there is really nothing worse than losing a potential customer because you do not have their size!
So what size tees should you order?
Unfortunately there is no magic answer, equation or rule to answer this question. Conventional thought is that you should order with a 1-2-2-1 ratio and honestly if you have no clue where to start it is not a bad ratio to follow. A lot of customers will be able or willing to go up a size in a tee and try to shrink it. Weighing everything more towards the middle just makes common sense with the thought that the majority of people fall somewhere in the middle and thus you will be covered most of the time.
There has to be a better way!
Although there is no magic formula and it always seems like you run out of the size you need, knowing your customer base is really the key to getting your tee order right. After several runs and releases of different lines with your company you will and should start to be able to see a pattern of what sizes are selling best. But if this is your first release I recommend trying to stereotype your customers as much as possible. Yes, stereotyping is usually not a good thing, but in this case it could really help you.
Know your customer
Really think about whom your customer is and what type of demographic they fit into. For this I’ll use an a first hand example. I run a company called Pong Deck that makes a game that goes along with Beer Pong. Aside from our Pong Deck game we also sell a few t-shirts. When ordering these tees, I literally took into consideration that most beer pong players, like to drink copious amounts of beer and thus not all of them are in the most fit shape and are a bit larger than the Warped Tour emo crowd. So when placing my order I made sure to heavily weigh my ratio towards XL and 2XL shirts. On the other hand if your demographic is the emo crowd whom love skinny jeans and tight shirts you probably aren’t going to be ordering a ton of XL shirts. I know it can sound mean stereotyping your customers, but you really have to be honest with whom your demographic is, as all your trying to do is meet that demographics needs.
Bottom line, know your target market to the best of your abilities.
Of course there is no perfect solution when ordering sizes, just try and do your best to put yourself in the shoes of your market and if all else fails resort to the 1-2-2-1 method.