Play-by-Play: How design decisions make our merch more sustainableby Jamie Concannon
Here's an inside look at how we design and ship our custom-made sustainable merch all over the world.
The conversation around sustainability - from how we travel, to what we eat, to how we do business - is growing all the time. This is positive but it's also highly urgent. Our landlord, the planet, has been trying to tell us for years: we need to reduce our carbon emissions or the landlord will find a way to evict us. Still, talking about sustainability and actually taking sustainable action is quite different.
Stock footage of windmills and solar panels in slickly edited promo videos look nice and all, but companies that prioritize sustainable company should be able to show you how their processes are sustainable. They should be able to show positive changes that they are making designed to make their output more sustainable. For that to happen, it's important for commerce to embrace transparency around their processes.
We want our customers to feel as if they can trace every step of our process, from the very first point of contact right through to the delivery of merch and the feedback we receive from people who have worked with us in the past. The first of these play-by-play articles was all about our manufacturing process, which you can check out for yourself right here.
How our design process works
When it comes to merch, there was a time when it was more like a quick and easy solution for brands looking to get as many eyes onto their logo as humanly possible. It was a limited scope but it meant that what was produced had limited function, plenty of it ended up in the trash, most of it was made to trashy standards with zero thought given to the impact the production of tat would have on environment.
As part of our approach to changing what swag is, we have chosen to put thought into our design process. From the fabrics that we use right down to the designs we put on the items themselves, we know that what we're making is less harmful to the environment and, in turn, that burnishes your brand as well.
The first decision we made in relation to how we design our merch, is that we do not have a warehouse packed full of generic items waiting for a particular colour or a logo slapped onto the front. We work with our customers to not only make something that is totally unique to their brand, but also of the highest quality that people actually want to keep long after having received it.
Taking clothing as an example, our design team will liaise with the customer to get a general idea of what they are looking for. Between any ideas they have and our experience and knowledge in the world of helping brands of all shapes and sizes create custom swag, we'll map out something that is both exactly what they had in mind and totally unique to them.
Everything is bespoke, nothing is applied to an existing template. But that means our processes all along the way have to be smart.
Instead of just asking our customers to chose a colour from a catalogue, we tailor the design to exactly match your requirements. Once we have your brand's colour guidelines, we make it to match. Once that colour is matched, we go about finding the exact yarn to go with it. We use recycled acrylic to make this yarn, and start making a sample for the client to make sure that the finished product will be everything they were hoping for.
The design is created using a pretty cool combination of software and good old fashioned human handiwork, creating something unique and exciting just for your brand. Everything we make is tailor-made, so you can rest assured that any merch you order from us will stand out from anything else that people might have already received.
Once the design is settled upon, we order just enough yarn and dye to make a sample, nothing more than that. The vast majority of our orders get approved straight away, but it's good to have that bit of extra wiggle room. Once our customer has provided feedback on the sample we move onto producing the exact quantity of item required - zero wastage. This process is important to ensure a quality product that the customer is satisfied with, that is also sustainably made.
Speaking of wiggle room, we can mix and match sizes in whatever way you so desire from small to triple XL. So if you need a batch of 100 with 25 each of small, medium, large and extra large or any other combination of sizes, once you let us know your requirements it's exactly as easy for us to make as it would be to make them all the same size.
Once it all gets printed by machines, we get the designs onto the clothing by using specially-made panels that act as templates. The panels used to put the design onto the clothing changes depending on the size, to make sure it is neatly put onto the fabric rather than being repeated indiscriminately across the board.
All of this requires quite a lot of skilled work, with much of it being done by means of hand stitching and the operation of specialist machinery. The fabric we use, as well as the skilled workers who transform it into the clothing our customers need, are sourced in China.
Once the product is made, it's time to deliver it to our clients wherever they may be in the world. Again, we ask our customers to consider slow shipping, which is more sustainable and has the added bonus of being cheaper. It won't be long before the merch you've ordered has reached its grateful recipient.
If you want to find out more about our manufacturing process, click here.
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