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How to Combat Rising Prices in 2019 and Elevate the Quality of Your Screen Prints!

With all the recent happenings globally, prices are rising higher than their usual annual jump. But there is some hope! We have many options for you to help continue to be cost-effective in how you set up your orders. Whether you’re looking to give items away as a marketing tool or looking to outfit your merchandise store to sell to the public we’re here to help!

There are many fun and exciting ways to brand your apparel than just the normal screen print. We’re going to outline some creative methods to achieve nicer looking products without breaking the bank and remain cost-effective for your business.

Selecting Your Base Garment

While cost is always on our minds there are factors we don’t necessarily weigh into consideration. One of these is “cost per impression”, whether you’re giving shirts away or selling them in a retail outlet, the base garment you start with is something that will set the tone for imprinting. Cheaper garments are great for one-time use events or giveaways when you are very budget conscious. These are not shirts that people want to re-wear often so if you spend $5-7 for a shirt that is only worn once your cost per impression is very high. If you opt for a higher quality premium garment the comfier shirt does bring your cost up compared to a lower end garment. However, the benefit of this is whoever is receiving this garment will wear it more often and not just once. If you spend $9-12 for a higher quality shirt that someone now wants to re-wear 5-10+ times the cost per impression drops drastically. Chances are in all of your closets you have a favorite T-Shirt or Hoodie that you have washed and worn countless times. Think of your branding in terms of that, your logo on someone’s favorite shirt being worn over and over again. This helps make more use of your budget in advertising. When ordering promo products, you choose items that people will reuse and keep around longer so it only makes sense to translate this mentality into the garments you are using.

Being Strategic with Your Art

When starting to imprint items its best to look at the art you want to imprint. You can effectively get your brand across with only a few colors. The more colors used results in higher setup costs making it harder for you to have a healthy margin. By understanding the best art to use from the beginning you can additionally save money in your graphic design costs. You can use halftones in your art to give your garment the look of more colors. Certain textures used to give depth might also not translate as well in screen-printing. When looking at art to be imprinted you need to make sure there will be enough space for the ink to set so sometimes thinner lines won’t always work. When lines are too thin the ink will sometime bleed over creating a filled in look which loses the quality of your art and does not look good at all.

Program Pricing

The first recommendation is to look at the items you have made annually. If there is something that you order frequently a print program might be a good fit for you. Establishing program pricing based on the annual quantity of the item could help bring your cost down. Simply increasing the quantity on each order to hit a higher price tier might help as well, but if you find yourself doing 1,000-5,000+ annually of a specific item, like a t-shirt, you might want to see about entering into a program where through the year the imprint is priced at the annual quantity rather than the smaller run quantities. Committing to 2,400 shirts annually and still keeping the monthly reorders of 200 shirts could help since the imprint price would be fixed at the 2,400 price rather than the 200.

Total Imprint Quantity

Whether you’re a new business starting out or someone looking to add variety there is a creative way to save money on pricing. Since pricing is based on total imprints there is a quick easy way to beef up the quantity on imprint by ordering multiple different items which also spreads the set-up cost across more garments. Keeping the same imprint across 3 different garments for this case a unisex t-shirt, tank top, and hoodie will beef your total imprint total and result in a lower cost. Instead of 3 separate orders with a left chest logo, you could order 92 of each item resulting in 276 times that logo will be imprinted. If you are looking for a quick easy way to regain some margin this is one of the best ways! Keep in mind this only works if the art stays the same size.

Grouping Imprint

  • 2 Set-Ups
  • 276 Imprint Price Tier
  • 92 T-Shirts
  • 92 Tanks
  • 92 Hoodies

Separate Orders

  • Shirt
  • 2 Set-Ups
  • 92 Imprint Price Tier


  • 2 Set-Ups
  • 92 Imprint Price Tier

Color Changes

In addition to total imprint quantity if the art remains the same, you can pay a small color change fee to change the imprint color. This means you do not need to pay to have set-ups for another garment and you can change the color of the imprint to bring in different items. This works great if you have different departments, local sports team, or just looking for variety in your items! Taking the same art and doing different colorways is an easy way to take advantage of creative ordering and reducing the set-up costs bringing your total cost per garment down. This allows for more margin on your end or some extra money to do another fun product!

Color Change

  • Black + White T-Shirt
  • 2 Set-Ups
  • 1 Color Change Fee
  • 144 Imprint Price Tier

Separate Orders

  • Black T-Shirt
  • 2 Set-Ups
  • 72 Imprint Price Tier

White T-Shirt

  • 2 Set-Ups
  • 72 Imprint Price Tier

Soft Hand Imprint

Soft hand imprinting is a newer style of screen printing which has become more popular as time goes on. This is a similar style of imprinting but is done by reducing the amount of ink being used. When finished this has a much softer feel still with a clean clear look. This helps elevate the perceived value on the products you are producing. While this method does not cost much different the finished product feels better than a traditional screen print in most cases. If you are looking for help with your margin this small difference could help justify charging a little more per item helping you keep your margins healthy amidst rising prices in the industry.

Push-Through Effect

A fun innovative alternative to traditional T-Shirt decoration is reverse screen printing. This method is achieved by printing the design on the inside of the T-Shirt and pushing the ink deep into the garment. This results in a lived-in soft feel of the logo from the other side. It also allows you to get a textured feel because the ink will set in the highs and lows of the fabric which helps give you a lived-in faded look.

No Base Imprint (2+ Hits)

When screen printing a base is similar to a primer layer you paint on your wall before the color you actually want. This helps make your PMS color correct while printing on colored garments. If we take the base away and run the printing it would come out similarly to painting color on the wall with no base. The previous color (in our case the color of the shirt) will bleed through and with no base, it will not be as clean. This leaves us with a rustic or vintage lived-in feel. Those old concert T-shirts collecting dust in your closet that came back in 2018 with that worn-in feel is similar to what the outcome of this would be. The cost-benefit for you on this is a reduction in screens used which brings your cost down per shirt.

Garment Extras

If you are looking to make some extra margin and charge a little more for your garments there are some cost-effective extras you can do such as inside tag printing or woven labels. Bulk buying woven labels and apply them on different orders will help make your product stand out and justify charging a little bit extra! Changing the inside tag to your logo will also create a much higher perceived value on your products. The set-up and run cost for inside tag printing, when combined with the Total Imprint Quantity method above, can really help as a cost-effective way to create high-value products at a lower cost.


When garments are delivered, they are usually folded but there are other ways to have your garments delivered. Many clients, upon receiving garments, go through and
re-package or tag them with sizing stickers. This costs valuable time from you and your employees. A small charge when ordering 144 shirts to have them come pre-tagged could save you more than it costs your employees hourly to sit there. When looking at the total picture this could be an effective way to save your business money.

With so much going on in the world it’s hard to know what is going to happen next. We choose to be preventative rather than reactive and try and prepare for this ahead of time. Through a simple shift in how you do your orders can make sure you’re able to keep your margins healthy by getting creative and bringing your costs down in these ways. If you feel that your business could benefit from any of these or would like to set up some time to talk to see what other possibilities are out there for your business, please reach out and we would be happy to help!

Contact Noah Salvi

Senior Sales Manager
M: 408.340.3196