The modern day question for many entrepreneurs aspiring to enter the clothing industry will usually, if not always asks this question.
Should I choose Print on Demand or Wholesale?
Well from a sportswear brand owner perspective, I believe the question is still subjective to what your situation is. Even though I prefer Wholesale.
Before we determine whether Print on Demand or Wholesale is best. There are many questions you can, and should ask yourself. To save time though, and make sure you aren't spending 30 minutes reading.
I narrowed it down to these three main questions to see which route you may be needing.
Table of Contents
1. Question 1: What sytle of clothing do you use?
2. Question 2: What is your budget?
3. Question 3: How will you be selling your brand?
Now that you know what will be discussed, let's dive into it!
I'm excited to share this with you!
Question 1: What style of clothing do you use?
If you are new to the clothing brand world, maybe you haven't determined this question yet.
If you have been in the clothing brand world for at least a few months, I believe you should at least know or have an idea of this question already.
First things first though. You can use Print on Demand with any style of clothing, but that doesn't mean you necessarily should. Which is the best method and will be most successful is the real question.
I've narrowed it down to seven different type of styles to determine what direction is best to go.
A key point: Some brands mix styles of clothing to stand out, you may or could do the same!
Types of clothing niche styles in the industry | Pick One... or Two
1. Causual Wear
4. Outdoors wear
5. Luxury Apparel
6. Lifestyle Apparel
7. Impact Brand
Below is a simple graph laying out which direction is the most doable to take.
Print on Demand is a method that can see long success with impact brands and streetwear. However; you can get away with Print on Demand in the both category, with Casual wear and Lifestyle Apparel.
What is an Impact Brand?
An impact brand is a clothing brand that creates apparel for a movement, difference, or "impact". Examples of these brands would represent: "Women Empowerment, Save the Ocean, Vote for XXXXXX, Black Lives Matter, ect."
They simply are providing a message to wear to represent what they believe in.
Why is streetwear in the Print on Demand section?
The reason that Streetwear is on Print on Demand is because of the main concept behind streetwear. It has a unique message with a powerful, unique design. Whether that design is the clothes itself with simple lettering, or the design is the printed on the clothes with a simple clothing concept.
The other reason is because as long as you have a solid design, and a powerful message. The shirts itself don't matter too much when it comes to quality, even though quality matters. Streetwear has that flexibility of whats lost in quality, can be made up in design. So therefore, If you have a good enough design or designer, it's all you need!
What does both mean?
Both means that you could be successful in either direction.
- With casual wear. Well, the reason is simple. Print on Demand clothing is typically already casual. So make sure the message is strong.
- However; If you decide just to attach a simple logo to a Print on Demand shirt. You don't really stand out since streetwear brands already can make those shirts stand out a lot more with their unique designs. Going wholesale with casual wear in the beginning is more beneficial because, you can choose your own clothing design and still stand out with simple logos.
Lifestyle Apparel is the same way as casual wear. I would start out as wholesale then once you gain a following and repeat customers. You can then choose to use a Print on Demand Service or a fulfillment service to handle all of the backend.
Why is Sportswear, Outdoors, and Luxury in Wholesale?
The reason: These by far are the hardest to be successful in, if the next question on the list is a low answer.
These styles of clothing have a lower competition compared to the other three because most of the time, they require what most people don't have or are willing to give. Time and Money.
Aside from a higher cost typically. These styles simply just take a lot of time compared to the other three.
The reason they take more time: They need certain fabric, functionality, and the clothing has to stand out in a unique way, not just the design. You have to test each one of these styles of clothes before they even reach your customer (including print on demand). Last but not least, the branding is probably the most costly out of all of it.
Based on starterstory.com, the average cost for an sportswear brand start-up is $28,843
Compared to the average cost of a streetwear brand start-up is $19,815
Which has just over a $10k difference.
Question 2: What is your budget?
Budget for Print on Demand - $0+ (Ideally $250)
This question is certainly needed because if you are going Print on Demand. Ideally, you can start with a budget as low as "$0" However; that is a half-lie.
The reason is because, even if you don't have to actually touch the product physically with print on demand for your customer to obtain it after purchase. You still have to deal with possible website costs, ad costs, and if you are smart with Print on Demand. You will buy a shirt or product from your store before you launch it out to the public to test the shipment.
Budget for Wholesale - $1,000+ (Minimum)
The reason for the Wholesale budget is at least $1,000 is because, if you have at least $1,000. You can find wholesalers that can make shirts for you in minimum quantities as low as 20 pieces of clothing. like Bison Print Co. They make quality blanks for an affordable price with great turn around times.
Obviously, $1,000 doesn't cover just 20 pieces of clothing. So, where does the other costs go?
Well, they go to shipping, packaging, and marketing costs.
Question 3: How will you be selling your brand
There are different methods to selling merchandise online and depending on how you want to be known and gain an audience. Quality and platforms matter.
Depending on what your budget is, it might effect on which route you prioritize to bring traffic towards your store. (Based on ad budget)
1. Amazon Store
3. Facebook Marketplace
4. Facebook/Instagram Store
With Amazon, it is free to create and have a store. However; they have two options that you go about when putting product up on their platform.
- $0.99 for every item you sell at time of purchase
- $39.99 a month as a flat fee regardless of purchases
If you have a YouTube channel. You can attach your merchandise to your videos.
You can post up items at no cost to you. As long as people like what you are making, Facebook will feed it to more people!
Facebook/ Instagram Store
As long as you have a business account (which is free) you can add merchandise to your business profile that people can purchase right off Facebook and Instagrams Platform.
Shopify, which I'm pretty sure most people know about at this point in the ecommerce world at this point. Is a very user friendly platform that integrates with pretty much any other platform you can think about. Including most banks. The cool part is that you can start your store
Prices depend on plans
- Free Trial - 2 Weeks
- Basic Plan - $29.99/ Mo
- Shopify Plan - $79.99/ Mo
- Advanced Plan - $299/ Mo
Squarespace is a platform that combines online with offline shopping. You can create a website, manage a pop-up or retail store, and even host content. This has been around for a little bit now, and I would recommend it if you are starting a clothing brand and you have a decent budget.
Plans vary depending if you pay annually or monthly
- Personal: Monthly - $16 | Annually - $144
- Business: Monthly - $26 | Annually - $216
- Basic Commerce: Monthly - $30 | Annually - $312
- Advanced Commerce: Monthly - $46 | Annually -$480
This is a hosted ecommerce platform to where you can have an instant website in a few minutes. Geared towards small-large businesses that need a website. One unique feature I like about BigCommerce is that you can import products directly from Wordpress.
Here are the plans (comparable to Shopify's)
- Standard - $29.95/ Mo
- Plus - $79.95/ Mo
- Pro - $299.95/ Mo
Wix is a platform where if you want to control how you want your website to look, but lack coding skills or even some design skills. They make it easy for you. To put simply, it's a website building platform that you build.
- Basic - Free (Contains Ads)
- Combo - $16/ Mo
- Unlimited - $22/ Mo
- Pro - $27/ Mo
- VIP - $45/ Mo
There are many ways you can go about starting your own clothing brand and getting the ball rolling regarding getting inventory to you, or to ship to your customers.
At the end of the day Print on Demand is a great option for mainly streetwear brands or people that need to spread an impactful message through apparel. It's an affordable way to get off the ground! You can focus most of your efforts towards marketing and designs.
Wholesale is amazing with its controllability factor. Depending on your budget, your creativity is the only limit. It can be unmatched if you have the right mindset going into it! You have to a lot more to do but, you also gain a ton of knowledge learning from all the steps of the processes from sourcing to shipping. Which in the end will make you great at negotiating.
1. Know what style of clothes you will be using
2. Know your budget
3. Figure out what selling platform is best
There are many more questions you should still ask yourself like; whether time or money is more important to you.
But, these big three questions will really help guide you into the right direction. I hope this post treated you well and gave you some deeper insight!
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I also try and do posts at least one time a week and every time I write. It's based on deep-research/facts mixed with personal experiences by things I learn day by day.
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