More than 2 Billion T-shirts are sold per year, equaling to 64 T-shirts sold worldwide – Every. Single. Second. With the significance of this rather simple and universally worn clothing item, the T-shirt has dominated regardless of time and culture, and here at ICON, is our absolute favourite way to help brands and businesses increase their awareness and customer loyalty. To really understand why the T-shirt is amongst the most widely adopted; and preferred form of personalised merchandise by our clients, let’s break down the history behind where this classic, all-American wardrobe staple comes from.
How it started:
The iconic “T-shape” of the T-shirt has origins that date back to the late 19th century Rome, where the tunica, a simple undershirt, was worn by both men and women. Used widely as a layer of protection between the skin and other clothing by many, hygienists of the time recommended the use of thick knitted wool ‘t-shirts’ under your clothing as a means to fight the cold and other flu-like illnesses, evolving into the thermal, heat-tech technology T-shirts and undergarments we have today. Adopted soon after during World War I as a staple undershirt for the United States military and naval services alike, a T-shirt made of a lightweight, breathable material and was worn under the sailor’s uniform and was born to be the most versatile piece of apparel ever created.
How it changed:
In the early 1920s however, the functionality of the T-shirt being utilised as only an undergarment was challenged. Known as the founding fathers of the T-shirt rebellion movement Marlon Brando’s “A StreetCar Named Desire” and James Dean’s “Rebel Without a Cause” were both the first; and most famous on-screen performances where both key characters wore T-shirts as an outer-garment, beginning the business boom of T-shirts world wide. Quickly after the movies were aired, wearing T-shirts outside of work as an outer garment became a sign of rebellion – an association made through the characterisation of the infamous pop culture icons.
How it grew:
The growing political and social unrest of the 1960s catapulted the significance of T-shirts, altering their role beyond fabric and functionality. T-shirts were starting to be used as a means of activism, signifying what we now recognise as the most powerful canvas used of expression, whether political, advertorial, graphic or humorous. Technological advancements in the printing world, specifically screen printing, only enhanced this, making it faster, easier and more inexpensive than ever before to print designs directly onto T-shirts.
By the start of the 70s, custom-made, personalised T-shirts became the ultimate wardrobe staple, and since have grown to become the leading choice of merchandise for creators, brands and businesses of all kinds.
Keen to find out more? Click here to find out how personalised T-shirts can boost employee morale and to find out more about working with us, contact our sales team at firstname.lastname@example.org or click for an instant quote!
As specialists within the personalised merchandise industry, we can confirm that it’s a particularly great way to showcase your brand, celebrate a special occasion, or simply express your creativity through apparel. But what makes for the best personalised merchandise? Here’s a break down of our ICON certified, top expert tips to consider:
Quality: The first and most important factor is the quality of the merchandise itself. Whether you’re looking for custom t-shirts, caps, or mugs (we custom print on them all!) make sure the item is made of durable materials and is well-constructed. No one wants a product that falls apart after just a few uses, and customised merchandise is often given bad rep for this exact reason. Luckily, at ICON we only work with the most high quality materials, sustainably sourcing premium finish organic cotton for our T-shirts, with our Organic Unisex T-shirt being a top choice for all our personal brand owners and creators due to its high durability and customisation versatility.
Design: The design of your personalised merchandise should be eye-catching and visually appealing. Consider using bright colours, bold fonts, and clear graphics to make your design stand out. As a printing company that is led by design, our team works closely with each client to perfect their desired design and make recommendations on the ultimate printing or embroidery technique that is the most cost-effective, quick to complete, and most importantly: sustainable, for your type of order. One of our top performing client’s used our bespoke printing services at ICON Printing to create their personalised merchandise, and had to say “the quality of the DTP print was great, i stretched the fabric and no cracking! The quality of the Hoodie is sick! Fits like a charm. I’m ready for the UK Winter!” Click here to read more about our client work and how you can work with us today.
Functionality: While aesthetics are important, it’s also crucial that your personalised merchandise is functional. Think about what your employees, audience or customers will actually use the item for and make sure it serves a practical purpose. For example, a personalised thermos flask should be easy to carry and use, while a personalised t-shirt should be comfortable to wear. Our brand new customisable thermos flasks are an easy and inexpensive addition to your company apparel, made specifically to improve your work experience during the harsher colder months. Check our catalogue of products here.
Uniqueness: Personalised merchandise is all about standing out and expressing your brand. Consider adding a personal touch to your designs, such as a special company quote expressing your value or mission, a unique graphic or customised embroidered initials for each of your employees, truly making your merchandise one-of-a-kind.
The best personalised merchandise strikes a balance between quality, design, functionality, uniqueness, and relevance. At ICON, we consider each and everyone of these factors, helping you create long-lasting personalised apparel that your audience will love and use time and time again.
Ready to take the next step in creating your own custom-made collection of apparel? Get in touch with a member of our sales team at email@example.com or click here to receive an instant quote!
Priding ourselves as experts in the field, here at ICON we cover all your printing needs from A to Z. Whilst screen printing is our most loved service, and unsurprisingly, is amongst the most popular fabric printing methods in the world, it is also widely scrutinised under the sustainability radar.
Why? Let’s break it down.
Requiring practitioners to use a brush to manually force ink through the screens, the origins of screen printing date back as early as the 1920s. With the invention of Vasilantone’s dual rotary printing press; which allowed for fabric to be placed through sets of rotating pallets and print heads, the traditional transfer method was made obsolete and altered the history of this holy-grail printing technique. Initially, limited to hand-made only, screen printing was slow and costly. However, after Vasilantone’s invention, printing happened much more quickly, cleanly and efficiently, becoming a designer favourite.
For a more in-depth article on the origins of screen printing, read this super cool piece by experts: The man who changed t-shirt printing forever.
With the use of screen printing now directed towards the production of mass produced personalised merchandise, due to the cost and time efficiency, its use is deemed unsustainable. However, with now being able to control the production for the same cost efficiencies, screen printing may be made more sustainable through limiting the overproduction of unsold merchandise. Yet, not all of it boils down to scale, but more so – resources.
Screen printing makes use of ink to print. Plastisol inks contain PVC; a micro-plastic named the most environmentally damaging of all plastics. Not only does this cause serious health risks throughout the production process but also contributes to the plastics damaging ecosystems on our planet.
Water-based inks on the other hand: pigments suspended in water, provide us with a more sustainable alternative. This no plastics option is as sustainable as can be from production to product, better for your skin; due to the fabric being left more breathable and the screens and equipment, after printed, are washed with plain water. At ICON, we aim to be as eco-conscious as possible and drive the change towards more sustainable printing by leading by example. As our raison d’etre, we take into consideration your order quantity, use and designs when deciding how we complete your order, and target to be the most planet friendly as possible.
For more insight on sustainable dyes, read: The Eco-friendly guide to screen printing
Picking your apparel:
When considering your medium for personalised merchandise, t-shirts are the first form of apparel that comes to mind – and we have to agree! Despite it being the most popular type, screen printing can be done on a variety of custom-made apparel such as baseball caps, reusable bottles and more. As part of our printing services at ICON now extended to include these options, we also advise on giving new, and more sustainable apparel, a go.
In comparison to a personalised, water ink dyed, screen printed sweatshirt, custom printed baseball caps are more durable due to the lack of washing involved, and as a result, last longer. Similarly, take into account when deciding on creating merchandise: are you able to set-up a pre order so the printing quantity can be optimised to only those items sold? Can you consider printing on sustainably sourced, organic fabrics? A lot of our sustainability concerns may also be addressed along the journey of your order.
To find out more about sustainable screen printing for your personalised merchandise, contact our sales team or click here to get an instant quote.
Working within the realms of customised printing, ICON has successful delivered personalised merchandise to thousands of clients in the UK and worldwide in our time within the industry. As part of our expertise, we provide white labelling, and more particularly, re-labelling services, which can readily be used to improve quality, enhance brand image and make significant impact in increasing the perceived value of merchandise.
Here’s everything you need to know about it.
White labelling is the process of ordering already assembled products from a manufacturer or wholesaler and then customising these products to include your own labels, branding and unique offering. Here at ICON, we work closely with clients who want to commission this service and provide the product i.e., our Organic Unisex T-shirts, our Heavy Blend Hoodies and other printable apparel we sustainably source, and customise these with their chosen colours, designs and even customised company or logo-specific labelling.
For our current clients and prospect users alike, the method of white labeling has now made it exponentially simpler; and more cost effective, to create their own personalized merchandise. An industry in particular that has been momentously impacted by the widespread growth of white labeling is the Music industry.
Professionals in the industry such as Cochrane (2022) reported a significant rise in the demand, and the corresponding sales of fan merchandise, with Travis Scott’s London O2 show in August of this year, selling nearly £1 million pounds worth of merchandise at these concerts. For smaller or independent artists in the UK within the industry, a study conducted by Spotify (2022) found an identical sentiment, with revenue generated from fan merchandise providing a sustainable financial stream of income for these artists during a time where revenue from streaming is negligible and the cost-of-living crisis is continually impacting ticket sales.
With ICON’s white labelling services being simple, sustainable and cost effective to execute, it’s now easier than ever before to start your business, improve your brand awareness and grow a stronger audience. Whether you’re an independent creator or hosting a local triathlon, making use of our white labelling services enables a stress-free journey to design and sustainably executing your ultimate personalised merchandise.
It’s cost effective:
By using a white labelling printing provider, the costs of sourcing a supplier, having to order in large or minimum order quantities, and the price of working with multiple vendors; such aa a graphic designer, a wholesaler and an embroidery specialist, are removed. Here at ICON, we streamline the process of creating your personalised merchandise and manage every stage of the process, all in-house and all within our quoted price. (there’s no surprises!)
The complexity of creating personalised merchandise, especially with the plethora of textiles, printing techniques and more, can be hard to understand and fulfil. White labelling allows for a large majority of the hard work; and time, associated with production to decrease – or be removed all together. Now, without the need to sample fabrics, find a manufacturer and manage a production team, your time can be used towards building your business or working on making viral content for your audience.
It’s more sustainable:
Without the associated energy and waste used to mass produce merchandise with minimum order quantities for more competitive prices, you can now produce only what you need or what has already been sold. By placing sustainability and environmental impact at the forefront, here at ICON you can purchase quantities as low as a single item, and choose your desired fabric, apparel type and according to your design, a printing technique as well.
Want to find out more? To get an instant quote, click here or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our team will be in touch to get you started.
The history of the t-shirt can be traced back to the early 20th century, and was a method of unifying those serving in the US Navy. By having the same undershirts whilst at sea; in addition to their uniforms, not only was there a community and union ship formed, but the similarity in garments introduced a layer of implicit equality between peers, boosting a higher happiness level.
Shared community brought about increased morale as a result, and to no surprise, further brought a rise in productivity. This minor yet radical change has influenced the new generation of workplace attire and encouraged now employers to have set workplace uniforms or elements of personalised merchandise as part of their code of conduct, and has positively left these businesses experiencing a 12% higher productivity level of their happier workers. How? Here’s the science behind it.
According to Fashion Designer Sikhounmuong, the experience of personalisation; monogramming in particular, “is one tradition that’s both personal and universal at the same time,” and is a key example that is used in customising personalised t-shirts/uniforms. This is because, when studying the impact of community on workplace morale, it was found that in environments where employees share a uniform or a similar look, they are likely to experience an increase in morale as employees feel connected to a common goal, and belong as part of a team.
In addition, more than 75% of woman-identifying employees in the work force highlighted that they suffer from feeling uncomfortable, and largely anxious, in the workplace; as stated by Forbes-Bell, industry specialist in fashion and human psychology, and how a unified company clothing policy can make all the difference in reducing this problem.
Similarly, traditional formal “office wear” such as blazer pant-suits have been found to load cognitive thinking and encourage a hierarchical, authoritarian environment – both of which are elements disrupting positive workplace morale. Whereas, in their studies in the relationships between clothing and examination performance; Bell, Cardello & Schutz (2005) found that comfortable garments, those which are more informal in nature and made of more natural fabrics; such as our trustworthy Organic Cotton Unisex T-shirts, are likely to boost cognitive performance, productivity and happiness levels.
Our client’s at N1 Garden Centre would agree, and came to ICON with the request to create custom-made, nature inspired, workplace attire. When asked about the importance of their personalised workplace t-shirts, Caroline Humphreys, the Office Manager said: “Our uniforms from Icon Printing fit our branding perfectly. They are stylish but most importantly practical. We have gone for lots of different types of items so that staff working outside can layer up and keep warm.” With respects to recognising the change to cooler weather, the N1 Garden centre took this initiative, resulting in happier – and warmer, employees.
Why you should execute this now:
Whether you’re a large corporation engaging thousands of employees, a more boutique home-based business or a freelance content creator with a team, personalised apparel may be the magic in further levelling-up your collective team morale. Through association, fostering community and leveraging a more creativity-first approach to work, the next generation of workplace attire is formulated of comfortable, casual and [insert] pieces to make the most integral part of any business; your employees feel happier. At ICON, we believe there is no better way to foster a positive community, and work tirelessly in the business of happy clients in creating their bespoke personalised t-shirts and outerwear.
Jump on the trend to personalised workwear from ICON by contacting our sales team or click here to get an instant quote.
In the print world, screen printing is one of the most common methods used in personalised merchandise production, and with good reason. At ICON, it’s often our main method of printing for time sensitive, high-quality and long-lasting personalised t-shirts, whilst allowing for expert levels of detail and a wide variety of customisation. However, this holy grail method of printing has been labelled unsustainable in the past and is largely a result of the dyes involved in the process. Let’s break it down.
Screen printing comprises of using the technique of creating a picture or pattern by forcing ink or metal on to a surface through a screen of fine material. The cost of using this printing technique is based off the artwork involved; the level of details, the range of colour, as each colour requires a separate screen, adding to the additional cost, and the volume of the order. Each of these factors combined then impacts the type of ink and dyeing process that can be used.
Want to dive deeper? Read our expert’s ultimate guide to screen printing here.
What inks are used to fulfil an order is ultimately based on the suitability of the dye for the merchandise order requested. Screen printing works ideally for larger orders that encompass artwork with spot colours, as opposed to photographs or full colour prints with gradients, and are most commonly made using plastisol ink. Although widely applied when screen printing and renown for it’s durability and cost-effective nature, the main component in plastisol ink is made with PVC and is essentially liquid plastic, making it difficult to recycle, break-down after the product lifecycle, and overall is harmful to the environment.
The more sustainable solution? Water-based inks.
Water-based inks use water as the main solvent in carrying pigment, which allows for the inks to be sharp and vibrant, making it much easier to extract, produce and better for the environment. With water-based screen printing, the inks used are thinner and more transparent than other types of printing dyes and, in comparison to plastisol ink, water-based dyes penetrate deeper into fabric, resulting a softer and more breathable print, not crumbling when the t-shirts are scrunched up. According to Bristow (2021) making use of water-based inks and organic cotton for your apparel allow for deeper absorption into the fabric, increasing wearability and product longevity, driving further within the eco-friendly nature of the dye.
While water-based inks are the more sustainable screen-printing option, it has its limitations.
Cottons only: The problem with water-based screen printing is that you cannot print on 100% polyester. This is because when water hits polyester, it creates a film on top of the fabric that keeps the ink from seeping in. Instead, here at ICON, we use 100% organically sourced cotton for your garments. For more options, check out our catalogue of apparel here.
Know your dyes: There are all sorts of water-based inks, from high solids water-based inks, which are excellent for stretchy fabrics, to discharge inks, which works through a bleaching process where the colour of the ink replaces the shirt’s colour. Look for dyes that are made from natural, sustainable materials and these dyes work just as effectively as synthetic dyes, but are much better for our planet.
At ICON, we pride ourselves as pioneers in sustainable screen-printing industry. Want to find out more? Click here to get an instant quote or email us at email@example.com and someone from our team will get in touch.
If you’re an influencer in the Gaming space struggling to widen your reach and strengthen your fan base, this one’s for you.
Today, 2.8 Billion people make up one of the largest communities in the world — Gamers. With one in three people worldwide engaging in playing video games on a weekly basis; a number continuously growing as you’re reading this, the gaming industry has experienced a boom like no other, with a projected market value of $300 Billion by 2025. This surge of players online has created a new opportunity for gaming enthusiasts; to quit their day jobs and generate full-time incomes as Gaming Influencers; Streamers, Pro-level gamers, E-sport players and more.
With a cult following built on platforms like Twitch, Discord and Youtube Gaming, Influencers in the industry have marked their territories online by accumulating an impressive fanbase. Gamer turned Youtuber PewDiePie is the most subscribed to person on Youtube till date, with a monumental 111 million watchers. What keeps the gamer audience growing? According to a study published in the International Journal of Interdisciplinary Research: fan-themed custom apparel.
Personalised merchandise has been named the holy grail community engagement tool across the entertainment industry. In a growing yet saturated space for upcoming Gaming Talent, the ultimate method to differentiate a brand and nourish an online audience is through the launch of high quality, limited quantity individualised gear.
Ex-pro-level player now Twitch sensation; Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, was amongst the first gamers to launch a collaborative collection for his impressive 13 million Twitch streamers with Adidas, selling out within minutes. Back by popular demand, Ninja’s second personalised merchandise collection with Adidas Originals launching in October of this year: Chase the Spark, has already gained significant popularity amongst his fans and is projected to sell out even faster. Similarly, E-sports expert Juggernaut, whose team worked with Gucci on the release of a limited edition watch; priced at $1,620, sold out entirely and is amongst one of the most sought after pieces for E-sport aficionados.
The performance of these collections is nothing short of magic, and is reinforced by the fascinating concept of simplified consumer psychology. With it’s foundations in signalling theory, a notion developed by Economist Micheal Spence, members of an audience are likely to feel “more connected to a product, an organisation and one another through explicit association or signals” such as wearing merchandise belonging to a certain game, gaming community and influencer fan base.
This enclothed cognition; a term used to describe “the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes” studied by Hajo Adam and Adam D.Galinsky in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, found similar findings. Those who wore attire which is closely associated within the nature of a particular activity, such as wearing lab coats to perform tasks commonly associated with attentiveness and carefulness, found an increase in selective and sustained attention spans in their trial subjects. With gamers evolving to now break stereotypes of gamer attire and “what a gamer should look like,” fan-themed customised apparel bridges the gap between the creator and their online community like never before.
At ICON, we’ve worked with forward-thinking brands and creators alike, to create bespoke, sustainability driven, custom made apparel that lasts for the people we value the most: our community.
Keen to get your first collection of personalised merchandise underway? Click here for an instant quote or contact our team for a more in-depth review into how we can take you from design to delivery in less than 14 days!
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