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Tips for Creating Sweet Custom Branded Corporate Apparel

For the past 3 years when attending conferences my team and myself get frequently complimented on our official EDUCO custom branded hoodies and track jackets. With a quick follow up questions of "where did we get our custom corporate apparel from?" (Not bragging, just sharing the reason behind this post).

The short answer is me. I find the apparel, order samples, and direct the printing. 

The longer answer is this walkthrough of my informal approach for creating custom branded corporate apparel.

Here is a quick walk through of my process that has worked for the past 4 years for our team. Not sure how this will scale, but might still be a good place to start. The number of items, the cost per piece, and the printing costs vary from year to year, but this is a rough range.

Avg # of Printed Pieces
12 - 20
Avg Cost Per Piece + Printing
$70 - $90
Total Apparel & Printing Cost
$1,000 - $2,000
Timeline from Searching to Printing
1-2 months

The very high level view is:

  • Define your brand colors and find companies that tend to make clothes in that spectrum.
  • Order a sample run. One large in a couple of styles will do and you can approximate whether a team member needs a size up or down.
  • Have the team try the sample jackets/hoodies on and note their size needs.
  • Print the test. You want to ensure the fabric can take the printing and that looks good.
  • Order everyone's sizes from the fittings and maybe a few extras.
  • Send everyone's sizes in for printing.
  • Before you hand them out lay some because a lot of time and resources were spent on creating this sweet custom branded apparel. 

Find Apparel In Your Colors

Hopefully you have an amazing designer who has established some design governance standards. Thanks Chris!

If not, no worries, but you should schedule some time to speak with someone on your team who has the authority and knowledge to impart when it comes to your brand colors.

Assuming your brand colors are well defined - you need to find a company that prints jackets, hoodies, shirts (whatever you're looking for) in your brand colors. For us its red, black, grey and chartreuse. These companies usually have a hoodie or track jacket in one of those main colors:


Depending on your brand colors and stylistic preferences you may also want to check:


* Sign up for their newsletters of these websites or plan to shop around the change of seasons so you can find items on sale.

Order Samples

Be patient it may take a while to find a shirt/jacket/hoodie in your brands style and also that is free of foreign branding that you'll be able to print your own logo/name on it.

But once I have looked through these sites I'll usually have a final 2-3 shirts/jackets/hoodies that would work from a brand and stylistic perspective. Then I'll order one large shirt/jacket/hoodie in each of the 2-3 finalists options.

* Before you order the sample it might be a good idea to speak with a rep and make sure there is some decent stock around the items you're ordering.

Team Fitting

I make sure to a large sample in a couple different styles/apparel vendors.  In my experience each company has a completely different sizing chart, but the large tends to be the best template for team members to try on and see if they need to go up or down a size.

Once the samples come in I have everyone try each sample on and I listen to feedback on which style people like the best. The fitting is a good time for people to express their preference based on fabric, style and overall utility. Fortunately the consensus has always been unanimous on the preferred style (I guess that means we're all snappy dressers).

I also take down everyone's sizes and I order the remaining items before they all get snatched up because remember if they're on sale you may be left with only the one or very limited size options.

Print A Test Run

While all of the remaining jackets are being processed and shipped. I take the one of the sample items in for a testing at ShirtWorks (ask for Nancy or Rick) in Oak Park to select the printing material and placement. I use ShirtWorks cause they do nice work, they're friendly and they're local. 

As long as everything comes out ok we're good. So far I have only had an issue one year when the logo on the back got slightly misaligned, but thankfully it was on a hoodie so when the hood was down it covered covered up the mistake and no one, but me, would ever notice. 

Order Team Sizes

If you haven't ordered all of the team member sizes from the fitting you need to hurry up and get after that. Because if you want to wait to long you might be unpleasantly surprised at how quick sale items go and that stinks. Trust me I know the pain of getting this far where everyone likes the sample, the test print goes great, but you wait even one week and you go back to oder the remaining apparel and you there is a red "Out of Stock" sign next to your new hoodie or jacket.

* Also, a good idea to order a few extras for new team members that may be joining or friends or family if they dig what you're doing.

Send Team Sizes for Printing

Once the other jackets/hoodies come in and as long as everything went well with the test print go ahead and send the remaining items in for printing. If you use Shirtworks they're good about giving a rough timeline based on your needs.

Ground Rules

If you did your job you'll be getting back some very sweet custom printed corporate apparel for you and your team. However, before you hand them out you should lay some ground rules about use.

A lot of time and resources were spent making these and you don't want these becoming lounge clothes. People also represent your company when they're wearing this apparel.

Perhaps you don't care, but in my opinion this is a uniform and for work days, conferences, meetings, or other company related outings. So spell that out from the get go and you should have some nice branded apparel that will last you a few years.


If you followed this process you and your team can be the envy of all your peers. Hope that helps and if you'd like some help with your apparel feel free to:

Contact Marty @ EDUCO