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Let T-Shirt Monster Know You Want Control Over the Shirts You Sell

T-Shirt Monster is a Canadian company that prints graphic designs on t-shirts and ships them out to customers on demand. For every t-shirt that T-Shirt Monster sells, the person who came up with the graphic design on the shirt gets a commission, making the print-on-demand model a good way for designers and T-Shirt Monster to collaborate. T-Shirt Monster gets some profit, designers get some ramen, and somebody in Ottawa gets some new duds. Sounds like a sweet deal all around, doesn’t it?

There’s one party I haven’t mentioned in this sweet deal, and that’s the person who actually makes the shirt. Not the person who prints the shirt — this is T-Shirt Monster’s job — I mean the person who actually makes the shirt. T-Shirt Monster makes graphic designs available for sale on a wide range of shirts. Some of these shirts are made in Los Angeles, USA by American Apparel in a legal, sweatshop-free environment. Some of these shirts are made sweatshop-free in Canada from organic fair trade cotton by the really interesting company called Me to We that gives half its profits to international children’s charities. And then some of these shirts are made in impoverished nations with poor labor standards and wage protections by producers like Hanes and Bella and Gildan. Coincidentally, even though there’s greater shipping costs, the t-shirts these latter companies make cost ever so much less. Can you figure out how that’s possible?

We have to keep this plant economically viable. In 1965, our T-shirts were advertised, a 5-pack for $4.99. Today you can go out to a store and find a 7-pack for $4.99. Those are the economics of the apparel business.

Hanesbrands spokesman Matt Hall

Although we really like the idea of American Apparel and especially the Me to We shirts, Irregular Times does not currently have any working relationship with T-Shirt Monster, and that’s because the T-Shirt Monster website doesn’t allow graphic designers to limit sales of their designs to particular shirts. If you want to offer a Free Speech Me to We T-Shirt, you also have to offer a Free Speech Hanes T-shirt. Given the recent history of Hanes production, if we have to decide to print on Me to We and Hanes shirts or no shirts, we choose no shirts.

In a Twitter post last month, T-Shirt Monster asked for feedback on a site redesign — and in private conversations, T-Shirt Monster staff have let us know that they’re looking for a way to let graphic designers control which shirts are being sold for their images. If you care about ethical sourcing of t-shirts and would like to increase designers’ control over the use of their images on products, send an encouraging e-mail to info@tshirtmonster.ca and let the T-Shirt Monsters know how important this issue is to you.

3 comments to Let T-Shirt Monster Know You Want Control Over the Shirts You Sell

  • I agree that sellers should be able to limit the selection of shirts in their shops to those that are only ethically made. It only makes sense. By giving sellers a choice, T-Shirt Monster would attract more ethic and eco conscious designers to its site.

    The Me to We and American Apparel are a good selection to start with where someone could open a shop with offering just those. However, like you said, sellers are stuck offering all t-shirt styles or none.

    I also saw that Twitter announcement by TSM and have been sending them a steady stream of suggestions. I sent so many, I forgot if this topic was one that I suggested also. Oh well, it won’t hurt if it gets mentioned to them more than once.

    I did mention that TSM needs to offer more Me to We styles after I checked out their website and saw that they have dozens of t-shirt types. I think I saw that they had bamboo. I would really like to offer bamboo in my shop. Hopefully this and our other suggestions will be heard by T-Shirt Monster.

  • Jim

    Sadly, when I got back in touch with T-Shirt Monster, a representative informed me that now they don’t plan to add the ability for shopkeepers to limit selection of shirts until Christmas 2010. I for one won’t be working with T-Shirt Monster this year. The inability to control what products a design appears upon is a dealbreaker for me.

  • EC Pak

    The Me to We and American Apparel are a good selection to start with where someone could open a shop with offering just those. However, like you said, sellers are stuck offering all t-shirt styles or none.

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