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Custom Screen Printed Transfers & More

Profitable T-Shirt Printing: Youth Apparel

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Hey friends! Dave here with Transfer Express and today, we’re talking about the printing opportunities for youth, toddler and baby apparel, along with printing safely and confidently using Oeko-TEK Standard 100 and CPSIA compliant print methods with apparel decorating.

We’ll get into the specifics in just a minute, but as apparel decorators, our goals here are to produce apparel that not only looks great but also prioritizes the well-being of the little ones that are going to be wearing our prints.

So, let’s dive into everything youth apparel: from markets to target, popular styles to decorate, printing methods, sizing and placement, and yeah, safety standards that will make you a confident and responsible decorator!

Ready, let's go!

Printing for the tiniest of humans can lead to some serious profit, with the children's apparel forecast as a $267 BILLION dollar industry globally this year alone.

If you’ve got a little one at home like I do, you’ll know it seems like they grow so fast that nothing fits, so with having to buy clothes so often, there's certain price points we have to hit as decorators to not price ourselves out of the market - more on that in a minute.

Just like with all apparel decorating, you can identify certain niches or occasions to target in your marketing, some of the most popular include….

Baby showers. Even before those babies join us in the world there’s a huge market for newborn apparel.

Birthdays and parties. Personalized gear for celebrating birthdays is in-demand, especially in the younger years.

Of course, sports & athletics. From those first days on the field playing t-ball, to fanwear for the region's teams (avoiding copyright and trademarks I hope). You shouldn’t forget about the smallest fans.

Piggybacking on that one- school spirit! From first days in kindergarten to field days, spirit wear for their older siblings' sports or activities and everything in between, if you’re already decorating for schools, you’ll know how big of a market this one is.

Another one- fun fashion & local pride. I say fun fashion because kids shirts are pretty silly sometimes, with fun imagery that the kids are going to like. Unicorns, monster trucks, dinosaurs, blue hedgehogs (still avoiding those trademarks I hope!) the sky is the limit here. Want to get inspired? Just take a stroll through the youth section at Target or Old Navy.

And lastly, holidays- not just our winter holidays, but everything from Fourth of July to Halloween warrants the little ones getting decked out for the occasion.

Now that we have our markets, let’s chat apparel. Of course, onesies for babies are popular, but can be tricky to print. Using smaller platens on your heat press to isolate the printing area from seams and buttons will give you frustration free printing and long lasting prints. You can also use something a lot more inexpensive like these mousepads to raise the printing area as well giving you similar capabilities for just a few dollars.

The Rabbit Skins RS4400 is a great option available in wholesale at prices you can easily profit with. Onesies are typically available in four or five sizes, newborn, 6mo, 12 months, 18 Months & 24 months.

For toddler apparel, or the 2-4T sizes, there’s plenty of great options, from the Gildan 5100P in 9 colors, or the Port and Company PC450TD 100% ring spun cotton option. That’s the little brother of the adult Fan Favorite tee (spoiler alert its one of my favorites, too) that’s available in 17 colorways. These are going to outfit those kiddos up to 4 or 5 years old.

Once you get up to youth garments, the selection widens up quite a bit, with almost every manufacturer getting into the market. Brands and styles like the Comfort Colors 9018, Gildan, Bella+Canvas, Jerzees, Hanes, and of course the middle brother of the Fan Favorite like we’re going to decorate here today, the PC450Y.

Before we get to decorating though, let’s talk about different transfer types we can use to print on these cotton blanks. First up, our Goof Proof® screen printed transfers here from Transfer Express. Goof Proof is a plastisol ink transfer that gives you the capabilities of screen printing without the hassle! We’ll handle the mess of screen printing so you can just press and profit. These spot color prints are durable and look just like traditional screen printing. When applied correctly they last 50+ wash/dry cycles, so they’re made to look great long after they’re handed down with bright opaque prints on any color of apparel. With steep quantity breaks, screen printed transfers are great for higher quantity orders, say 12+ giving you the ability to print quickly with application times as quick as 4 seconds! But with minimums as low as just 6 sheets, they’re accessible for almost any print job. The best part is the simple and smooth application here with an effortless hot peel application.

Of course, with screen printed transfers you pay for each additional color in your artwork- and that's where full color transfers come in for when you’ve got detailed or artwork with more than 3 colors. Digitally printed options like our UltraColor Max™ direct to film transfers give you the ability to order just one or many, with set per-square-inch pricing at just 6 cents. With the reduced print area and small graphics for youth apparel that means some SERIOUSLY cost effective printing! Something like this 4” wide dinosaur with all this detail is just over a dollar… and you can order just one- pretty cool right?

With just some basic calculations, say a onesie like this might run $4 blank, the print at maybe $1.20, and we’re looking at $5.20 cost to decorate. Keeping the retail price right around $10 keeps us in the affordable range while still netting over 100% in profits! Now that’s what I'm talking about!

Just like with the Goof Proof screen printed transfers, UltraColor Max transfers have a single-step application with a hot peel. No need to wait for the transfer to cool down, no need to cover and repress, one 12-15 second press and it’s perfectly applied to the garment.

As I mentioned, the square inch pricing and the size, I do want to mention general sizing recommendations for these styles of apparel. For onesies, limiting your prints to 4”x 4” inches or so is going to yield the best results and keep your prints away from any seams. For toddlers, 5.5 to 6” wide and for youth, somewhere around 9” wide would span all of the sizes. I recommend to size your designs to the smallest size garment on the order so, say if you’re doing just youth larges you may be able to get away with something like 10 or 10 and a half inches.

Now that we’ve got our printed apparel, let’s chat about some safety standards that both UltraColor Max and our Goof Proof screen printed transfers have been tested for and approved. You may have seen Oeko-Tek certifications before when shopping for youth apparel. The Standard 100 certifies that these inks have been rigorously tested against a list of up to 350 toxic chemicals and is below the harmful threshold- safe to wear for all ages and exceeding international standards for textiles.

Since these transfers meet international standards, it’s no surprise they’re also CPSIA certified as well. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act or CPSIA, is a United States government law restricting hazardous chemicals in textiles and children’s products.

So, get out there! Start printing youth apparel with confidence, and maybe you’ll find a new market to help bring in some more profits.

Of course, be sure to subscribe to the Transfer Express YouTube page to stay up to date on all of the helpful t-shirt printing tips, tricks, inspiration and education that we’re dropping every single week. Until next time, I’m Dave, happy pressing!

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