The Pandemic And Custom Merch
The trends of 2022 are largely influenced by the past few years. 2020 was the beginning of significant change to the world, which included the custom merch industry in many ways. In early 2020, the pandemic ground the economy to a halt forcing the demand for t-shirts to turn to masks. Many screen printers adapted to this change, including us. It’s been a wild ride waiting for things to settle back into post-2020 expectations. In 2022, the lasting impact has been supply chain logistics as well as pricing volatility. Here’s a look at how those trends affected the industry and our top suggestions for placing your order for custom t-shirts in 2022.
Google Trends is a wonderful resource to identify the trends of a particular keyword over time. The keyword “custom shirts” is a common phrase that often follow a seasonal pattern. March of 2020 was a different story as the Coronavirus pandemic shifted demand. Companies moved to remote work, which halted the demand for company merch. When schools went to remote learning, events like fun runs and sports events disappeared. However, a new search was growing for face masks.
Comparing the above graph to a more timely search like “custom facemasks” shows the power of shifting demand. One of our favorite brands, Bella + Canvas, retooled their machines to meet the growing demand to offer a “daily face cover“. The mask, made from t-shirt material, was born out of the idea to limit transmission. A smart move, at the right time, DesignAShirt shipped thousands of custom facemasks during this time. As the pandemic moved on, suppliers reducing manufacturing and shipping delays began to affect delivery of all goods. Blank t-shirts, polos, sweaters and all other goods became more scarce. The question became “how do we get the goods our customers need?”
2021 was the year of becoming t-shirt detectives. As orders began to pick back up, inventory levels struggled to keep up. Our suppliers were projecting fulfillment dates far into the future or listed as TBD. Our Customer Service department became highly proficient at determining what products could be substituted for others. This is a challenge for companies who need to use the same polos for employees, or the apparel brand who always prints on a blank t-shirt that their customers love. Solid color t-shirts were easier to substitute than unique heathers and tri-blend tees.
An interesting growth during this period came from the DIY crowd. While Cricut machines differ from both screen printing and dtg (direct-to-garment) printing, they do offer an affordable way to create custom shirts. You can see below how the demand for information on them exploded during lockdown. The challenge, once again, were the blank t-shirts. P.S. DesignAShirt does offer blank shirts, just contact our Customer Service here.
What’s Trending This Year?
With summer weather now upon us, t-shirts and tank tops have become popular again. Many manufacturers offer blends that wear well in warmer weather. Check out our activewear collection for styles you can customize. Looking for something unique? Our Specialty items include towels, aprons, caps, and more. DesignAShirt also has access to promo merch you can use to promote your brand or business. Contact us for more information.
When it comes to designs, our customers are as diverse as the products they print on. Give us a follow on Instagram to see photos of customer prints, tutorials, and more. You can get inspiration, anytime, from our Idea Gallery.
What To Expect Ordering Custom Merch In 2022
Two years later, the custom merch landscape has improved and inventory levels have gotten much more manageable. Most orders for custom t-shirts are able to receive the product of their choice. DesignAShirt offers free 10-day delivery as well as expedited shipping options. Even with rapid shipping, we are still able to fulfill your custom t-shirt order on time. However, most suppliers project a return-to-normal by 2024. If you’re considering placing an order for custom shirts online, here is what you need to know.
Placing A Custom Merch Order FAQ
- Be Flexible – Many products are similar in style, so substitutions are not only seamless but may be an opportunity to fall in love with a new brand. Have questions? Reach out to us before placing your order and we can check on the product of your choice.
- Buy More, Save More – Wholesale printing and large volume means better pricing per print. If you’re looking to print in bulk, check out our article on Wholesale Printing.
- Prices May Increase – The sooner you can place your order, the better for your pocket. As prices seem to increase in all places of the world, blank products have yet to escape this fate. You can always check up-to-date pricing on our quote page. Remember to verify pricing if it has been an extended period from when you received your first quote and when you are ready to place your order.
- You Have Access To Artists – If you’re looking for a new design, and not looking forward to designing it, we have your solution. T-Shirt Concierge™ offers you free expert design. Submit your ideas/inspiration and we will return an amazing design you can apply to your favorite products.
- Be Prepared To Be Amazed – DesignAShirt has a 4.9/5 star rating from over 6,200 happy customers. We know you’ll love your new prints.