When you sell shirts like we do in the Chicane Shop, there’s a number of questions that need to be constantly asked and answered: How many of that design do we have left? How many of this new design do we think we’ll need? Will this design sell at all? How many of each size should we order?
All of these questions keep me from putting out more shirts, more often. There are services that print shirts on demand as they’re ordered. But they tend to use direct digital printing to the garment and the quality tends to be poor so I’ve avoided them. A recent service has launched that organizes crowdfunding of quality t-shirt screenprinting.
For those unfamiliar with crowdfunding, the basic system is this: A shirt design is proposed and if a certain threshold of people decide to buy it within a certain amount of time, then the purchases are processed, the shirts are printed, and they’re distributed to all the buyers. If not enough people decide they want it, the shirts never happen and no one is charged anything. Anyone who has followed a project on Kickstarter or Indie Go-Go is familiar with this approach to sales.
I’ve decided to give it a go as an experiment. The result is extending the Legends series of shirts we’ve been selling to include the Legends of the 70s; surely one of the most exciting times in international motorsport with some of the most colorful drivers and dynamic moments in racing. If we get 15 people to commit to purchasing the shirt in the next 2 weeks, the shirts will be printed and distributed. Of course we can sell more than 15 too, so tell your friends.
What does this mean for the future of Chicane shirts? It will let us try more different kinds of shirts, more often. Instead of our typical glacial pace of 1 or 2 shirt designs—and infrequent re-orders—a year, we’ll be able to release one a month or one a week. It will also let us take more risks on the kinds of shirts we design. You wouldn’t believe how conflicted I was when I ordered the first batch of Yamura Motors shirts. Would anyone even understand this? Am I going to be stuck with boxes and boxes of this shirt? That shirt has gone on to be our best seller. A crowdfunding model like this takes some of that worry away and essentially puts those questions to a vote. You get to decide which designs make the cut.