July 27, 2009 3:47 AM   Subscribe

MarketingFilter: So. . . I made a tacky (yet delightfully unrefined) t-shirt. How do I best sell it online? [Long jump]

A couple months back, I was looking to start up my own t-shirt company, along the lines of established companies UNDRCRWN and Pennant Race -- that is to say, a company with heavy sports influence with a sprinkling of pop culture and a dose of societal commentary. Maybe even a No Mas, but less for hipsters and yuppies and more for hip hop heads and anti-establishment people.

So I came up with a name -- ftw. clothing, with ftw being adapted from gaming-talk as for the win, but with the added connotation of f-ck the world. Our poster boy was going to be Rod "He Hate Me" Smart, a one-time kick returner for the Panthers (and other lesser stints).

My flagship shirt? In the spirit of old NBA playoff shirts featuring starting fives, I would have a simple black-on-white colorway and a starting five. But my starting five wasn't going to be a basketball team -- it was going to be related to crack. (Here's where the collective "eep!" comes in.)

Now, you might ask, but why? That's horribly tacky, maybe even not delightfully unrefined, and probably very offensive. And yes, I acknowledge that. It's kind of the point. I wanted a "statement" shirt, one that would make people think -- because really, for middle and upper America, and especially in my home of Hawai'i, crack is something that people think of in abstractions, and ghetto is a term applied to anything sketchy, when really, some of the worst ghettos are terrible things. I wanted a shirt that would put this reality in peoples' faces. In a way, it was like the infamous "Snowman" shirts popular earlier in the decade.

The shirts read:
Pyrex &
The Arm &
The Hammer &
The Spot &
The Raw

I printed them hoping that I'd be able to sell them (via consignment or whatever) in one of the newer less-established boutiques in Honolulu. I approached the one that I thought would give me the best chance, and the manager was totally cool with me -- but because of limited space, he couldn't run the shirt on the store's shelves. But if I showed him a season's lineup of designs, he'd be willing to put me in touch with his industry contacts and maybe I'd get something serious rolling.

After tinkering around and coming up with some designs (some were even pretty good) I realized that I didn't have enough to make a season's worth, probably because it was never my intention to make this my entire career. The manager understood, and encouraged me to give it some more thought and maybe talk to him in the future if I wanted to give it another run.

But now, I have 13 shirts left (I printed 15, thinking that I would get them on shelves, no problem) and I don't really know how to market them online.

They're not made with enough love for etsy, I can't get into supermarket, and I think that on other lesser sites, they'd sell... but probably over an extended period. eBay is a possible strategy, but I'm unsure about how to market them/title them and if they'll sell (and auction fees are preferably avoidable).

So... how do I move these shirts, preferably quickly, preferably digitally? (But any kind of movement is fine!)

(PS. For those of you who sometimes like to dig in OP's past records for dirt/help/what have you, yes, I acknowledged I set off a real sh!tstorm [that I'm just now reading, hey!] with my very first AskMeFi. The lesson, as always: sometimes I'm a real idiot. Sorry if you remember it, and doubly so for the ignorance.)

posted by the NATURAL to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total)
And, in case anyone else was wondering, the other ideas were MUCH more sports-related and hopefully more tasteful. I just wanted to start with a bang.
posted by the NATURAL at 4:00 AM on July 27, 2009

Secondly, and preemptively, the worst place I've lived (but, in a way, the best place) was West Philly. But only in UCity, never any of the worse parts. Sometimes I'd brush against the seamier side of life in Southeast Philly and North Philly once in a while (hand-to-hands from an adjacent car in South Philly, kids pushing on corners, etc), but that was it. So, while I'm not engaging in this kind of ill-thought-out tomfoolery from an Westside Baltimore vacant, I'm not exactly living my life in the O.C. being fed grapes on a loveseat, either.

Third, I understand that crack is not a laughing matter, or something to be taken lightly, and it is a horrible drug which has ruined lives and homes across the lower class of America (particularly in urban centers) since the 80s. I understand that. This shirt was in no way a satire, joke, or anything of the sort.

And lastly, if you're going to start another MetaTalk thread about me, I'm not intentionally being a troll. Whether it's worse to unintentionally be a troll... I don't know.
posted by the NATURAL at 4:17 AM on July 27, 2009

I think if anyone were going to start a MetaTalk thread about you or this post, it would not be for the offensive (and really, it's not all that offensive) design of your shirt, but rather for the fact that you seem to be trying to sell your shirts via AskMe.

Have you tried selling them on Ebay? Why not give them away? Set up a website/blog? Craigslist?
posted by billysumday at 5:00 AM on July 27, 2009

So you have about a dozen t-shirts to sell. You're not sure you're going to make any more. This is really not worth setting up any infrastructure for - so I would go for etsy or ebay. I know you say "they are not made with enough love for etsy" but people sell all sorts of shit on there, I'd just go for it.

Hi, I'm on metafilter and I could overthink a pile of shirts.
posted by handee at 5:01 AM on July 27, 2009

Ebay seems to have a market. If you search for "t-shirt drugs" you can see some examples. "Marketing" seems to be pretty straightforward: The t-shirt text, plus words like "funny," "cool," "drugs," and alternate slang words for the drug in the title. The auction text itself seems to be mostly a picture of the t-shirt.

"Buy it now" prices seem to run from about $7 to $9 plus shipping. Alternatively, you could contact one of the ebay sellers of these t-shirts and ask them to buy your small lot to turn around and sell.
posted by Houstonian at 6:12 AM on July 27, 2009

Hawhaw no I'm honestly not looking to pawn them off via MeFi. Honestly.
posted by the NATURAL at 10:04 AM on July 27, 2009

If they're really not handmade enough for etsy, another option (that's not ebay) is bigcartel.
posted by blackunicorn at 4:25 PM on July 27, 2009

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