Where can I find bulk t-shirts with random prints?
March 27, 2014 8:06 AM   Subscribe

Thirty years ago, I remember my dad buying bulk t-shirts from one of several companies advertised in the back of magazines. These shirts would have random company logos in random languages, and were clearly a way for t-shirt printers around the world to get rid of overstock. It was like a surprise box every time.

I decided to look for this today, as I'd love to have a bunch of random shirts. It seems like every search for bulk shirts lets you design your own logos, which is no fun at all.

Where's the weird stuff at? Do they just get shipped to Buffalo Exchange or some other recycled fashion store? Are t-shirt printers that much more efficient these days? Do they just throw them into the Pacific garbage gyre?
posted by hanoixan to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
ThinkGeek does something a little similar; you can get one random shirt (in a size you specify) from their own lines. (As a fan of chaos and randomness I approve of this sort of thing.)
posted by The otter lady at 8:13 AM on March 27, 2014

Near DC (in Greenbelt) I found a place that's like a warehouse for cast-off merchandise. One of the things they had was a huge selection of T-Shirts, probably hundreds of thousands, of irrelevant stuff. Tons of Obama 2008 Inauguration logos, boy bands from the 90s, long dead TV shows and movies. I haven't been by there in a while, and can't find them online, unfortunately. However it seems like that's a similar business model, where a company buys overstock stuff in bulk and then tries to pawn it off at a discount.
posted by codacorolla at 8:17 AM on March 27, 2014

I work for a t-shirt printer, and I wish I had more of a cosmically useful answer for you, but here goes:

- licensed collegiate apparel misprints/screwups must get destroyed or sometimes can be shipped to less-developed countries. For example, Academy Sports undoubtedly ordered Auburn National Champion tees and Florida National Champion Tees. Both were printed and shipped to stores in their respective fan areas, kept under embargo until after the game; sadly the Auburn tees were sent back and then sent off to places like Haiti and donated there. A missionary I know had a picture of a person in such a country wearing an Oregon national champs 2010 ball cap as a result (happier days!)

- custom printed misprints/screwups have to be handled with some degree of care because it wouldn't do for Bob's Muffler shop to see his logo printed in the wrong color or upside down on some shirts around town coming from the direction of the Goodwill. We actually use a lot of messed-up tees in the proofing and print registration steps; we turn them around or inside-out and do test-prints with them. So there's not really a lot of this and unfortunately what little we generate we probably just put in the dumpster.

- there's a segment of the business that deals in custom imprints that are sold in beach shirt shops, department stores, Wal-Mart. We don't handle that, but like any other merchandise there would naturally be some closeouts. However, compared to the '70s or so, my hunch is these things are cleared out in some secondary channels like TJMaxx, outlet stores, or the like more than they were back then. I think retailers order more carefully than they used to, as well, which would diminish the supply. Supply chain logistics have gotten very sophisticated.

- a google search did turn up http://www.rgriley.com/ -- not sure at a glance if they carry misprints/closeouts or just deal in slightly irregular blank goods, but worth checking out. Any of this kind of stuff is going to be online - if you can find one of those old ads and google it I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't turn up on a site that probably looks like it was built in Geocities...
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:21 AM on March 27, 2014 [6 favorites]

Have you tried Ebay? There are some there, like this.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:29 AM on March 27, 2014

This might be of interest - https://www.divebarshirtclub.com/
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:54 AM on March 27, 2014

Raygun in Des Moines sells their test print shirts. Mr. Culp has one with random overlapping screen prints from testing of different designs, ink colors, whatever.
posted by Flannery Culp at 9:23 AM on March 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

a google search did turn up http://www.rgriley.com/ -- not sure at a glance if they carry misprints/closeouts or just deal in slightly irregular blank goods, but worth checking out.

Awesome find, though the prices seem a bit high. I dug around and found this page.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:39 AM on March 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Idakoos is design your own, but the combination of insane outré sport/religion/animal and blandly cheesy logo is almost invariably hilarious. And the prices seemed reasonable - have a play around
posted by Sebmojo at 5:16 PM on March 27, 2014

For just $54 including shipping, you can get a dozen random shirts from 6 Dollar Shirts. They have a geeky pop culture tendency, but they're funny.
posted by wnissen at 9:08 PM on March 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

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