Fashion’s not everyone’s forte. We get it. We do. Hey, we’ve been sporting the ever-comfortable, ever-shapeless, formless, grey, pizza-stained sweat pants longer than anyone. After a long night downtown, you have to wake up for an 8am business calculus class with a pounding headache and your hair looking like a stray cat after a rain storm. If Professor Hinkle thinks you’re spending an extra few minutes switching out of your pajamas and putting on makeup, just to have it drip off when you have to run to class sweating buckets--well, Hinkle can forget it. Honestly? She’s lucky you remembered to bring a pencil.
Yet at some point (maybe after your second double shot Macchiato) you have to remember: You’re a sister in a sorority. Not only that, you’re the t-shirt chair, and you’re being summoned to create a t-shirt design by the chapter recruitment chair. And dang it, you’re proud of it. So how do you show your sisters your pride? Surely there are plenty of ways, but first you should ask yourself just one question: Who Wore it Best? That’s right. OmegaFi is proud to share with you, oh proud sister, The Art of the Promotional Sorority T-Shirt.
Setting the Canvas
Sorority recruitment requires promotion, and at the center of promotion you absolutely must have the sorority product of all products: the promotional t-shirt. You heard us right. It’s the G.O.A.T. of combining clothing with chapter branding. And that’s where you come in, humble t-shirt chair. But take heed. It’s an art form, the t-shirt. You want to be stylish but not garish, classy but not boring, eye-catching and simple to digest, all with your sorority’s letters popping front and center.
We said front and center, and we meant it.
But any young artist worth her chops knows that you can’t sculpt David without a block of pristine marble, and you can’t paint the Mona Lisa without a canvas worthy of her smile. In promotional sorority t-shirt world, this translates to finding the right company to produce your threads. You’ll want to maybe look past the shirt printing shop in that dark corner of your local mall, unless that’s really the best option you have going. We hope it isn’t. If so, use the buddy system and keep your fingers on the mace when scoping it out. Luckily, though, that likely isn’t the case when you have reputable companies offering their products straight through the interweb (as we for some stupid reason call it), such as The Graphic Cow Company and Bonfire. These companies offer the talents of their staff artists to coordinate and produce original designs, or to produce one of their stock designs for a shipment of some promotional sorority t-shirts that are on fleek.
Are people still saying that? No?
Anyway, you get the idea. To create a masterpiece, you need the right tools. Now it’s time to . . .
Dip Your Brush
Before you actually start, though, this is when you’ll want to make a strategic decision: Who’s going to actually create this thing? If you aren’t an art major, or have otherwise developed some kind of technical skill in visual artistry or graphic design, chances are, not you. Remember that part of being a chair person is knowing when to delegate and when to get opinions from your fellow sisters. First and foremost, make sure you’re following your sorority’s branding etiquette, which may be outlined by your national organization. If you have any questions that aren’t addressed in the written guidelines, contact the national organization directly to make sure you don’t end up disastrously misrepresenting the sorority. For reference, see what past chairs have done that has worked.
Next, find a sister who’s talented artistically and have her produce some designs for you. Run the designs by other sisters. Like we said, if there are old standards that have worked well in the past, maybe reuse them or just use them for a basic outline and revamp them a little. Or else just make it easier on yourself and have the design company work something out for you that fits your ideas and is appropriate to what you’re using the shirts for. Recruitment/general promotion, Greek Week, an intramural team, a philanthropic partnership or event, et cetera, will all have different aesthetics and design needs. Talk with the president and other appropriate chair persons to find what works best.
Finally, you’ll want to pick the kind of clothing the design will go on. This is where our “canvas” metaphor comes up a little short. Canvases come in different sizes, but they’re basically all the same shape. Clothing? Holy cow. You know what we’re talking about. This can be a fashion nightmare if you pick wrong, so be careful at this stage of design. We know we said “t-shirt.” But honestly? Your design, your letters, can be printed on many clothing items such as sweaters, tank tops, jerseys, v-necks, any number of cuts of shirt, as well as accessories like hats, tote bags, necklaces, and so on. You might, for instance, get half-sleeves with an L.A. Dodgers’ style lettering to promote your intramural softball squad, whereas when you’re recruiting in the dead of winter, sweaters and beanies might be just a tiny bit more popular than tank tops. Kinda straightforward for an artistic genius such as yourself, right?
Ideally this will come early in the process of designing the number one promotional sorority t-shirt of all time. The background planning and logistics of purchasing promotional t-shirts is boring, but crucial. You’ll need to figure out your price point against the budget (keeping in mind sales tax and shipping), and if you’re selling the shirts for a fundraising effort, how much money you’re projected to make back. Also figure out how many shirts you’ll need, what sizes, and of course the style of shirt or other apparel. With that complete, you’re ready to get those bad girls from the designers into your sisters’ hands.
These are just a few of our tips when making sure your sisters are the ones Who Wore it Best. The Art of the Promotional Sorority T-Shirt is not for the faint of heart, but we know you’ll end up with some apparel you’d be happy to show off down the runway of life. Tell us about some of your t-shirt experiences in the comments below!