August 15, 2018

A Journey into SpectraUSA’s Premium Private Label

Custom made. Private label. Bespoke. Made to order. Tailor-made. The apparel industry hails its abundance of customization services and fulfillment practices by many different names, unsurprisingly, they don’t always mean the same thing. By and large, private label manufacturing involves the creation of a singular range of specialty garments, made to order for a particular brand or label and, crucially, the actual producer never brands the run of garments, always substituting the ”Private Label” of the commissioning brand. Many apparel manufacturers seek to sell customization services like this and are often quick to claim their bespoke service is the best, however few can actually deliver a true private label product to market because private label is notoriously difficult to execute well. And, as you no doubt already know, execution is everything when it comes to private label customization and fulfillment.

One of the principal difficulties with private label services is built into the manufacturing model which this becomes obvious when dealing with so-called private label manufacturers who frustrate client’s needs in an effort to stick to a cookie-cutter model of production. For most, any deviation from an already established product line means an additional expense, additional production time and additional overheads which need to be bundled into the price. The net result is the client doesn’t get what they need and each deviation from the factory’s ”cookie cutter” simply bastes them with an additional expense until this so-called ”Private Label” exercise becomes too expensive to see through. Ironically, in the current climate of ”customize everything” where even the biggest brands like Nike and Adidas are allowing the consumer to customize a singular retail item, it is very difficult to stay competitive and indeed relevant in the private label space and, although many manufacturers will roll out the marquee and call themselves a private label supplier, few can actually deliver the goods when it comes to fulfillment.

SpectraUSA Private Label Custom Spectifications
SpectraUSA Private Label Custom Spectifications

From SpectraTees first foray into custom specification manufacturing it was clear that a new model would be needed to keep pace with the excellent fulfillment promise that SpectraTees had already earned in the industry. The creation of a private label studio and production methodology took a great deal of time to execute and, from its first days as a humble apparel design skunk-works it was clear that the team would have to tear down old, established ways of doing things and build a new model around three core criteria: Flexibly, Quality and Fulfillment. And these remain the core criteria of SpectraTees’ made-to-order service to this day, where the SpectraTees team works closely and flexibly with clients to ensure their vision is carried through into the final product, staying safely away from the blunt cookie cutter thinking of yesteryear and the default method of converting the client to purchasing already inventoried dead-stock. For Spectra the pursuit of quality is what drives everything and this is easily the hardest aspect of private label customization work to get right. Where most manufacturers fail at private label is in the uncertainty of creating a new garment or range, forcing them to leave their tried and tested inventory and production methods. When SpectraTees first built their private label skunk-works it was a design and delivery experiment which rapidly evolved into a focused and flexible production model designed to address the core issue of private label manufacture: How to ensure there was no drop-off in quality from garment creation to fulfillment which was so obvious in private label delivery from even the biggest players in the game.


SpectraUSA Private Label Contrasting Sleeves & Pockets
Left: Detail of a contrasting charcoal pocket on a red bi-blend 3050 shirt; Right: Detail of a contrasting pocket and sleeve combination in a 100% cotton 30 singles specification.

From Skunk-works to Private Label.

SpectraTees private label services came of age early on in the history of the business and have formed a vital aspect of the production process for some time, so much so that the entire manufacturing process was built around a vertically integrated model which could literally turn on a dime and work around private label requirements which did not match up with run-of-the-mill production specifications. All of this means that, at its core, SpectraTees production model is one which strongly favors private label manufacture and specialization-aiming to deliver on the fulfillment of custom private label garments, even those with low-run requirements. But so much for what goes into private label production and manufacturing, what sort of elements can you leverage in a SpectraTees private label order?

Private Label Components: Time to Dye.

Where most manufacturers cling to their cookie cutters and tremble with fear at the words ”Private Label,” SpectraTees private label skunk-works embraces experimentation and variety. Their dyeing and finishing possibilities alone speak to the range of creativity which is part and parcel of the Spectra Private Label deal.

The old experimental skunk-works which evolved into the core of Spectra’s private label engine experimented extensively with dyeing, washes and finishes. The results of all of this research and development can be seen in the established and respected unisex garment dyed range, the ”Massimo,” with their exemplary finishes and exclusive-to-SpectraTees palette of colors.

SpectraUSA Private Label Custom Dyeing & Finishing
SpectraUSA Private Label Custom Dyeing & Finishing

The Massimo range of unisex garment dyed t-shirts began as a design experiment in high-end street-wear which was built to answer one question even the most respected brands in the apparel industry had failed to answer: How do we replicate the buttery-smooth feeling of our favorite worn-in t-shirt without having to first wear it and wash it for years? Put another way, how could we make a new thing feel like it had been worn-in, loved-up and softened by time, without actually wearing it out and destroying it through a destructive and disingenuous ”aging” process. The resulting Garment Dyed Massimo t-shirts which Spectra created are a testament to what can be done with great American design sensibility, coupled with a little midnight oil, some elbow grease and a desire to make a premium, in-demand high fashion item which was both affordable and luxurious.

But garment dyeing was just one offshoot of this development and, as dyeing processes go Spectra now hosts an astonishing array of options in their private label quiver; from acid washes, through mineral and crystal washes, bombard washes and straight-forward garment and pigment dyes. This kind of versatility allows Spectra to transform existing inventory as well as newly designed garments into radically different, unanticipated pieces. It’s a little like being given the keys to Pablo Picasso’s studio and actually having him on hand to help you to mix the colors, hold the brush and set the scene.


SpectraUSA Private Label Custom Dyeing & Finishing
Left: A 50:50 cotton/poly tee after acid washing to confer a “lived in” finish. Right: Detail of the same garment, note the edges are worn and soft but care is taken not to destroy the garment through the washing process.

Private Label Components:

Beyond colors, washes, dyes and finishes private label opens up the possibility of entirely fresh takes on staple designs. Plain white tees with black ribbing on the necks”ÛÏor black ”èÏringers’ as they are know in the industry”ÛÏare one example. Contrasting five point pockets, or even contrasting pockets and sleeves are another. The ability to take the basics of t-shirt construction and design and manipulate them to fit a specific project or design specification”ÛÏfor example, creating a raglan for tactical use, or a specialist t-shirt which must be Berry Amendment compliant to meet Department of Defense (DoD) standards. This is this kind of private label thinking and production work which distinguishes SpectraTees and showcases the power of their very successful vertically integrated production model.

Private Label How to:

Creating off-spec custom garments for special projects with SpectraTees is a simple process which the design team have down to a fine art. With this said, there are a few key questions which are important to have answered for yourself before undertaking a special custom-run apparel project.

1.How many garments will you be making?
This is the best starting point to begin a negotiation about getting private label items started. The ”run” as it is called is the principal criteria for any production facility and, SpectraTees prides its ability to create custom private label t-shirts with low runs for almost any need.

2. What is the design?
Secondary only to the question of how many private label items you need is the not inconsiderable matter of what do you need? Contrasting pockets? Ringers? Specialized dye work? Unusual finishes? SpectraTees’ private label access allows you the flexibility of stepping into the design studio and opening up a can of possibility for you project. Key to this however, is the client’s ability to answer the question what do you want to create? It seems to remain the only private label that SpectraTees can’t answer. Before engaging Spectra’s private label service, think about what you want to do and then work with the team to make your vision a reality.

3. What’s the deadline?
Custom work demands specialized attention and a re-jigging of existing production systems to accommodate these demands. As mentioned before SpectraTees specializes in this process and simply has the fastest turn-around time in the industry for private label and custom t-shirt production. However, these things still take a little time and it is important to plan ahead to allow for a small window to allow for Spectra to deploy its quality production engine accurately and precisely for you.

4. What are the non-design specifications?
An often overlooked aspect of private label work, this can be crucial to the manufacturing and design process. For example a Department of Defense contractor might require a range of tactical t-shirts which need to be made in the USA to meet the Berry Amendment or, similarly, they might need to be NAFTA compliant and their production houses must meet certain criteria. With SpectraTees’ exemplary production facilities, dye houses and American made yarns there are a range of possibilities to explore for any project and pocket book.

For more detail on SpectraTees Private Label t-shirt design and production give your representative a call or contact SpectraTees directly.


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