One tried and tested way to find out what to offer your fashion customers

Consulting the fashion experts.

If you’re a textile screen printer you can sit and wait for your customers to approach you or you can approach them. For instance, if you have fashion retail customers you can be proactive by showing them samples of fashion trends which may then translate into orders for your shop.

But as a Canadian printer how do you do this? How do you gain insight into what is coming down the T-shirt fashion pike? Here’s one idea that a shop used successfully year after year . . .

Round up a couple of people from your target market, say teenage relatives, and take them to California or some other fashion-leading market and tour the cool stores. Turn them loose and take note of what they flip over. If they declare something to be, “like amazing!”, buy it.

Naturally choose your “consultants” carefully. Your computer-nerd niece isn’t going to be much help pointing out cool stuff. You need fashion-aware kids who represent the broader fashion market — remember this exercise is about clothing, not calculus.

Bring back the selected items and use them to generate ideas. Produce samples and show them to your retail customers. Get them excited. Make them reliant on your input.

Before you dismiss this idea as too expensive, how about combining it with a trade show attendance, which you should be doing anyway? Think about it.