What's the Problem?
There's a common practice in the apparel industry where brands either remove or cover up the original manufacturer's product labels. As we begin to offer more cotton and casual apparel, we wanted to be transparent on our practices and share some insight on this process.
Many companies choose to relabel products to avoid two main funding requirements associated with running a custom apparel inventory program: production costs and inventory investment.
Custom production of a brand's own blank jerseys, such as any of our in-stock VC apparel, is prohibitively expensive and requires a significant amount of expertise.
To start manufacturing your own apparel line from scratch, you must develop patterns, source fabrics, and go through a rigorous design/testing process (we estimate this at ~$2000/style).
Read more about this in our recent post on developing VC's cotton line
Next, consider demand: How much fabric should you stock in inventory for future orders, and how many units per style/colour/size should you pre-produce in order to quickly deliver orders to customers?
This means $12,000 - $15,000 worth of fabric rolls just to get started - significant resources waiting for orders, when other companies can direct those resources to marketing costs in order to best capture market shares.
For example, given a product line of four styles (a short sleeve and a long sleeve in two different fits), $20,000 - $23,000 in investment is required before having produced a single unit for sale.
Fun fact: the cost of FlexLight material in a single jersey is higher than the completed product cost for a short sleeve jersey offered in our Pivot line.
Even more important than input and production costs, are the costs associated with inventory. Inventory is a tricky business, and requires frequent updating based on market trends. We've also developed a new system during the Covid slowdown!
We currently hold 200 to 1000 units per style in our warehouse, in each of the ten styles which constitutes our In-stock Uniform collection; most of these are produced locally in Toronto at a relatively high cost. You can do the math... it's a heavy investment.
The Benefits of Relabeling
Now imagine logging into a supplier's website and being able to order a decent quality jersey – available in over 20 colours and any quantity – and have it delivered the next day, without any of the upfront investment we just described. All that's required to make it appear to be produced by your own brand is either transfer a label over the original, or tear it out/sew your own, and likely add an exterior branding label too.
It's pretty smart, we get that. It's a significantly faster option than the 3-6 month product development cycle and the 3-4 week per production run in manufacturing time.
Not to mention that the cost of one of these in-stock short sleeve jerseys ranges from $3-6, depending on style and whether you're in the USA or Canada - 80% less than the cost of a blank VC jersey.
We bet you're now asking yourself, why on earth would you bother going through all of the steps to design and produce your own line when there's this other option available?
For VC, it comes down to our commitment to be transparent in where and how the apparel we offer is made.
How We Label
To be clear, we do offer apparel that is not VC-made. We don't hide that fact, and we ensure that our signature rubber label only goes on products we've designed and produced from scratch.
There's no debating that a $8-15 jersey suits many of our customers' needs, and we want to be able to service them based on their budgets - especially youth programs or leagues ordering higher quantities for players or volunteers.
Take our Pivot short sleeve jersey, for example, which is offered at $8-15, depending on quantity ordered. What we do in this case is a) leave the inside label untouched so customers know what they are getting, and b) apply a woven label to the outside of the jersey so that customers know where they came from.
We're proud to offer products under the Pivot label - they are the best we've been able to source after many years of reviewing options for a balance of quality, availability, options and price. Many players will notice that these are the same jerseys that are relabeled and offered by quite a few apparel brands (often at higher prices).
Why You Should Care
Transparency matters. We're not saying that customers should go one way or another; we believe that folks should order based on their product preference, budget, and timeline.
We also believe that it's important to know how and where, and by whom, the products we all purchase, are made.
We're extremely proud of the products VC designs and offers, and we hope that customers continue to support us by ordering our locally-made, premium product. We also know that we can't be everything to everyone, and that sometimes - like with our recent foray into cotton product development - other larger, better-resourced companies can produce a product that has a higher value ratio (quality for the price).
After all, we want our community to trust the value they receive when they trust us with an order for custom apparel, be it VC or other.