African streetwear is very laidback but cool at the same time. You can create pieces that you mix with other prints or more solid Western cuts. For the V&VI brand, customizing t-shirts is part of our DNA. To be able to achieve those seamless t-shirts our customers love, it is important to shop well and design smart.
I am going to walk you through some of the options you have when you decide to create a business based on an Afritude model.
CHOOSING YOUR FABRIC: Taking into consideration that you will be mixing different fabrics, take the time to ensure your wax fabric is the kind that does not bleed. Creating genuine wax prints involves a lot of dyeing, that is why you are not supposed to wash your garments so often. Taking this into consideration, for our t-shirts, we usually use blended wax, the kind that has a little bit of polyester. This serves two purposes:
- When you end up washing your t-shirt, the wax will not bleed and stain the main fabric, thus ruining your garment. Blended wax employs a different technique where the prints are not handmade, using less dye in the process. We strive to ensure the integrity of our t-shirts and produce long lasting garments.
- Using blended wax ensures that the fabric will not shrink later and ruin the t-shirt. The saying goes “do not put new wine into old wineskins” and “do not sew a piece of unshrunk cloth onto a new garment.” Doing so will only cause damage. Imagine using a fabric that alters after one wash; your t-shirt will become worthless.
CHOOSING YOUR T-SHIRT: Depending on the purpose you want to achieve different fabrics will produce various results. Cotton is very natural and breathable, and easy to alter, but more expensive. If you decide to work with it, the final cost of your t-shirt will be more expensive than the average cost. If you work with blended fabrics, pay attention to what the blend is. Fabrics with elastane or any kind of stretch will be more difficult to alter as you need to not only take into account the nuance of the stretch, but also the non-stretch wax fabric that will be added to it. Doing this requires a little more skill. Our t-shirts are usually a cotton-poly blend, which mimics the wax fabric we use. With careful attention, we are able to customize them and create various seamless designs.
DESIGNING YOUR PRODUCT: This is a particularly important step. Make sure to draw or envision what the final product will look like before you go about cutting. If you are working with a team, bounce off ideas before you conclude. The t-shirt, wax fabric and design have to complement each other; everything needs to work together. Once you have created your designs and you are ready to customize, make sure you are pinning to know exactly where everything sits. This is necessary whether you are going to use Technique 1 or Technique 2 to create your Afritude t-shirt.
Now, you can go ahead and sew. Focus, pay attention and I am sure you will be proud of your final results and so will your customers. Let me know what your thoughts are….