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Why you should stop branding off the shelf unbranded sportswear

Updated: Sep 17, 2019

Launching a brand isn’t easy. For it to succeed, everything must be spot on and every touch point potential consumer see needs to depict the brand values and strategy. If anything isn’t quite on point, then the whole experience is ruined, and consumers will either fail to engage or won’t come back.

One of the biggest obstacles in launching a brand is the production of the kit. Factories have minimums they want to produce and finding a good, honest factory that will accept your small orders is incredibly difficult. So much so, we think almost impossible.

We pick up lots of start-up brands that have tried to source product directly through sourcing sites like Alibaba and have been stung heavily by factories that accepted their small orders and claim to produce for the big brands. They even have photos of big brands on their website; however, the reality is they are desperate for business, will accept any order and then produce poor quality and fit the order in when it suits them.

Many of these brands end up with product that is months late and they cannot sell due to quality issues such as poor-quality fabric, stitching, unsuitable fabric used on bulk, zips breaking and allergic reactions to the chemicals used to dye the fabric. Shrinking, pilling and dyestuffs washing out has also been experienced.

The alternative to this is working with suppliers who have a very basic range of sportswear using semi technical fabrics you can apply your brand to. You can change the colour, stick your brand in multiple locations and order small volumes and while the service and quality is usually OK, That’s the issue….. OK just won’t cut it.

They may have a slick website and some even have garment configurators that help you “Design” your own “Bespoke” range, but remember, you’re not ordering a car here. You are launching your own brand. You are the car factory and not the consumer.

Can you imagine James Dyson or Steve Jobs buying an off the shelf commodity product and sticking their logo onto it, taking a photo and sticking it on their website in the hope someone will buy it, then love it and tell the world.

It’s not this simple and again we pick up lots of start-ups that have started this way but find they have actually wasted lots of time and money as their brand doesn’t get much traction from the sales they do generate.

The sportswear market is full of choice for the consumer and there are lots of great brands doing a fantastic job. You need to create something that will at least compete with these guys but ultimately offer something different and unique. If you don’t and you offer kit that any other brand can buy, then you simply won’t succeed in attracting a loyal customer base that comes back to you every time they need more kit. You end up with dissatisfied customers that will never return to your site and will never tell their friends about your brand. It will ultimately result in you needing to continually find new customers to sell to and you will only ever receive one order per customer.


If you are serious about creating your own brand, then you need to create something completely unique. Don’t copy, emulate or be heavily inspired by others. Instead create something customers will really love. Something they wear all the time and tell ALL of their friends. Make them a customer for life and in return they will help grow your brand.

At Blue Associates Sportswear, we work with a network of mills and factories that support our start up brands based on the knowledge that we only work with clients we believe in. If we believe in the entrepreneur and work on product that has is unique then we all have a chance in developing a brand that should succeed. The factories and fabric mills we work with support us by lowering their standard MOQ in the hope that the brand succeeds and comes back with larger volumes in the near future.

Get in touch to discuss your unique idea and if you don’t have a unique idea, please don’t opt for the off the shelf, one product fits all. It won’t work.


Oh, and if you are sceptical, ask yourself this- "Name one successful brand that EVER sold rebranded Off The Shelf "bespoke" product"