2013 October 2

varsity hoodieChoosing a hoodie for yourself is tough enough – zipped or unzipped, loose fit or skin-tight, pouch or no pouch …? Choosing for a group or team is even more difficult.

Here’s our guide to the best way to choose a hoodie.

Before you begin:

1.    Obtain the right information – get those involved to make basic measurements (waist, hip, chest, neck and arm length) and supply them to you, so you can be sure that the hoodie you choose has the right range of sizes.
2.    If you’re buying for a club or society, check the rules – some places have strict limits on what you can and can’t do.
3.    Check the budget – the more colours you have printed or embroidered, the more hoodies will cost.

Now start your choice process:

1.    Make a shortlist of colours – neutral is best unless you’re sure everyone in the group will be happy with pink or banana yellow!
2.    See if you can try on garments from that manufacturer – each company varies and it helps a lot with sizing to know if they run big or small, relaxed or tailored.
3.    Ask your printer for samples if you’re not sure what you’re doing.
Ale-House-T-Shirt-Fail4.    Check, check and double check and then get somebody else to check – think about how your hoodie will look in different situations … it’s so easy to have an epic fail!
5.    Make a shortlist of your final colours and designs – no more than three, preferably just two.
6.    Invite those involved to vote. Go with the majority even if you think they are wrong – it’s more important that people are comfortable and confident than that they have a stunning hoodie … you will probably get your way next time, if they are happy this time.
7.    Place your order. Wait impatiently for it to arrive.
8.    Look great in your new hoodies!


2013 April 16

SG_Mens_TShirt_53_705The answer is simple, but it’s not always what we do. The first thing is not to do any of these:

1.    Shop online at the end of a day of real life shopping. It’s called ‘desperation shopping’ and while women do it after they’ve failed to find anything in the bricks and mortar shops they want to buy, men tend to do it the night, or a couple of nights, before they need a new top, having left it until the last moment to put in some effort. In either case it leads to a desperate attempt to find ‘something’ that is acceptable, and it nearly always leads to disappointment.
2.    Shop because you’re bored or have been let down. It’s called compensation shopping and women do it most – buying something cute just to cheer themselves up. While the process works at the time, the chosen garment usually disappoints on arrival.
3.    Shop in the dark. Seriously! The tendency to buy garments from a small screen in a darkened room late at night is reckoned to be causing nearly a fifth of all returns to online clothing retailers – it’s partly because our eyes are tired at the end of the day so we don’t see as clearly as we should, and partly because screens are daylight balanced but our body clocks by evening are night balanced by circadian rhythms so our eyes can actually distort the colours on the screen. The only time it’s okay to buy at this time of day is when we’re buying black or white garments.

Instead

1.    Buy in daylight. Or get your computer to balance itself to your circadian rhythms with a programme that adjusts colours according to the sunset time in your region.
2.    Check the small print to find out what the deal is with returns and whether there is a bulk buy discount that could get you free postage or some other good deal.
3.    Sign up for mailings and alerts from your preferred online retailers – such deals often save a lot of money for the consumer and being aware of them in good time can help you plan your spending effectively.
4.    Be sure of your size. Not clothing size, as that varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but your actual body size – and recheck it every six months as even the slimmest of us will change shape in winter as we exercise and eat differently. Get a friend to help you measure your chest, arm length, waist, hips and inside leg – this allows you to assess your real size against the dimensions of the clothing advertised online.


2013 January 17

SG_Mens_Hoodie_74_384If 83% of teenagers now own a smartphone, it’s natural to assume that they do most of their shopping online. Yes – and then again – no.

While Britain as a whole spends £6.58m every hour online shopping, teenagers are still one of the least likely groups to buy clothes online, for complicated reasons.

1 – teens shop as a herd or pack – it’s important to get to the High Street or mall and be with your mates to chose clothes
2 – teens trade clothes a lot – so often they are buying something that needs to have crowd appeal, and that means getting their friends to try the garment on too
3 – teens like to be different – that means that shopping in any way that’s approved of by their parents is automatically out!

So how does a parent encourage teenagers to the most for their clothing budget?

•    Encourage dual shopping – they can go to the shop to try on clothes and then make their actual purchase online, having used comparison shopping to find the best deal for something they already know suits them.
•    Remind them that click and collect means they can pre-order a T-shirt and try it on in the shop without have to necessarily buy it. Often if a teen goes to town for a specific purchase they come back with more money in their pockets than if they go haphazardly to look for ‘something cool’.
•    Coupons, vouchers, BOGOFs and free delivery all make online shopping enticing to cash-strapped teens because their friends don’t need to know they bought from the bargain basement.
•    Most teens need some kind of part-time job and encouraging them to find one that has a uniform can save a massive amount of wear on their personal clothing, so it lasts longer and has more appeal to them because they haven’t been wearing it to work.


2011 December 28

Apparently Americans will return 10% of their Christmas gifts this year and the breakdown is fascinating. 62% of returns will be clothing and shoes that don’t fit properly or aren’t considered ‘suitable’ by the recipient. Not even close, by comparison, is the 16% toys, games and hobby supplies that will be returned and exchanged, closely followed by 14% returns in consumer electronics.

So what can you do to avoid being the giver of an unwanted gift or being lumbered with something you don’t want?

First, if you’re not sure about the item you’re buying, ask about the retailer’s returns policy – some online retailers have a brilliant exchange system for gifts, others charge a fortune in return postage – be sure that it’s possible to return or get a refund on an unwanted gift item so that the recipient can get something they do want.

If you’re the recipient, you may wish to ask the giver of an unwanted present for the receipt – it’s tricky but if you know them well and are willing to explain why (I already have one, it’s a size too small/large, I don’t wear T-shirts that colour etc) it can be done tactfully. Saying ‘I hate it and will never wear it’ may not get you the receipt, in fact, it may ensure you don’t get many more presents, so run your reasoning by a third party before launching into your request!

Always bear in mind that if they buyer didn’t pay cash, your refund may take the form of a gift token or voucher or for some stores, you can only get a refund onto the card that was used to make the purchase.

If you can’t exchange or refund, you can try selling your unwanted item on eBay – there are fee free weekends where the bulk of items on offer are unwanted gifts. Alternatively you can try for a swap – if it’s worth less than £50 lots of local papers allow you to put in a free advert, or even just give it away to a charity shop or online through sites like Freecycle, Greencyle or Freegle, in the hope that karma will deliver a free item that you want at some point in future.


2011 November 25

In the past year, Indian shoppers have got into buying clothing online in a big way. The division by gender is around 70% male to 30% female, with retailers focusing on social media to reach out to women who are a growth market for all forms of retail in India. Global clothing companies are rushing to get into this market, especially to bring their retail expertise to many customers who live in small towns, villages and the hamlets or rural India.

Casual apparel has the second highest seller online in India: ahead of books and DVDs. India’s ‘internet population’ has moved into e-commerce with ease: the nation has around 10 million online shoppers, a market that is growing at 40-45%, compared to the global rate of around 8-10% growth. eBay India retails a garment every seven minutes – many of which are sports shoes and clothing with Adidas and Reebok featuring highly in the popularity stakes.

Children’s wear is also a rapidly growing market with Indian mums investing in clothes and shoes, along with feeding bottles, buggies and toys. Menswear is growing too:one company that sells work shirts at under 900 rupees each has sold 2,500 shirts since it launched in August and is expecting to sell 5,000 collared shirts a month in 2012.

Personalised workout clothing is a big seller, with monogrammed hoodies and polo-shirts being a regular purchase by individuals and as presents or to commemorate work events such as promotions or anniversaries, which are popular celebrations in Indian culture.


2011 September 5

It’s the time of year when teenagers migrate to their new homes: student dorms, digs, shared flats and other accommodation where they will live (and maybe learn) for the next few years.

New students are easy to spot: they arrive laden with possessions and with Mum and Dad in tow – some have packed the family cars to the roof, others have even hired a van to help them move in, but how useful is all that equipment?

This year it seems there are fewer flat screen TVS and smaller cases of new clothing as the recession continues to bite. Vast amounts of new stationery have been purchased though: retailers report good sales although all more towards the ‘essentials’ than the ‘luxury’ end of the market.

In the USA, students (and their parents) are expected to spend $808 on clothing, electronic items and furnishings for their first year of college life in 2011 and Edinburgh University reckons students should budget on spending around £13 a week on clothes.

All students are looking for ways to stretch their budgets and seeking out good deals and saving money on college clothing can help them, and their parents, to make the best of the money available.

Ensuring that a student has a sensible coat and boots that will keep them warm and dry in a climate that may be unfamiliar to them, and summer clothing that can double as simple sportswear all help save money on the long run.

Choose T-shirts that can be worn to the bar or to play a game of football, and polo-shirts that double up for seminar attendance, cinema trips and attending interviews for part-time jobs to boost the budget. Ensuring the student has lots of socks and underwear can really help them save money on laundry (and maybe even mean they don’t save up all their dirty washing to bring home with them) and some parents are buying in bulk so that they can replace stained or shredded T-shirts when those rare visits home occur. It means that they can be sure their child has clothing that coordinates together and is easy to wash and wear.

Don’t let your new student take a printer to college until they’ve investigated the costs of printing on campus – with student union cards, many colleges and academic libraries can print reports and papers more cheaply than the student can.


2011 April 27

Have you ever had that experience where you see a fantastic item in a shop window and yet when you try it on, it just doesn’t look good on you? Most of us have been through that disappointment and it’s one of the things that can make shopping online quite stressful – bad enough to feel the let down when you try something on in the shop, but so much worse to feel it when you’ve ordered something and had it delivered and then have to send it back.

The answer is to put in a bit of research first. There are so many different ways of sizing clothes (even the New York Times can’t work it out) that it’s good try on some of the clothes from major brands to see how they fit you – that helps you choose the right size when you shop online.

Then look for an online retailer who’s been around for a while – there are loads of fly-by-night scamsters, often selling fake clothing, who vanish before any disgruntled customer can get to them to ask for a refund, so companies who have been selling online for several years have normally ironed out their customer service and are able to offer excellent advice: look out for numbers for advisers you can call to talk through your decisions – you may not need to use them but the fact that they exist is a positive sign. Google the company and see what others have said about them – that helps you work out which are the genuine long-term retailers who care about customers and selling really good clothing online.

Check delivery systems carefully, many small sites deliver only within their own national boundaries – and look at the delivery costs because often you can make a substantial saving if you shop with a friend and get a bulk discount or reach the ‘free delivery’ level.


2010 December 10

If you’ve ever tried to make a Christmas spending budget and stick to it, you’ll know how tough it can be. Here are some tips to help:

Have budgeting goals

One reason we don’t stick to a budget is that there’s no incentive. Saving money is not enough of a reason to keep to our agreed limits. Try to envisage what the money you save will be spent on – do you want a new netbook or the down-payment for a car? If so, keeping the big goal in mind can help you stick to your budget of only spending a certain amount on party clothing over the Christmas season, for example

Don’t apply across the board cuts

Many novice budgeters think that you have to ‘cut all expenses’ but that’s not the case. There are places to cut expenditure: overdrafts, eating out, entertainment, then the  places that you shouldn’t skimp: good shoes, well-fitting clothes, heating etc and finally the places you can make judgements for yourself: posh food or designer clothes? 4 star hotel or budget one?

Be accountable

One reason budgets fail is that you don’t keep track of them. You can do this either with envelopes containing the money you can spend in each category each month. Once an envelope is empty, no more spending in that category until next month. Or by using a simple spreadsheet that connects to your bank account to keep track of what you’re doing.

Have fun

Think about ways you can enjoy your expenditure. Go shopping with friends – even online shopping can be done with friends: order in a pizza and get together to browse an online retailer, placing a bulk order so that you save money on delivery costs by buying in bulk together!


2010 April 8

Don’t take the route followed by a crowd of around 2,000 in Brick Lane, London, this spring! Ten police officers were injured during scuffles between the crowd and the police at the American Apparel casual clothing ‘rummage’, during which three people were arrested. To get a bargain without a criminal record:

Explore the online offerings of your favourite shops – you’ll often find links saying  ‘sale’ or ‘special offer‘ or ‘clearance’ all of which can reveal wonderful clothing at anything up to 75% reduced prices.

While you’re there, seek out any additional discounts on offer for online buyers – these will often be headed ‘promotional code’ or ‘discount code’ or ‘coupon’ and will appear at the checkout stage. If you spot such a box, open a new tab and conduct an internet search for the retailer’s name and the phrase used on the retailer’s site – you might get lucky and find a code that reduces the cost even further.

Double up and more by checking the relationship between order number, order cost and delivery cost. You may find that bulk order T-shirts cost only a few pennies more than one alone did, or that by increasing the size of your order until it reaches a few more pounds, you could get free postage – in other words, you might score an entire hoodie or pair of shorts for the same cost as you would have paid for postage.

Use seasonal searches. There are specific times of the year (September for summer wear, for example) that are ideal to seek out bargains. If you’re looking for a winter weight coat, then March or April are great times to be shopping online, while lightweight shirts are often marked down in the autumn and can be bought at bargain prices.


2010 March 15

The old rule about ‘if it looks too good to be true, it probably is’ definitely applies in tough economic times, but many people are being caught out by counterfeit goods, especially clothing.

Until recently, counterfeiting wasn’t as prevalent in casual clothing as in high-end designer and fashion garments, but the global recession means that almost every brand and clothing line is being targeted by unscrupulous cheats, many of whom chose to sell their knock-off clothing online.

You can protect yourself against fake clothing vendors by following a few simple rules:

1.    Buying clothing online can be a fantastic way to save money – but make sure you buy through a reputable online retailer. Counterfeiters choose to sell this way because it allows them to stay anonymous and the set-up costs of business online are low, so look for a company with a long history in retail and a good range of the kind of clothing you want to buy. While some retailers specialise in a single brand – especially of more expensive garments such as high quality jackets, shoes and trainers – and are perfectly genuine, an online store selling only one brand can also be a sign that a counterfeiter is using that website to offload fake goods, so be doubly careful.
2.    Look at the details – detailing can often separate real goods from fake ones. On brand T-shirts, for example, look at what the company in question describes as its ‘signature’ or ‘classic’ styling, such as where brand labels are located, stitching styles and cut. Often, even online, you can see where a picture of the goods doesn’t match up to the company’s signature style, such as a garment looking skinny when the cut is supposed to relaxed or roomy, or a label being slightly different in colour, size or shape. Counterfeiters can produce garments that are almost identical to the real thing, but most are just trying to sell similar looking garments as quickly as possible and don’t pay as much attention to detail so you can catch them out by examining photographs carefully.
3.    Ask for references – all good online shops have references and testimonials, but counterfeiters have become good at faking those too! Try googling the company and seeing what comes up: disappointed buyers often vent their fury on consumer sites or in online forums, while satisfied customers of online shops will also tend to enthuse about the good quality of their clothing, the excellence of the service and the speedy delivery. Use these online clues to help you decide where it’s safe to buy.