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Some Of Our Favourite Independent Brands Let Us In On Their Design Secrets

Screen printing for independent clothing brands really keeps our job interesting. It’s extremely rewarding to see someone progress from a small run of their first design to a full blown collection and we love helping facilitate the growth. You may remember our previous post about 5 Ways To Set Your Streetwear Brand Apart From The Rest but what if you don’t have a brand yet and you’re only just taking the first tentative steps on your design journey? We spoke to some of our customers who have managed to successfully launch their own lines by incorporating screen printed garments and asked them:

 What’s the first thing you do when designing a new garment?

“I always start with a drawing of a person styled in the way I want it to look. Then make a sample as soon as possible to see what it looks like in real life and what the fit it’s like. It usually takes 3 to 4 samples and a good amount of testing before I start with the production.”

Ester – House of Astbury

The leggings pictured were screen printed with reflective ink for cycling brand House of Astbury.
The leggings pictured were screen printed with reflective ink for cycling brand House of Astbury.



“Firstly there are a few things to think about when designing a new garment. I have to consider the type of printing process in which the design will be printed (screen printing, digital print, sublimation print etc) as this might affect how many colours I use in a design. Then I think about the layout and composition of a design, whether it’s going to be a standard box print or maybe an all over print. After that I’ll start on the design ideas, sketching thumbnails on paper then choosing the best one to develop. The final design will usually be created using my computer & wacom tablet, most of my finished work is now digital vector art which is great as it means I can scale up the artwork to any size and it will never lose quality or pixelate.”

Helen – Tee and Coffin

Tee and Coffin t-shirt screen printed at 3rd Rail
Impeccably designed jumbo and all-over screen prints help define Tee and Coffin’s signature style.



“After sketching out the basic shape I suppose I start thinking about colour combinations I might want to use to get a better idea of how it will look visually. I also always think about the scale of the print early on, as this helps me decide on the final colour palette.”

Madelein – Mc Indoe Design

All-Over screen printed t-shirt by 3rd Rail for McIndoe Design
Playful patterns and all-over t-shirt prints are a winning formula for McIndoe Designs.



“In technical terms I start off with source photographs and sketches and then develop the ideas in photoshop to perfect them. The inspiration for my designs is very personal and comes from experiences growing up and being inspired by street culture and skateboarding. I have a unique view on culture being a multi-national child and my designs give me an opportunity to explore this in an enjoyable way. If people are feeling what I do – even better. We are still a young brand and there is still so much more that I have to offer as a designer so just keep an eye out!”
Martin – VirtusEstStylus

VirtusEstStylus t-shirts screen printed at 3rd Rail
VirtusEstStylus may be the new kids on the block but their illustrative t-shirt designs are already getting them noticed.



“Inspiration comes from anything like photos of street art, cuttings from magazines, maybe even jewellery we might have found in a vintage shop. The orange for our Ledbury tank top came from a piece of artwork which we brought into 3rd Rail’s studio and they were able to match it exactly. We decided to launch with a small range, so chose three designs we felt worked well together from a wider collection we’d created. Our URBAN vibe is minimal, abstract and a little edgy and we felt they covered this spectrum. However our brand also stands for GILT, so we needed to add a layer of luxe, which meant we needed some gold! 3rd Rail worked really hard to meet our tough requirements and in the end we managed to get the foil to work perfectly. We even discovered some new techniques along the way! It’s been great working with 3rd Rail and we look forward to working with them in 2016.”

Hadrian – Urban Gilt

Screen printed and foiled t-shirts created at 3rd Rail for Urban Gilt
A close up of the Ledbury – Black tank which combines a discharge screen print with foil (left). Edgy style meets luxe in the new Urban Gilt range (right).


If you want to shop the collections mentioned in this post they can be found here: