Today, we’re looking at something a little different. We don’t often cover topics outside industrial design and engineering, but we’re all about the process, the business of design, and particularly about how to successfully bring a product to market. VESTIGE is a shirt brand created by Kyle Derleth and Mark DiMuzio in 2015. They started small, but quickly landed the attention of high-end retailers. With so many t-shirt companies out there, what did they do different? We talked with Mark to find out more about how they started, what tools they use and what goes into creating a successful t-shirt brand.

Where did you guys come up with the idea for Vestige?
I had been pursuing my own line of graphics since I was 17, when brands like Ed Hardy and Monarchy were big. I had the idea of doing a more simplified version and creating a much better graphic tee. The idea of making a cohesive theme, centered around a different historical era, came from my love of history. Then, after a few years of working in fashion, my friend Kyle partnered with me, he worked as graphic designer, had just left his job and wanted to do something different. We began developing the idea together and what we thought a graphic t-shirt line should be and look like. That’s when we took my original idea and developed it into what it is now.

Designs inspired by history, influenced by modern art.

Of all the t-shirt brands out there, what sets you apart?
We create a cohesive collection of graphics rather than an individual graphic as one offs. What that means is we release different series each centering around different eras of history – our current series we have running are Young West and Uncharted. Young West explores the early american frontier and westward expansion and Uncharted centers around piracy in the Caribbean and maritime culture. Also, we don’t use blanks, but cut and sew all our shirts in downtown LA using organic 40’s cotton and then garment dye them for softness and less shrinkage.

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What did you do during the launch that landed you into Nordstroms and more exposure?
My background was in wholesale so I had the contacts for Nordstrom, but no relationship with them. Honestly, all it took was a phone call and sending a strong linesheet. After they saw our designs, I think they realized the niche we were trying to fill in the market so they requested samples. We put together a nice presentation for them along with our samples and that was it. They tested us out online and then after doing well decided to put us in all doors. Also, a great turning point for our brand was going to the fashion tradeshows where we were able to get in front of major department stores like Bloomingdales and the Japanese market like Isetan.

What tools (software, hardware, etc.) do you use in the design of the shirts?
As we grow as designers and a brand we really enjoy exploring different ways to create our art and use different mediums. For our newest series we’ve been exploring acrylic inks, and watercolor. There are so many different things you can do with them to create different wearable effects. We then use Photoshop/Illustrator to compliment and transform our original artwork.

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How has Shopify and NuOrder helped Vestige succeed?
When we started we weren’t sure what platform we were going to go with. It was a debate between Squarespace and Shopify. Shopify is a much more robust platform for analytics and allowed us to add some key features that Squarespace doesn’t have yet in the area of e-commerce. NuOrder is our B2B platform and provides an automated experience for us and our wholesale accounts to place orders which allows us to focus on what we love; designing and brand building.

What do you use for printing and fulfillment?
All our printing is done in downtown Los Angeles with some of the top fashion screen printers. They specialize in water base inks which are important for us as it gives our product that soft no-hand feel and premium quality. We work closely with them to sample all of our designs before doing production runs. Our warehouse is in Downtown LA as well, they are omni channel and can handle all our orders from boutiques, major department stores and e-commerce under one roof, which provides fast speed to market.

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Author

Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.