Our dear friends at Chaosium sell t-shirts and other merch through the international print-on-demand service Redbubble, and we've been inspired to experiment with it ourselves. For many years we have produced all of our t-shirt designs in-house, using an old-school silkscreen press we inherited from our old friend and neighbor Pat Roberts. We have had to stock blank shirts and numerous screens and inks and supplies, which has limited the number of designs and sizes and colors we could offer. Traditional silk-screening is a laborious manual process, hot and messy and tiring. Shirt designs had to be limited to usually just one color, and couldn't really include shades or gradients. By using Redbubble, which uses digital direct-to-garment printing, we now have the ability to make designs more complex, and offer a much wider range of sizes, styles and colors of shirts. It allows us to bring back designs we had to discontinue due to limited space. And on top of that, we can offer designs on other kinds of garments, and on other kinds of products like stickers, magnets, posters, mugs, bags, pillows, clocks, notebooks, etc. Some (though not all) of these products can be produced locally, which means that international customers might have their orders shipped from within their own country, and thereby avoid import duties and the extremes of overseas shipping charges. (Some products are made only in the USA, and so we can't make specific promises in that regard.)
Redbubble prints art on garments of various kinds, but it does not actually manufacture any garments itself. It buys garments (and other products) ready-made from a variety of suppliers all over the world, and in some cases the garments they use are exactly the same ones that the HPLHS has been printing on for years. We ordered a variety of their garments to check the quality and found them to be quite comparable, if not identical, to the ones we would use ourselves. They do use different printing technology than we do in-house, but we believe it is just as stable as the plastisol silk screen ink we use. Different garments produced in different places may have a different feel to them.
There are some garments that Redbubble cannot produce, like the Miskatonic Varsity hoodies, the Tibetan hoodies, the Antarctic Expedition fleece hoodies, and others, including any garment with printing on both the front and back. We plan to continue producing those garments as we have been doing, and they will continue to be available through our regular online store. If our experiment goes well, however, we will probably eventually phase out the in-house production of standard t-shirts. This will give us more room here at HQ to come up with new projects and products, while still keeping shirts available to those who wish to buy them. We have been quite satisfied with the test products we have sampled for ourselves (although we have not directly tested every single thing you can order from Redbubble). We think this experiment will be of benefit to everyone involved.
This Redbubble experiment has nothing to do with the production of Dark Adventure Radio Theatre props or lapel pins or any of the other products we offer. It is primarily a way for us to bring back t-shirt designs we had to discontinue, and add to the range of options available. It is an effort to augment our offerings, not replace them.
We hope you will check out our Redbubble store and pick out something you will enjoy, and we look forward to hearing what you think. There's lots to choose from, so be sure to explore all the options! Since Redbubble will be making and shipping products directly to you, they will be responsible for any customer service issues that might arise, and we won't be able to help directly with refunds or returns on Redbubble items. But Redbubble has been in business for quite some time now, and they have an encouraging track record. We think you'll like what you get. We have, so far.