By Reshmi Kaur Oberoi ( | First Posted: Apr 17, 2013 08:27 AM EDT

Personalized apparel is no longer confined to the kiosks you find in malls. Especially during the '90s, malls across America had little carts outside shops that would print photos of family members and friends onto coffee mugs, pins, heavyweight cotton t-shirts, and even hats. In sharp contrast to the poor quality of the pastel-colored graffiti that makeshift mall shops would airbrush onto shirts, entrepreneurs have developed businesses that produce high-quality personalized attire.


Companies as large as American Apparel offer services to produce individually designed products that range from shirts to totes. Many times group entities such as college dance teams, sports clubs, or community initiatives will utilize services like these so that they are taken seriously by dressing uniformly without wearing your typical stuffy uniform. Some companies create personalize t-shirts that cater to larger groups of people than the aforementioned.


Members of the same faith or residents of the same city can sport shirts that reflect these facets of their lives. Rootsgear is an online custom-designed shirt shop that caters to followers of the Sikh faith. Sikhism, the 5th largest religion in the world and founded in Northwest India has wrongly been mistaken for other faiths in the wake of recent history's events. According to Rootsgear's self-description, their products "create pride and awareness" that "allows you to connect with your roots." While this company's reach is international, other t-shirt companies pride themselves on their local community.


From The Bronx is a company that caters to people who consider the Yankees stadium a place where they too have home-court advantage. The company teams up with local Bronx-based designers who re-create conventional representations of the borough. The art is then manufactured onto clothing. Though From The Bronx (FTB) is a homegrown enterprise, there is no storefront shop in the Bronx where the apparel can be purchased. Rather, apparel is sold online which is also in line with the FTB's conviction: "we strive to push that world-famous Bronx pride to ever higher levels." If you want something to achieve world-fame, a web-platform is most definitely a way to do so.


Not only are t-shirts a unisex cut of clothing but they are also less expensive to manufacture than sneakers. While companies that customize t-shirts primarily attempt to unite a group of people under whatever common banner they identify themselves, these companies also rely on marketing tactics to ensure profit. manufactures t-shirts and accessories, much like the others, however, there inventory changes from week to week. Each week, Sevenly designs t-shirts that reflects a different social cause or charity. For every purchased made, $7 is donated to the charity that is being featured that week. Since the companies' founding in June 2011, over 2 million dollars have been donated to different causes.


Since the hey-day of mall kiosks, apparel customization has become a lucrative business venture. Personalizing apparel was originally intended as the one surefire way to ensure that you and someone else won't be wearing the same blouse. Yet, today, personalizing clothing items has evolved into something more. A simple t-shirt can help shed light on social issues you believe in.

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