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The t-shirt in the cardboard box: square, colourful, bold

A box fit for a t-shirt

ac-label

Packaging that makes the most of the message

The t-shirt in the cardboard box: square, colourful, bold

A box fit for a t-shirt

A friendship spanning decades, a shared passion for fashion and design, and an inspired idea. In early 2015, all of these factors culminated in a joint start-up called AC Label after its founders, Alessandra and Clarissa. The first product from the two women, who are both natives of Rome, was an evergreen classic: a t-shirt. They launched their business in the summer of 2015 with five different models.

Because competition in the fashion industry is so fierce, the co-founders were anxious to differentiate their label from others right from the very beginning. They therefore focused their attention not just on the products, but on the entire brand experience. And here, packaging plays a pivotal role. It is also an area where AC Label dares to be different: every shirt comes in a square cardboard box in a colour chosen to match the statement being made by that particular t-shirt. The boxes all include a white slipcase with a curved edge showing the name and size of the shirt.

ac label Verpackungen

One t-shirt – one statement

"As newcomers to the fashion industry, our greatest challenge was first to get noticed and then to be taken seriously," says AC Label founder Alessandra Meiser. "There are so many brands and manufacturers out there that you have to offer something different if you are to stand out from the crowd. Of course, we do this mainly through the product itself, our t-shirts. The image that you and your product create is very important."

The current and first t-shirt collection from these two young women comprises five unisex models. Each one allows the wearer to make a strong statement. Some are printed in large letters in English for everyone to understand, and some are printed in Arabic or Chinese characters and are less obvious. A translation of the statement in the non-European languages is included on the dart on the inside of the shirt – a fun detail which illustrates that there is more to the five shirts in this first collection than their smart appearance.

The statements on the models all originate from Alessandra and Clarissa. They both worked closely with a designer to create a variety of different ways of printing them on the t-shirts. "We want to say something about social issues. There are, of course, countless ways of doing that nowadays, more than ever before," says Alessandra, "but our chosen medium is clothing, simply because we love fashion."

Alessandra and Clarissa take their social responsibilities seriously. This was an important factor in choosing a manufacturer for their cotton shirts. The company they chose is a member of the Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) and complies with the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), the world's leading processing standard for textiles made from organic fibres.

One statement – one box

Alessandra and Clarissa wanted packaging that matches the message they are trying to send to their customers through their shirts. The two entrepreneurs see it as part of that message, as part of their mission. They were also looking for something else from their packaging: they wanted it to offer the customer a small, unexpected bonus along with their t-shirt – something special. Finally, there was Alessandra's passion for all types of unusual boxes, which meant that they did not need to think too hard about type of packaging – it would have to be a stylish cardboard box. At least that is how German Brodbeck, CEO of Ebro Color and manufacturer of the box, saw it. "I immediately thought that packaging a t-shirt in a cardboard box was a great idea. The packaging is unexpected and turns a commonplace garment that we all have in our wardrobes into something special, a one-off. With this in mind, we sat down together to find out more about Alessandra's expectations and ideas and to discuss the various possibilities." Alessandra expressed great interest in the ideas and practical solutions put forward by Ebro Color, as did her partner Clarissa. On their working relationship with the packaging manufacturer, she says: "Ebro Color was very helpful in all respects. The input provided by our strategic partner made the process of specifying our packaging a very straightforward one."

Even at a cursory glance it is clear that the final result is out of the ordinary, especially as packaging for a t-shirt: a square (10 x 10 x 10cm) box made of coloured board, with a different colour for each model. The two founders chose a light green box for the "Irreverent Tee", a red one (of course) for the "Lovey-Dovey Tee" and a yellow one for the "Spontaneous" t-shirt. They believe that the colours should suit the product, particularly when they appear on the internet.

All five cartons come with a white slipcase, which is printed on all sides. It provides customer information on size and model, along with a short message from the AC Label founders. It also, incidentally, lists the geographical coordinates of Italy's capital city, a declaration of affection from the two women to the city of their birth. The slipcases are made from soft-touch board, which is a perfect match for the box's organic cotton contents. The board that Ebro Color uses for these boxes is FSC certified. In other words, the raw materials are sourced from sustainable forests.

Alessandra and Clarissa are very happy with the packaging of their statement shirts: "The t-shirt and box are a single entity. We would never sell a t-shirt without a box."

A small box – a big success

AC Label started in earnest at the end of the summer of 2015. Prior to that, the t-shirts were sold only through their online store, but according to Alessandra, they always intended to supply selected boutiques. As sales only began very recently, there has not yet been much feedback on the packaging. The comments they have received, however, have been consistently positive. Alessandra says with a grin, "Sometimes our customers seem more pleased with the box than the t-shirt. This shows me that we have been rather successful in implementing our plan to offer customers a small surprise, a cherry on top of the cake."

One box, one t-shirt, one statement. These are the criteria Ebro Color and AC Label used to develop their t-shirt boxes. The packaging consists of a square box made from coloured board with a slipcase made from soft-touch board printed on all sides.

AC Label web site: http://www.aclabelshop.com

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