Spreading the joy of reading and literature by designing apparel
How It All Started
Founded in 2009, Out of Print Clothing is dedicated to spreading the joy of reading and literature by designing apparel and accessories such as bags, bookmarks, and bottles. Jeff LeBlanc and Todd Lawton are the co-founders of this one-of-a-kind business. Their friendship began when they met in the second grade. Reflecting on their friendship, Todd said, “Since the beginning, our relationship has been fueled by dreaming about fun ideas together. These conversations typically start with ‘wouldn’t it be cool if…” He continues by saying, “One day (and probably over a beer), we [asked the question] wouldn’t it be cool if readers could experience their favorite books through merchandise in a similar way people show their love for bands, super heroes or sports teams?” That question is how Out of Print Clothing began.
The idea of creating merchandise based on novels stems from LeBlanc and Lawton’s deep love for reading. Being avid book lovers themselves, they knew people loved talking about books as much as they liked reading them. Because of this, Todd Lawton explained that he and LeBlanc “…felt there was a need to make a literary lifestyle brand dedicated to spread the word about books and make books a fashion statement people are excited to wear or carry.”
After coming up with the idea of creating clothing and accessories based on popular novels, it took a lot of work to get their dream into a reality. LeBlanc and Lawton’s very first product was a shirt with the first edition of 1984 by George Orwell. Lawton explains that 1984 was the year he and LeBlanc met, which made it funny that that was the first piece of merchandise they created.
Considering their Customers
To determine which books to put on their shirts, socks, and other products, they consult their customers. To do this, they keep a record of all their customer’s requests on a spreadsheet, it is massive. In addition to reviewing the requests, they follow their instincts to determine if there is a demand.
When considering how to make their merchandise unique, Out of Print Clothing licenses the artwork or carefully designs it internally. Afterall, the products only start conversations if people like them enough to buy and use them. “Readers are clever and fun people by nature,” Lawton said when asked about their specific branding. “We connect to this through our original designs and illustrations to authentically celebrate the nostalgia and novelty of being a bookworm–whether it’s something unexpected like our heat-reactive Banned Books mug that “un-redacts” when hot to reveal titles of books often banned or censored or our cute Book Sloth that encourages readers to slow down and read.”
Copyrights and Contracts
You are probably curious about how Out of Print Clothing handles the rights to create T-shirts and hoodies based off of famous novels. Securing the book’s rights is the most important part about deciding which books to use. If the rights are not available, they do not use the books. Out of Print Clothing always ensures they are doing things “by the book.” They consider that as the most challenging part about their business. Because it is abnormal for a book to have one copyright holder, it makes it so they have to undergo several negations and contracts. Even though this requires extra time and work, Lawton says, “…the extra effort to license sets us apart. We are authentic and because we license and go through the proper channels, our customers know that the authors, artists and publishers who are integral in creating these beloved works are being supported.”
Dedicated to Giving Back
Since they have been in business, Out of Print has made an effort to share the joy and knowledge books can bring to people all over the globe. They have donated books to over “…80 countries, and for every item sold, they donate one book to Books for Africa. According to Messrs. Lawton and LeBlanc, they have given away more than 1.3 million books” in 20 countries. They do this because they understand the value of the written word, that it truly can change lives.
Visit Out of Print Clothing’s website today to see if your favorite book has been made into something you can wear or use. They have created countless items book lovers can enjoy such as: t-shirts, sweaters, necklaces, hats, bottles, children’s clothing, socks, boxers, scarves, pouches, toys, pendants, mugs, matchbox sets and so much more. They are always creating new items for your enjoyment. For example, keep a look out for bennies, which will be available soon!