The Cincy Apparel Story

A Company Built on Technology, Integrity and Quality.

Why does ordering custom t-shirts need to be so hard?

This is the question that our founder, Chris Swain asked himself back in 2008 while ordering t-shirts for a startup company. Chris’ company needed an order of 200 shirts and it was like pulling teeth to get anyone to call or email him back. He knew there had to be a better way to order custom t-shirts and to automate the process.

After 2-3 days of calling all around town, someone finally agreed to print his t-shirt project. The company claimed that it would take two weeks from start to finish. Artwork was submitted and two weeks later, no shirts. Two weeks turned in to three weeks and a month later, Chris finally had a box of shirts at his office. Unfortunately the t-shirts looked nothing like the artwork he had submitted. The “t-shirt guy” said that it was as good as he could do with the submitted artwork. Chris was left with $1000 worth of t-shirts that he couldn’t give out. Disappointed in the entire experience, Chris decided something needed to be done. 

In 2008, Cincy Apparel was born.

A small building on the corner of Delhi Ave and Greenwell Ave was the location of our first space. We bought a small, 6 Color / 4 Station manual press and decided to put the dark room in the basement. Since basements are dark.. right? Chris and the rest of the crew learned a lot those first few months. It took us almost two weeks to burn our first screen! Youtube videos and a few super patient industry experts helped us get setup and ready. Our first big job was a 2 color imprint on the front and back of 300 shirts. It took us almost two days of printing to finish. That same job would take us about an hour now!

Time to Automate in 2011

Three years of printing every order by hand isn’t fun. We decided that it was time to make a real investment in our business. Cincy Apparel moved all of our printing operations to Reading and bought a automatic screen printing press from M&R. We could now run 500+ shirt jobs in about an hour. A major improvement over the past few years.

Bigger and Better in 2012

Only a year went by and we had already outgrown the building in Reading. With orders stacking up and no place to put pallets of shirts, we needed to expand our operations. We moved to Woodlawn and gained full color Direct To Garment and Embroidery capabilities.

Want a successful company? Buy a successful company!

The success of Cincy Apparel had raised the eyebrows of investors over the years. One group reached out to Chris with a plan to build the next phase of Cincy Apparel. In 2014, Chris sold all of the Cincy Apparel assets to Cartel Holdings. Chris remains CEO and Founder of the company. To this day he has a very active roll at Cincy Apparel, overseeing expansion, sales and operations. Since the Cartel Holdings acquisition, Cincy Apparel has added laser engraving, glassware screen printing and dye sublimation technology to it’s offerings.

Hello Northside. The Home of Cincy Apparel.

In 2017, Cincy Apparel moved all production and sales operations to Blue Rock St in Northside. We increased our production capabilities with a new automatic printer and a larger dark room. Our laser engraving department now has 3 lasers dedicated to glass engraving. We print thousands of shirts each week for businesses and organizations all over the country. Having our sales and production departments in the same building allows for fast and easy communication. It also gives us the ability to process last minute orders. Northside is such an amazing neighborhood, full of culture and art. We are proud to call it home!

Former Delhi and Woodlawn Buildings (2008-2014)

Former Sales Offices (2014)

Current Production & Sales Offices