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Back to Basics

A company's simple yet refined T-shirts are a perfect fit for customers in more than 20 countries.
June 1, 2007
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/180052

Vital Stats>> Greg Alterman, 38, of Alternative in Atlanta
Company>> A premium T-shirt and headwear compan
2007 projected sales>> More than $60 million

Newly fabricated>> Greg Alterman was only 19 when he discovered a basic wardrobe staple that fit him to a T. Designing T-shirts with his college logo and selling them from dorm to dorm was something he excelled at, but it also taught him a hard-knock lesson when he got in trouble for licensing infringement. Alterman smoothed out the wrinkle by going legit and ended up widening his clientele to include campus retail stores.

Tailor-made>> Before long, Alterman felt limited by the basics available to him. "They were too big, too rough, they didn't fit right, they looked horrible on, and they were itchy," says Alterman. "Everything about the [apparel] was what I didn't want, so I went off to create what I did want, and that became Alternative."

Designers, manufacturers and high-end boutiques were also craving the same stylish yet workable staples, so Alterman went all the way to China to find ultrasoft, high-quality, perfectly fitted blank "canvasses" he and his customers could work with. In 1996, Alternative went wholesale with its highly sought-out imports. The company currently sells T-shirts to customers in more than 20 countries.

Sizing up>> Alterman is the artist behind his own constantly evolving masterpiece, which now features a creative product line that stretches the limits of the basic tee, covering shirts, hats and headbands in a wide range of styles. Last April, the company opened its first retail location in Atlanta and has plans for more in Los Angeles, New York City and Tokyo. It just introduced a more consumer-friendly website and will launch an organic T-shirt this month that Alterman promises will revolutionize the garment industry. "It's time for people to know who we are and what we do, what we stand for and what we believe in," says Alterman. "I think the time is right to do this."