Building a One-Stop Shop in LA
He’s known as Charlie from Brooklyn. And despite his 30-plus years in Southern California, Charles de Torre’s accent gives him away as a native New Yorker.
Some also refer to him as a mad scientist who can dream up new ways to print, embroider and embellish apparel.
But De Torre’s actual title is vice president of sales and product development for Los Angeles–based TSF Global. Founded nearly 20 years ago with one silkscreen machine, the company has grown to add sublimation printing, embroidery, heat transfer, rhinestone and nailhead embellishment, flocking, and glitter.
“If you are in T-shirt business, you can’t just do one element,” De Torre said.
Among TSF’s new developments are a patent-pending photo-realistic embroidery process and a sublimation process for printing denim. “I developed an ink that stays in denim—it doesn’t wash out,” De Torre said.
TSF also offers cut-and-sew knits for full-package production and contract work.
Based in a sprawling compound south of downtown Los Angeles, TSF primarily works with larger brands and retailers and can handle the large production runs. There are about 70 employees who produce apparel for well-known brands such as Guess, Abercrombie & Fitch and Urban Outfitters. The company maintains a small cut-and-sew operation in-house for “samples and dupes and emergencies,” De Torre said. And TSF has five Mimaki ink-jet printers for samples and small runs, he said.
“In 20 minutes, we could be sitting here in a meeting and I could bring you a sample,” De Torre said.
Turn times for production depend on the size of the order and the process, but De Torre said the company aims to deliver most orders in one or two weeks.
TSF’s advantage is its expertise, its scale and its flexibility.
“We can fold, tag and bag [an order] or just QC it,” De Torre said. “If you buy blanks, we’ll print them. If you want us to make the blanks, we will. For sublimation, give me your artwork and we’ll get it done. We’re totally self-contained—like a one-stop shop.”
Despite its advantages, the company still finds itself competing for business against overseas factories.
“People want made in USA, but they want it as cheap as China,” De Torre said. “Believe it or not, you can come pretty close.”
Plus, TSF’s customers get the benefit of the company’s mad scientist.
“People know me as Charlie from Brooklyn, the mad scientist,” De Torre said. “I’ve been 32 years in this business in downtown. I’ve been around the block.”
For more information, call (310) 428-2923.