Printwear

January '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 9 J A N U A R Y P R I N T W E A R 3 9 HOW TECHNOLOGY AND TRENDS ARE CHANGING THE SHAPE OF THE T-SHIRT M I K E C L A R K T he T-shirt is a staple of virtu- ally every apparel category and has changed immensely since its humble beginnings somewhere between the late 19th and early 20th century. It's generally under- stood that the first version of what we now know as the short-sleeved go-to garment cropped up sometime around the Spanish- American War as an undergarment for U.S. Navy recruits. The U.S. Army eventually adopted its version of the shirt and issued a T brandishing the military branch's logo to troops. While early adopters of the T-shirt included people like longshoremen, farm- ers, and miners, the garment has grown in popularity since then. With that popular- ity, evolutions in manufacturing and sourc- ing technology have continued to shift to meet these trends. CHANGES IN MANUFACTURING Even with industrialization, some parts of T-shirt manufacturing continue to be done by hand with large-scale crews of workers heading up cutting, sewing, and dyeing tasks. However, with the advent of automation technology, that's starting to change. One of the main benefits of automation, explains Brad Moxley, Cut- ter & Buck, is that it allows for "lower- price-point goods while still maintaining high labor and quality of life standards." Rather than pay hundreds of workers a low wage and navigate questionable working conditions, companies can in- tegrate automation and reduce their li- ability. Moreover, while the advent of au- tomated manufacturing lines may seem like it diminishes job opportunities for laborers, factories using high-tech systems like robotic machinery demand a skilled workforce paid a living wage. In addition to helping raise the bar for labor practices and standards, evolutions in Organic cottons and recy- cled polyester blends con- tinue to see prominence in today's T-shirts. (Image courtesy Royal Apparel)

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