January '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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4 2 P R I N T W E A R J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 9 lennials are currently in executive positions, with predictions of that number growing over the next two years. This cor- relates to ethically-made and eco-friendly T-shirts because, as Forbes explains, this demographic prioritizes ethics and values in corporate purchases. "I think if you look back at Rana Plaza,* moving towards a sustainable practice for our people and products is impera- tive," elaborates Knapp. That sustainable practice means buy- ers are looking at an entire supply chain of a T-shirt going all the way back to the fibers. And, she adds, they're willing to pay slightly more for an ethically-sound garment. "Low- priced garments usually mean someone isn't getting paid along the way." In addition to the buyer's shifting mindset in how they make their T-shirt buying decisions, Moxley points to con- tinually evolving global factors. In China, where many large- scale shirt manufacturers operate hubs, the government has committed to improving air and water quality. Because of this initiative, multiple large-scale polyester mills in the country have shut down since they employ pollutive methods, de- creasing the overall supply of traditional polyester. "The new mills that open up to fulfill that demand will have to use new techniques and find ways to keep that pollution to a mini- mum," stresses Moxley. Whether it's new automated technology that improves how a T-shirt is constructed or innovations in textile science that help reduce waste in the overall manufacturing process, parties concur that education on the decorator side is still relevant. "There are a lot of processes for decorating T-shirts now, but if you don't educate yourself, you'll be left behind," says Brown. So even as large-scale manufacturers continue to integrate new types of re- cycled, synthetic fibers, it's almost cer- tain that the T-shirt will continue to be the original promotional garment and canvas of expression for everyone from sports teams and rock bands to historic landmarks and national parks. PW * The 2013 Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh was a structural failure at a site that housed manufacturing operations for multiple large-scale apparel companies. The building collapse resulted in a death toll of more than 1,100 garment industry workers and approxi - mately 2,500 additional laborers injured. To date, it's considered the deadliest garment industry incident in modern history. Hybrid T-shirts that suit both the gym and everyday life maintain pop- ularity in the ath- leisure category. (Image courtesy Citadel Brands) Buyers tend to empha- size the importance of sustainability in modern T-shirts more than in pre- vious decades. (Image courtesy Freeset USA) T-SHIRT TRENDS

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