February '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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3 2 P R I N T W E A R F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 9 in mind if a customer walks in knowing the vibe they're looking for or if shops need some help guiding prospects to the right solution. When it comes to go-to colors, anything heather, muted, garment-dyed, pigment- dyed, and sun-washed is going to be an excel- lent bet for properly serving juniors. DECORATION PARTICULARS With the latest hemlines and fabrics top of mind, the next battle is determining what type of decoration method(s) and designs pair well with the overall juniors' look and feel. The embellishment execution is the decorator's chance to shine and bring the garment to life. There's nothing worse than seeing a nice, flowy tank with a print that's weighing it down or a cropped hoodie or crewneck with a poorly executed design. Decorators want to consider the style and fabric when suggesting or approving processes. Think of it like pairing wine with a meal—you wouldn't toss back a light Pinot Grigio alongside the boldness of a roast. The key here is to complement not clash. Jeremy Picker, Amb3r Creative, says water-based inks with pops of metallics are an excellent choice for many of the fabrics popular in juniors' apparel. According to Beasley, water-based inks also pair well with viscose, whereas Sey- mour advises against working with this fabric for two reasons: It's tricky to deco- rate, and it's not the best eco-conscious option. However, the two do agree on one thing—it only makes sense for decorators to use soft-hand plastisols on poly/cotton blends and modal blends. Sublimation is also a good choice for these items. For 100 percent cotton garments, Seymour sug- gests digital printing and discharge inks. For those extra stretchy styles like leggings, Picker reminds dec- orators that a stretch additive is necessary. Whether it's polyester, spandex, cotton, or some other combination, stretchiness gives dec- orators trouble. This is especially true when using embroidery, as it brings up the issue of puckering. Along with all of these considerations, full sleeve or leg deco- rations, subtle embroidery, multi-colored foils, and appliqués are all suitable options for everything from Ts to tanks and pullovers, while bright inks and threads are great for athletic and retro styles. Advice for overcoming decoration challeng- es varies depending on the method. If shops are screen printing a variety of different gar- ments from flowy racerback tanks to bulky crewneck sweaters, it's essential to keep squeegee, squeegee pressure, and mesh count in mind. "Printers need to consider this (fabric density) and make the needed adjustments to keep ink from completely saturating the fabric and soaking through the garment," says Beasley. Additionally, lightweight fabrics and poly blends require dryer temperature to be turned down. Dye migration also becomes an issue with really high content polyester garments, as well as garment-dyed items. With embroidery, although it's not the preferred method for lightweight garments, Beasley sug- gests a smaller needle and proper backing to avoid tearing during production. More specifi- cally, ultra-thin fabrics like burnout and slub don't take well to embroidery. Scott gives a warning to all decorators stat- ing, "The danger is that if you aren't familiar, you can easily burn the fabric or make the decoration too heavy by using too much ink causing dye migration. If you're embroider- ing, you may end up with excess puckering or needle holes." For this reason, sources stress producers to follow manufacturer's recommen- dations, and even then, a test is always best. So, what rounds out a well-executed juniors' apparel item? Sources agreed that an on-trend fin- ished product heavily weighs on the design. Brum- er says text verbiage, retro graphics, and messages of love and community are popular. Designs that incorporate florals, geometrics, various animals like lions and wolves, popular sayings, 80s and 90s nostalgia, photography, and various pop culture icons, as well as bohemian elements, match up well with juniors' blanks and the interests of the end user. MEETING THE MARK With the constant fluctuation in what the end user wants and what's hot and what's not, it can be challenging to stay the path and offer the right products. Shops can ensure they're meeting the mark with customers by listening to their wants and needs, ask- ing critical questions, and being in-tune with market trends. Some customers go into a shop knowing what they want, while others JUNIORS TRENDS Cropped hoodies and T-shirts, both long and short sleeve, continue to be a mainstay in the juniors' ap- parel marketplace. (Image courtesy PIMA APPAREL)

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