April '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 9 A P R I L P R I N T W E A R 4 5 Multiple companies are now offering eco-apparel at an affordable price- point. (Image courtesy Hanes) sarily a deal breaker, but there have been recent issues with offshore cotton sources, particularly in Uzbekistan where the government uses state-run programs, and, in some instances, forced labor to har- vest the crop ( As the apparel manufacturing industry has notoriously been a wasteful sector of the global economy, seeking out companies who strive to conserve water, use less-volatile wastewater treatment pro- cesses, and make efforts to lower their overall energy consumption can all help a shop get on the eco-conscious path. Many apparel companies now have a dedicated person who heads up sustainabil- ity and ecological initiatives, so a shop interested in carrying eco- goods can usually get specific information from this individual, or through reports generated by that department at the company. SELLING IT Like anything a shop carries, having a story or pitch to back up a product they're trying to sell will help a producer when offering that product to customers, especially with something like eco-con- scious apparel. While some manufacturers have developed more price-conscious eco-wear, many blanks in this category still come at a slightly higher price point than standard garments and ac- cessories, and that can present a challenge for decorators. Parties suggest that decorators can sell eco-conscious apparel on a few key talking points: Supply chain transparency. Fox notes that with some lines, a shop can point out that this is a garment that's been given the utmost at- tention to detail every step of the way. "The core of our approach to this, and this has been a kind of a decades-long approach, is not so much on the specific product but on the process itself," says Fox. If a shop is dealing with a brand that oversees everything from cot- ton harvesting to yarn dyeing, all the way up to cutting, sewing, and finishing, they can share this intricate supply chain with the customer. Similar to cotton harvesting, many eco-conscious apparel companies operate at least a part of their manufacturing within the U.S., helping to bolster the idea of a quality product made under fair labor practices. Higher perceived value for the end user. Generally, the quality of eco-goods will be higher, giving cause for a slightly higher price. "We are finding that more customers are looking for retail-quality promo items, and eco-apparel and accessories often offer the ideal solution because, in many instances, they are built to have a longer lifecycle than a commodity product," Stevens adds. Tuning in to a new generation. In all industries, the generation once disparagingly referred to as Millennials is now evolving into a viable sector of the economy. This emerging demographic makes continued on page 62 Decorators can focus on the quality and attention to manufacturing detail eco-apparel comes with when explaining why it carries a slightly higher price tag. (Image courtesy Royal Apparel)

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