April '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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important buying decisions for companies, and factors ethicality and value into those choices. Stevens notes that decorators can stay ahead of the curve by paying attention to this gen- erational shift. "With 85 percent of Millennials reporting that they buy 'responsible products whenever possible' (Cone Communications, 2017), it makes a compelling case for being ready for the new, more educated consumers coming of age in the years to come," she adds. FINDING A NICHE With a few elevator pitches and inspiration in their arsenal, a producer will still want to ensure they're offering eco products to the right cus- tomers since these messages and trends won't necessarily be a priority for all their clients. Ste- vens suggests any shop interested in bumping up their eco business start by adding that cate- gory to their lineup. "Being proactive is vital to growing this portion of your business, says Ste- vens. "The most effective way to create demand is to present eco-options to your customers." Moreover, even if a shop has a large stack of clients throughout the country, Brumer stresses that starting at home is also a good strategy for entering the eco-market. "We have found that local businesses are often your best allies," he says. "For example, breweries, restaurants, ac- tivist groups, and even tech companies have an interest in eco apparel." Looking to these niches as a springboard is a great way to get a producer on the path of building up a stack of eco-conscious clients, Brumer suggests. Newman also says that the trend is gaining more momentum, so a shop may find more interested customers than it may have before. "From our statistics, we have 60 percent of consumers (saying) they have purchased or consider purchasing eco-friendly apparel," Newman adds. Since it's more of a specialized category, eco-conscious apparel won't necessarily be an instant revenue generator for shops. It will take some foundational work to source and sell properly. However, with some careful re- search into suppliers and manufacturers, an open ear to what eco-conscious customers are interested in, and the willingness to bring in new products, this category can not only di- versify a shop's offerings, but position them as a forward-thinking business interested in working with clients from a wide swath of categories. PW ECO-CONSCIOUS APPAREL CERTIFIABLY YOURS CERTIFICATIONS TO LOOK FOR FROM ECO-CONSCIOUS APPAREL BRANDS There are a myriad of organizations spearheading sustainability and eco- logical initiatives but here are a few to keep in mind when it comes to apparel. Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): This international organiza- tion upholds a detailed processing standard for textiles made from organic fibers, including cotton. Global Recycle Standard (GRS): The GRS is an international, voluntary, standard that sets requirements for third-party certification of recycled con- tent, as well as social and environmen- tal practices and chemical restrictions. Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC): The SAC features a consortium of retailers, brands, and suppliers, in the apparel, textile, and footwear industries. Oregon Tilth: This non-profit organi- zation focuses on supporting and advo- cating organic food and farming. 6 2 P R I N T W E A R A P R I L 2 0 1 9 continued from page 45 Left: Many large-scale apparel manufacturers are pursuing ecologically-sound methods of production like using biomass as an energy source. (Image courtesy Hanes) Right: Amongst other niches and demographics, shops can look to millennials as a growing sector interested in eco-conscious garments. (Image courtesy Hanes)

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