June '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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6 2 P R I N T W E A R J U N E 2 0 1 9 continued from page 35 corporations with sustainability initiatives, eco-friendly brands, environmental corpo- rations, and beverage corporations are mar- kets where elevated T-shirt options make sense. Brumer adds that RPET blends are an excellent way for breweries to give back, while eco-fibers complement the sustainable movements and positive impact projects that music festivals and artists often pioneer. Davis agrees that specialty Ts can readily be seen within the concert and retail markets today. However, he does note that the possi- bilities don't end there. With varying blends, fabrics, and washes, there's something for ev- eryone. Shops need to be aware of what their customer is looking for, as well as what their customer wants to convey with a garment. Many times, a customer may have some- what of a vision, but they aren't sure of what they want, or they think a par- ticular garment will pair well with a design or message when in real- ity it wouldn't. It is a producer's job to know the right solutions to offer and showcase options that are in line with their cus- tomer's overall brand messaging, and elevated garments are a great place to start to bring added value to a shop. Davis says specialty garments offer an "immediate eye appeal to the consumer" because it's distinctive in one way or another. Combined with the right graphic, he says it's a draw for people. Then, after feeling it, the garment will do the selling. Clark does point out that there is the topic of price point but assures shops that offering a one-off sample and showcasing a finished garment can go a long way in brand messaging. Brumer argues that "specialty apparel helps tell a story." Shops just have to make sure they're selling the right one. Specialty Ts and fabric blends can change a shop's entire customer base and get you in higher margin products and opportuni- ties, according to both Smith and Clark. With the right types of ink and switching up your printing technique, it can open up a world of possibilities. As Clark puts it, "If a customer isn't getting it from you, they're getting it from someone else." PW When screen printing garments that are both polyester and cotton, Smith recom- mends incorporating a soft base additive into the ink. When it comes to tie-dyed Ts, inks adhere to the garment easily, just as if the T-shirt were undyed. For fabrics like hemp, Clark says fibrilla- tion can become an issue. With pigment- dyed garments, there is a higher tendency to bleed. Clark says making sure a good under base is laid down will result in a better print. She also notes that most apparel manufac- turers are aware of the direct-to-garment trend in the apparel decoration industry, making sure Ts have a tight-knit face. MARKET MAYHEM & ADDED VALUE Armored with the tools and insight for cre- ating top-notch specialty Ts, it's essential to familiarize yourself with the markets these garments best serve. All sources agree that specialty Ts fit well into music, festival, and retail realms. Additionally, Brumer adds that breweries, wineries, food co-ops, restaurants, Smith, Dyenomite, points out that shades of black and gray are popular with tie-dye designs right now. For those looking for something more colorful, lavenders, corals, light greens, and pale blues are trending. Clark adds that there's a significant push for different textures within the T-shirt mar- ket. Even if the garment is 100% cotton, the use of slub, washes, and tie-dyes creates texture that provides that specialty element. DECORATION DILEMMAS No matter the substrate, garment, or deco- ration technique, producers are always en- couraged to test out orders, especially when introducing new elements like specialty blends, washes, and dyes. Brumer says many printers opt for using water-based or dis- charge techniques on eco-friendly fabrics, as well as direct-to-garment printing. He also suggests printers use soft- hand plastisol because it can re- sult in a softer decoration for a more affordable price. Depending on the garment makeup, Davis urges printers to keep shrinkage in mind during the curing process, whether that be a heat press or a dryer. Dye migra- tion between synthetics and cotton is also an issue to be mindful of while printing. He adds that "no two tri-blends are alike." With so many working variables and combina- tions of fibers, printers need to be mindful of the issues that may arise. Davis notes that dye migration—when dyes from the fabric make their way into the inks used for print- ing—most commonly occurs with polyester and synthetic fabrics and with garment-dyed Ts exposed to heat. To avoid dye migration and shrinkage, Davis suggests printers use dye-blocking and low-cure inks respectively. Low-cure inks usually fall within the range of 280–330 degrees F. Monitoring dryer temperature, as well as flash time, will also help avoid damaged T-shirts. If shops are working with 100% cotton and specialty blends, Davis warns, "Never switch from 100% cotton production to polyester or poly/cotton production without re-config- uring the entire printing process." Even if a garment is 100% cotton, the use of slubs, washes, and tie-dyes creates texture that provides that specialty element. (Image courtesy Dyenomite) SPECIALTY TS

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