June '20

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G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M 2 0 2 0 J U N E G R A P H I C S P R O 5 5 synthetic fibers, and the blended fabrics al- low for unique appearances in color or tex- ture that's more expensive to achieve than if the fabric is only 100% cotton." Edwards also points to poly/cotton blends as a popular choice, particularly heathers or blends that incorporate slub, a fabric with slight lumps in the texture that has a lighter, airy quality to it. Tri-blends, typically con- structed of cotton, polyester, and rayon, also continue to trend, she adds. WHAT TO OFFER When it comes to offering customers choic- es on T-shirt selections, Edwards suggests shop owners play it safe, at least in the near- term. With the impact from COVID-19 on everything from people's personal to financial health, "…it's challenging to an- ticipate what customers will want as their lives evolve into more risk-averse behaviors and attitudes," she notes. "The safest option for any shop is to stick to the classic options in silhouettes and fab- rics, which have always proven to be reces- sion-proof," Edwards elaborates. She recom- mends shops keep fabric swatches of core colors like black, white, and heather gray, so they can show a customer what the garment will genuinely look and feel like. "For first- time shops stepping into apparel, showing a photo of a style and color is no substitute for having the real thing on hand." Mary Bostwick, Delta Apparel, also rec- ommends that regardless of what colors they're offering, practitioners should also make sure they have short- and long-sleeve variations of the T-shirts to make the selec- tion applicable year-round. She also suggests offering lightweight fleece as a companion to T-shirts, since these garments work well in multiple seasons, especially with clients who prefer to layer up rather than wearing a heavy jacket. These outerwear garments can be embellished with the same branding as a T-shirt, making them suitable for complete packages for niches like corporate wear or the service industry. In addition to silhouettes and cuts, pro- ducers can offer their customers different options when it comes to fabric types. "As a shop owner, you can offer a good, bet- ter, best scenario—the customer can then determine what to choose based on their budget," suggests Bostwick. Budget is a sig- nificant determinant for most clients. Still, parties also suggest that producers take that conversation one step further to make sure they're truly targeting what the customer needs for their event, employees, or brand. Opposite: When suggesting different styles and fabric blends, producers should attempt a good, better, best approach, so clients know their full range of options. (Image courtesy Fruit of the Loom)

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