November '14

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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24 | Printwear N ov e m b e r 20 1 4 Graphics Hot Spot by Wayne Potter Wayne Potter has more than 25 years of experience in the screen, litho- graphic, and gravure printing of heat transfers and industrial marking devices. He is a pioneer in the area of digital heat transfer papers. Potter has spent most of his career in sales, developing new business, managing marketing, and writing technical trouble-shooting articles. Up through early 2012, he was vice president marketing development at Air Waves Inc. in Columbus, Ohio. Currently, he is senior sales executive for Joto. | | | | W ith much ado, football season is once again well underway. Today, the average NFL team is worth $1.43 billion while the Dallas Cowboys top $3 billion. Likewise, the 20 most valuable soccer teams average $1.05 billion, MLB teams average $811 million, and NBA teams average $634 million. Given these numbers, it's evi- dent that professional sports is a big business. Not many of us will see much in the way of professional uniforms. How- ever, most of us can share the wealth with decorated inter- scholastic and youth team apparel. THE DECORATION EVOLUTION Early athletic jerseys were decorated by appliqué. By definition, appliqué is a cut piece of material applied to the surface of a jersey and stitched in place. To this date, it remains a preferred decoration method by a number of professional and college team outfitters. Ther- mal transfer letters and numbers have long been popular, as well, and in 1972, Robert James Liebe Jr. received a patent for a flexible plastic athletic lettering, which made names and numbers easily readable on TV. From there, the industry jumped to die-cut lettering and number kits. When the kits first hit the market, they were not only easy to use but also opened a whole new business for many would-be decorators. With these kits' letter and number spacing guides, it became simple to align and account for letter spacing prior to applying with a commercial heat press. Judging by the sheer number of 113,000 results in the Google search "die-cut letter- ing and number kits," this decoration tech- nique remains a mainstay of many athletic lettering producers. In this search, you'll find everything—from standard athletic block lettering to distressed styles that emulate well-weathered looks. As a general rule, stan- dard lettering for popular sports includes: Competing in the athletic Market Heat press options for team uniforms

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