October '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 5 O C T O B E R P R I N T W E A R || 35 and press different sizes and styles of caps. This means you won't be limited to trucker caps, low profiles, or flat bills, and will give you the ability to produce both adult and youth sizes. What's more, these platens also provide a lot of opportunity for profit out- side of decorating headwear as you can use the press to apply tagless labels, graphics to sleeves and other small application areas. MATERIAL MATTERS While the heat press is important to dec- orating headwear with heat transfers, the heat transfer is where we can start making more money. What types of graphics are your customers asking for on caps? Do they want graphics that are one color or more? Do they want finishes with dimension like glitter and flock? Do they want something personalized just for them? The answers to these questions will drive the type of heat transfers that you'll be using to decorate headwear. Let's start with the number of colors in your graphics. For one-color graphics, which are making a comeback when it comes to headwear decoration, you have a couple of options. You can opt for a screen print look and feel with screen-printed heat transfers or you could go the vinyl route. Screen-printed heat transfers will make more sense when your customer is looking for a few dozen caps. Otherwise, the price to get them produced can be higher than your customer will be willing to pay. Vi- nyl or film heat transfers tend to be a more popular choice for cap decorating because the material holds up better through the wear and tear that we put on caps. It also tends to apply across the seams of the cap better than a screen-printed transfer. If you want to stick with the current fashion trends, look for a vinyl with a matte finish and think about offering a tone-on-tone look. It elevates the end products and in- creases the amount of money that you can command for the cap. For multi-color graphics, the same con- siderations apply. Screen-print transfers will start to make sense when your order quan- tity is 24 or more pieces. When it comes to vinyl or film transfers, you will want to consider a printable version. Whether you have the printing capability or you need to order the transfers from a supply house, the digital transfer route will make quantities of less than 24 possible. Since caps have traditionally been em- broidered, your customers might be ex- pecting some dimension when they come asking for headwear. You can give them the looks they want without investing in em- broidery equipment or taking up capacity on your embroidery machine. There are a few different heat transfer options when it comes to cap decorating. The one that is closest to an embroidered finish is a fab- ric heat transfer. Fabric heat transfers can come in all shapes and sizes. They can be distressed finishes, look like they're sewn or even come in full-color graphics. You can create your own fabric heat transfers with a laser cutter or buy them from a production house. These transfers are a great option for any panel on a cap. An even more traditional finish on a cap would be a flock heat transfer. Flock has a suede-like texture and imitates the look of felt. It's a great throwback look that can be used for single-color text or logos. You can even utilize flock in a multi-color applica- tion as long as the colors aren't overlapping. Like fabric transfers, you can make your own flock transfers with a vinyl cutter or order them from a production house. The finish that has been dominating the marketplace for the past five or 10 years is glitter. Glitter heat transfers, whether rhine- stones or vinyl, can add significant per- ceived value to your headwear. Like flock, you won't want to layer multiple colors on top of each other but you can combine col- ors for an even better look. CREATIVE PLACEMENT Outside of being able to achieve finishes that traditional embroidery can't produce and freeing up capacity on your embroidery machine, heat transfers also open up new decoration opportunities on every cap. In addition to the soft portions of the crown and panels, heat transfers allow you to dec-

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