November '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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44 || P R I N T W E A R N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 5 In this close-up of the retail polo decoration, we can see a carved, dimensional single color figure; the use of texture without color shading will inform our own design style. (Image accessed at tions, consider the size, color palette, materials used, surface texture/sheen, contrast, and art style. Profiling your retail pieces results in a list of qualities by which you can judge potential garment blank choices and with which you can design appropriate decorations. Remember to keep your inspiration to basic stylistic cues; there's no room here for knock-offs. Even if customers steer you to steal a design, explain that branding's pur- pose is to express a company's culture and values in an original way—it doesn't make sense to blatantly replicate another's vision when the goal is to differentiate. Source appropriate garments. With your list of qualities in hand, check your go-to distributors for garments that fit the defined style. Though we're looking to create retail-styled uniform pieces, be certain to consider utilitarian concerns for the apparel's end user, such as whether the garments need to stand up to industrial washing, need non-metal fasteners, spe- cial pockets, or a certain amount of cover- age. Even functional garments like aprons can be matched or integrated into a retail style through careful selection of styles and appropriate decoration, so don't hesitate to compromise where necessary. By balancing the cues from your retail inspiration with the necessary functional elements required by your customer, you'll be able to choose a canvas for your creation that's the best of both worlds. Believe it or not, even the most utilitari- an workwear categories are seeing more and more custom colors, materials, and cuts, even in the most restrictive segments; medi- cal scrubs can be sourced in a stunning array of hues, prints, and fits. There's no uniform program that can't have some added flair. You may not be able to directly recreate a re- tail look for all workers, but you can always find cues to echo your inspiration. Create fitting designs. Most attempts at creating a more fashion-forward version of workwear fail due to a lack of consideration in this step. Though corporate decoration NON-TRADITIONAL UNIFORMS The main logo for our steakhouse was only used on aprons previously. While it's an attractive logo and a version could have been made for stan- dard left-chest embroi- dery, it's not a great match for the retail decoration seen on the example polo; luckily our customer is willing and ready to try new things with their art assets. (Image courte- sy the author) The main logo for Searching in our trusted industry catalogs, we find a military shirt that has features and colors close to those we saw in the retail example, better yet, it has the stain-resistance and laundry-friendly fiber that makes it perfect for the steakhouse's wait staff. This will be our base. (Image accessed at http://www.sanmar. com/sanmar-servlets/CatalogBrows- er?swatchsearch=yes&id=8769686)

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