May '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 6 M A Y P R I N T W E A R || 79 same promotional purposes, but they also have other perks. A bow- tie or necktie speckled with a school mascot or company logo will stand out in someone's mind, and sublimated socks will get plenty of attention when they're spotted in the stands or on the court. What's more, the decoration methods used can further help your end users' logos or emblems stand out. DECORATING Ties, socks, backpacks, and sport sleeves all have one thing in common: they require some unusual steps in order to decorate them properly. For example, working with bowties requires a completely unique approach to help them retain their shape. Ever- akes explains that there isn't enough room to put a hoop on the bow, nor is there enough space in a single spot to screen print directly onto the bowties. It is for this reason that he doesn't recommend print- ing on solid-colored bowties, though that doesn't immedi- ately rule out other forms of decora- tion, like ordering custom woven or dyed pieces. Likewise, he says that neckties can be tricky to embroider if extra steps aren't taken. This is be- cause with embroidery, the threads on the reverse side of the tie are vis- ible when the back is exposed. One solution for jobs requiring embroi- dered ties is to take the tie apart at the bottom and resew it so the threads underneath are hidden. Embroidering on backpacks, mes- senger bags, and other bag styles can also be tricky. Fortunately, many of these styles have flaps as potential decorating spaces, which can be relatively easy to work with compared to zippered pockets. Socks are a different matter altogether. Working with them requires extra work for quality assurance, including the use of a sock jig if you're sublimating your socks. Roti says that there are two main reasons for this. For one, the jig allows you to stretch the sock over a larger surface area to get a more saturated image, especially in the ribbed portions. Sec- ondly, when you sublimate a stretched sock, the image will appear proportionate when the sock is on the wearer's foot and ankle. Roti also suggests that there are other techniques to improve qual- ity, such as rolling the edges of the first side of the sublimated sock over the jig. Doing so allows the second side to overlap just slight- ly, which prevents any unwanted white lines from forming be- tween the two sides. It's important to note that these specific challenges will change based on the makeup and design of each individual piece and dec- oration. For instance, neckties and other accessories with flat surfaces can be decorated with screen printing, heat transfers, sublimation, or pad printing with relative ease, while hard goods and certain bags will re- quire specialty equipment. CONSIDERING COSTS While there's no doubt that working with bags and acces- sories can be a profit booster, you have to consider cost-effectiveness as much as you would with any other type of apparel, if not more. In the interest of being efficient and cost- effective for end users, Shaw explains that most decorators working with promotional products probably wouldn't choose sublimation as a common route, due to the high quantities required for a variety of products. On the other hand, he says that sublimation is a good choice for providing specification samples for your clients. In smaller runs for some of the previously mentioned types of bags and accessories, it can easily become popu- lar with end users. The crisp, eye-catching graphics have plenty of appeal for them, and they usually last for years. Regardless of whether you are screen printing, embroidering, working with heat transfers, sublimating, or using any other type of method, it's important to remember that time and proficiency are key to making Above Left: Neckties can be embroidered with logos, mascots, or other designs, but the back often must be resewn in order to cover up the back of the embroidery. (Image courtesy Wolf- mark) Above Right: Accessories can be a dis- tinctive, fashion-forward way to show off team spirit or send advertising or promotional mes- sages. (Image courtesy Wolfmark)

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