August '17

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 7 A U G U S T P R I N T W E A R || 31 less stitches than traditional embroidery. The thicker yarn also has fewer breaks as the yarn is heavier than thread. This allows for pro- duction to run virtually unattended. Typically, it costs less per square inch of coverage for chenille than for embroidery, which creates more options for customers who want large jacket-back designs. On the flip-side, chenille doesn't lend itself to small designs very well, so the height should be restricted to a minimum of 3". Of course, when you can do both chenille and embroidery in- house, it makes your shop very versatile. By using chenille to fill in large backgrounds and embroidery to do detail and lettering, excit- ing designs with lower stitch counts can be created at a higher price point due to the uniqueness. Since chenille is a "patch," this also presents many opportunities to test the waters. Before rushing out and investing in new equipment, you have the opportunity to outsource chenille work, receive the fin- ished patches, and then adhere them on to the garment yourself. As you build and develop a revenue stream, you will be able to analyze the right time to bring chenille in-house and will have a handle on the right type of machine to purchase. A chenille machine is available in two primary configurations. The first is a che- nille-only machine. If embroidery is also needed, the finished chenille product will be taken to the embroidery machine for completion. The second is a combo ma- chine that has both chenille and embroi- dery. This allows both tasks to be com- pleted in a single step. Chenille offers a traditional embroi- dery shop more business growth options. For one, it gives them a competitive edge in the sports market by allowing them to become a one-stop shop since many jobs require both embroidery and chenille. But while the majority of the work is still centered around the school market, chenille producers report that more or- ders are coming in from less traditional areas, such as restaurants, clubs, and spe- cial events. And with the ever-increasing need to be "different from all the rest," the corporate powers that be have already started to turn their attention towards the innovative, eye-catching presentation of chenille. Chenille gives the decorated apparel business owner the oppor- tunity to think outside the box and create new and exciting designs for customers. There are only so many times a decorated apparel company will sell the same garments with the same logos before the customer loses excitement. Being unique and innovative in the decorated apparel industry is the way to set yourself apart from your competition. Overall, chenille has a lot of opportunities, though it does have some challenges as well. But for savvy entrepreneurs looking to spe- cialize in a specific technique and one-up the competition, the che- nille option deserves a closer look. The demand has been steadily increasing over the past few years, and the future looks very bright for chenille. In fact, though it is still considered to be a small player in the overall scheme of the imprinted sportswear industry, there are indications that chenille may well explode into the forefront in the near future.

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