August '17

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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56 || P R I N T W E A R A U G U S T 2 0 1 7 are aggravating the fabric and the ink less, reducing the risk of burned, discolored fabric and dye-migration." Two things decorators should be aware of if heat printing, she contends, are pres- sure adjustments and the shrinkable qual- ity of fleece. Whenever possible, Haw- thorne recommends using pre-shrunk fleece products for heat printing. WHATEVER THE WEATHER Since fleece is a popular choice for cooler weather, most parties agree that how to car- ry and offer fleece truly depends on where a shop is located. For decorators situated in areas like the Northwest or coastal areas with routinely cool weather like San Fran- cisco, stocking up on fleece blanks makes sense. For areas with four seasons, Haw- thorne suggests marketing in late July and using stock by February to avoid the need to liquidate any unused product. Conversely, Harris contends that a shop should decide who it wants to sell to rather than simply keeping an eye on the weather. "I'd be reluctant to turn away a customer looking to have fleece printed just because it's not 'in-season,'" Harris continues. "Printers that have the right tools and knowledge of the process should be able to switch from fleece to T-shirts without much issue." If screen printers are concerned about accrued labor costs from adding fleece to their production calendar, Harris recommends fac- toring in a small extra charge-per- unit to offset costs. Despite seasonal needs, there are other options for selling fleece decoration even if a decorator doesn't live in a climate that expe- riences much cooler weather. Davy, for example, points out that his business is situated in Sarasota, Florida, an area with very few instances of cooler weather. However, when clients request warmer garments for company retreats or the like, dec- orators can still find a market for fleece, even if they don't necessar- ily run a shop in a cooler climate. As with any new service, bring- ing fleece decoration onboard requires a shop to assess their cur- rent order volume, manpower, and clien- tele. Hawthorne suggests that by starting out with a few smaller jobs, a decorator can gauge the demand and profitability of this service. Once a shop owner has a few months' worth of orders to assess, they can ultimately decide whether fleece is a fit for them. FLEECE DECORATION Screen-printed fleece works well for most outdoor niche markets. (Image courtesy Fruit of the Loom)

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