February '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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Page 47 of 120

2 0 1 8 F E B R U A R Y P R I N T W E A R || 41 Most sources agree that of all popular hats on the market, the five-panel is a commonly-requested look within various niches, including millennials. Whether it's decorative fashion-forward prints or more muted earth tones for outdoor lifestyle brands, the panel style lends itself to mar- kets that span urban, rural, young, and old crowds. Meanwhile, the hat that tends to keep coming back is the trucker cap. Ris- ing to popularity in the 1970s, the nostalgia has come full circle, and the hat is a common request for ev- erything from promotional events to band merchandise. The soft front makes it ver- satile enough for both heat printing and screen printing with the right platens and temperature settings. Plus, the breathable, mesh back lends itself to warmer weather and active lifestyles. PRODUCTION APPROACHES As with any new service or product line, a decora- tor needs to make sure that headwear is truly something they can accommodate. For the shop looking at an easy entry into the market, contracting may be an option since it sidesteps the challenge of having to purchase new tools and budget for additional time. Liu suggests the decision starts by looking over a shop's current busi- ness model and making decisions on a case-by-case basis from there. She recommends decorators look into the referral network dynamic, for example, offering an embroidery shop screen-printing servic- es if they can cover your headwear embroidery and vice versa. Liu points out that decorators can look to peers if an order size is out of their normal capacity as well. A smaller embroiderer partnering with a larger, industrial embroiderer for high-volume jobs can be beneficial, she says. "If you only have a six-head embroidery machine, but someone is willing to give you a 5,000 piece order with a tight deadline, you don't necessarily have to give up on the order just because you can't handle the load based on your own capacity," Liu contends. When a shop lands a mixed-media decoration job, this is of- ten cause for contracting the work out also, says Patterson. The challenging nature of mixing decoration methods together can complicate production calendars and call for more labor hours than a mid-to-smaller shop might be equipped for. If a shop does choose to offer in-house cap decoration, Roberts stresses that shops make sure they are proficient in embroidery. While hats are decorated with multiple disciplines, embroidery is typically one of the most commonly requested methods, and decorators need to ensure they can deliver the quality and detail their customers expect. Regarding decoration methods, par- ties generally tend to agree that the best meth- od for each client truly varies on two main things: the amount of detail in the design and the timeframe in which the client needs the or- der. While embroidery will typically be one of Because of the position of head- wear on the body, caps have re- mained one of the most sought af- ter promotional products. (Image courtesy HTT Apparel) The pre- curved base- ball cap, often referred to as the 'Dad Hat' maintains popular- ity in older crowds. (Image courtesy OTTO International)

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