April '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 8 A P R I L P R I N T W E A R || 79 fabric and the fit. It has to be the shirt they ask to wear over and over. And the second follows from the first––it has to survive mul- tiple washes and hold the shape and color. This is an important factor to building a loyal brand following." He mirrored the sentiments of all the experts by stating that buyers want a garment that will hold up to everyday, rough-and-tumble activities. The millennial buyer grew up with better options in apparel, and they know what they want for their money, Seymour adds. "They are more selective about their purchases and would rather buy a few quality shirts than a lot of disposable garments. This is true when they buy for themselves, and even more so for their children." Look to buy pieces that are strong staples, advises Oleksik. You can invest a little more in them and use them in several different ways. For example, she says, "A high-qual- ity button-up collared shirt for a little boy can pair great with a cute pair of shorts for a casual look, slacks for a more dressed up look, and can layer great with overalls, sus- penders, a sweater, etc. This piece can be worn throughout multiple seasons, and you will get your money's worth." Staple pieces like this can flow throughout trend fluctua- tions, too, and parents will certainly get be- hind an item that stretches the dollar. Today's children's wear best sellers have established themselves in this giant market for good reason. Kids look good and actu- ally like the styles, and Mom and Dad are happy when their dollar goes further. Plus, it's cute! "It's all about the cute factor," Oleksik agrees. "Whether it's a ruffle detail on the neck or sleeve, ears on a hood, a bowtie on a onesie, or a fun colorway, consider elements that really highlight the 'reason to buy.' It has to pull the customer in and be a unique, fun addition to the child's existing wardrobe." One day, they'll cringe at the idea of "cute- ness factors" influencing their childhood apparel choices. But today is not that day, as parents still effectively rule the roost. And the children's wear market. Many parents can attest to a battle with a child over an article of clothing deemed un- favorable or too itchy. "Children's wear con- tinues to blow up in finer fabrics and bet- ter fits following the recent trends in adult apparel," explains Mark Seymour, Next Level Apparel. "Gone are the days of the old scratchy disposable T. It's been replaced with a new favorite. Buyers are looking for on-trend colors and all the best fabrics like CVC and tri-blend." Seymour reports that the color combinations paired with super- soft fabrics are powerful at the moment. Mai agrees, stating that while traditional children's wear has always been associated with heavy weight cotton and unisex cuts, fabrications have become lighter in differ- ent blends with a more fun approach to the basics. "We are also seeing popularity of blends and polyester fabrics, especially for youth, in comparison to previous years. The advances in sublimation printing and enhancement in the polyester fabrics and designs have encouraged printers to design and print for youth compared to the past," says Gupta. THE ADULTS ARE TALKING (WITH THEIR WALLETS) Mom and Dad make the financial decisions that affect this market, and there are certain details on their radar when making family purchases. "Kids are notoriously tough on clothing, and blank garments must be able to with- stand cleaning and also be able to maintain the decorations done on them. That's one of the unwavering reasons the quality of the fabric becomes important," Gupta says. For him, the primary focus has always been on durability, which depends on factors like thread count and how tightly the fabric is knitted. Attention to how well a clothing item is constructed is one of the many ways parents speak loud and clear via their wallets. Seymour reinforces that there are two uni- versal principles in apparel that may be even more important in children's wear. "Num- ber one," he states, "Buyers have to love the continued from page 35 ERICH'S EMBELLISHMENTS continued from page 25 We should remember that it's not that long ago that digitizing was done one stitch at a time. Most of us wouldn't dream of plotting a standard fill or a satin stitch that way these days, and some modern tools that reach even further than filling an object can be useful. Early digitizers lacked even stock 'keyboard' lettering. Though it often requires revision, we know that it's sensible to use outside of logos, and I'd argue that it's fine for the rare case of a perfect match to a logotype's text. Just as creating name drops or titles is profit- able now due to the speed of typing in that stock font, the judicious use of automatic tools can make other parts of our work fast- er, and thus, more apt to make us money. For simple design elements, you can often use automatic underlay without any loss of quality, saving yourself the time of drawing it in with straight or manual stitches. Branch- ing tools can group and set the sequence of simple groups of objects if their overlapping is easy to follow and you are careful with starting and ending points of the group's pathing. If your software has automated contouring, you can quickly create simple satin outlined fill areas for large-scale text and numbers or as part of geometric designs. Know how your tools work and how much you can trust the automation. If you understand how your software plots stitches when converting a piece of vector and how well things like auto-underlay track in com- parison to your manually created version, you can make educated choices as to what design elements can be created with their help or compromise quality. The greatest secret to simpler, faster digi- tizing is that spending time in preparation nets you a savings in execution. If you pre- pare your art, handle your customer's expec- tations realistically, and determine your first steps before you plot a stitch, you'll always be more likely to motor through your de- signs at a quick pace without losing quality or control. Add that to a well-reasoned use of the conveniences of modern software and you can make your work not only easier but better for your bottom line. THE CHILDRENS WEAR MARKET

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