July '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 8 J U LY P R I N T W E A R || 79 Some solid examples where retail has influenced the hospitality, corporate, or uniform market were brought up by all of our sources. Lloyd comments that the "easy-fit waistband was retail-driven and now has become mainstream in corpor- ate and uniform apparel, as has selecting a knit T to wear under a suit, versus a trad- itional woven." On the fabric side of things, Stiene states that textured and striated heathers are becoming a bigger part of the corpor- ate market because of their popularity at retail. DECORATING INSIGHTS Whenever someone is selecting the perfect uniform, they will most definitely want to ensure that their brand is prominently and tastefully displayed through decoration. After all, the company's logo on top of a stylish design will create the lasting impres- sion that they desire. Anything can be done with a solid decor- ation, but have fun when recommending different spots for the logo, including on the sleeves, along lapels, or on the side body. A creative placement will stand out more versus showcasing the brand on the left or right chest. In terms of other decoration trends, embroidery and woven heat seal patches will continue to lead in this market, while transfers and dye sublimation are becom- ing more common. "Both methods offer a 'flat' look," explains Steine, although dye sublimation will have some color limita- tions." Whichever type of decoration is chosen, it is important that at the end of the day, the brand is represented well and tells the right story. So, take the time to collaborate with your client before presenting the next best thing. After all, they know best regard- ing what they are looking for. Understand- ing their culture and ensuring the uniform and decoration communicates that tone is truly what it's all about. wards American hubs for their blanks and other soft goods, most sources concur that it's an encouraging step towards growth. That enthusiasm, however, many agree, will face challenges in the coming decades. One of the biggest hurdles for American manufacturing, in general, is a shortage of skilled labor. Brumer points out that with garment construction, teaching a new crop of laborers the trade and ensuring they have a keen attention to detail takes a great deal of time. Higher wages also continue to pose a difficult question for U.S. shops. "Imports are already 50 percent less expensive and doubling the minimum wage will make them at least 75 percent less expensive," Jones proposes. By continuing to refine automation, the country may find ways to counter its labor costs. Where the American-made apparel mar- ket shows promise is in customization and sustainability. "We're seeing people who in the past never considered buying Made-in- the-USA request it now," notes Hughes. With smaller companies making use of the quick turnaround on custom-made gar- ments by domestic operations, he sees this trend continuing. For its role in the sustainability discus- sion, multiple parties see the American- made apparel market helping to drive change. "As people grow more aware of how polluting the garment industry is, as we are the second-most polluting industry in the world, people are looking to find a way to keep their impact as low as possible, which is done by keeping it local," says Vo- gelsong. Though it's unlikely that the face of American manufacturing will return to what it once looked like, there's undoubt- edly a future in domestic apparel. With a growing demographic of conscious con- sumers and shops striving to meet those customers' demands, the road ahead is sure to yield interesting opportunities for Made-in-USA apparel. continued from page 37 APPAREL & SUPPLIES MADE-IN-THE-USA continued from page 47 for all domestic apparel companies. The same strict labor and environmental regula- tions shops can pass down to customers as a value proposition do tend to cost manu- facturers more money. These regulations, along with higher taxes, says Hughes, make the cost of doing business steeper than shift- ing production offshore. In addition to keeping up with current regulations and laws, diversity of selection can be an issue for domestic companies. "It is tough to offer a wide variety of colors and sizes on basics which is the bulk of the mar- ket," states Jones. A MOVEMENT OF MAKERS Alongside larger decorated apparel shops coming into the fold, parties point out that the Maker Movement has continued to help drive the demand for Made-in- USA apparel and accessories. Focused on a strong do-it-yourself ethos, the movement encompasses a large swath of categories and trades like 3D printing, tech goods, and food, as well as decorated apparel. Many entrepreneurs in the apparel niche of the movement sell online through platforms like Etsy and Shopify, often striving to print their merchandise on American-made gar- ments. This is because it coincides with their brand's message, which is typically progressive, community-oriented, and in many cases, earth-conscious. In addition to makers, companies are looking for ways to be greener by inquiring about how they can recycle waste from their manufacturing pro- cess, Vogelsong adds. The growth of online stores has helped play a role in the growth of these businesses, which in turn has helped revive a demand for Made-in-USA goods. "There's a much bigger market for these artisans now," says Brumer. With the tools and platforms available to most businesses, he elaborates, these shops can now sell their goods to the whole world. THE ROAD AHEAD With some shops turning their eyes to- The UNIFORM MARKET

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