Awards & Engraving

2012 Sublimation Report

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SUBLIMATED APPAREL: Demand + Creation BY CHRISTOPHER BERNAT Sublimation certified colors can really make a difference. S = Innovation and Profit Who says you can't sublimate on colors? UBLIMATION IS GROWING BY LEAPS and bounds. We are here to look at the trends that are active today. The apparel market has fully embraced sublimation. No longer do you have dozens of people calling it "sublimination". Whether it is cut & sew uniforms, all-over fashion tee's or tra- ditional spot printing on a small-format press, it is growing and has become in many instances the preferred option vs. cotton and screen printing. WICKIE…WICKIE…WICK! In the wake of the performance- apparel revolution, polyester has lost its reputation as a "cheesy" lounge suit material. It has been replaced by a repu- tation that focuses on wickability, color, customization and comfort. Under Armour was the first company to help redefine polyester as a fabric. They burst on to the scene and started a dis- ciplined process of educating the entire consumer market about the benefits of polyester. The company, headquar- tered in Baltimore, Maryland, had signs throughout the office with messages like "Crush Cotton" and "Polyester is Perfor- mance" to inspire their internal team's effort to advance the market. Nike, by many people's accounts, was 24 caught off guard. Recognizing they were quickly being hurt by this radical upstart, Nike responded by investing millions of dollars in polyester product development and marketing campaigns designed to take back the sports market. Adidas, not to be outdone by their friends in Portland, launched ClimaCool, their own brand of wicking technology. Soon all the national soccer jerseys for the EuroCup and World Cup became pure polyester, and most were sublimated. Combined, these three brands led the market to a full adoption of polyester. Soon every other brand was forced to respond. In the sports market, if you are not in line with the major brands, you are in trouble. New Balance, golf brands such as Greg Norman, and many others all joined the polyester performance chorus. Within a few years, all the major brands were on board with this trend. Soon it just wasn't enough to have a pre- mium wicking polyester garment. The market was thirsting for more features and benefits from the trend. The team uni- form space market was one of the first to experience innovation in printing. GROWTH SPOT: CUT & SEW Cut & Sew, a definition: In regards to sub- limation, it is the process of printing large- format sublimation paper and transferring it via a large flatbed press or a roll-to-roll press, cutting the transferred pieces, and then sewing them together for a total coverage garment. As more organizations wanted 100% cov- erage of the uniforms and event jerseys, the cut & sew market began to rapidly expand. Cut & sew requires large-format printing equipment and has an initial capital investment of $25,000 to $50,000 depending on your choices. It is a signifi- cant investment but one that allows you to potentially change the definition of your company in the marketplace. SUBLIMATION CERTIFIED COLORS Colored garments for sublimation have not been "new" for a few years, but that is not stopping printers from "rediscovering" the trend and the advantages of using fab- rics and colors that are certified for subli- mation. For years, people have been told they cannot sublimate on anything that is not pure white in color or clear in the hard substrates world. You can sublimate on many light and not-so-light fabric colors. You just have to do your homework and find suppliers that will deliver you these options and stand behind them. You can sublimate on colors. What you

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