The Uniqueness of Garment Dyed

The great thing about garment-dyed apparel is that every generation can appreciate its lived-in look and feel, allowing for an easy promotional item to offer customers. “The softer hand from the ringspun cotton, along with the earthy tones in the pigment dye, creates a unique finish that is in high demand,” says Scott Marino, owner of Neon Trees/Panda Apparel. “They are soft right out of the box and get even softer with additional laundering. They quickly become one of the most comfortable shirts people own.”

Most garments are “mill dyed,” where the fabric is dyed first on large rolls before an item like a T-shirt is created. With garment dying, Marion says, manufacturers take the “raw knitted fabric, sew it into T-shirts and then dye them with special pigments.” While it’s a longer process, this ultimately creates the “unique weathered earth tones” and deep, rich colors that win people over.

College students and groups, always color savvy, have picked up the trend because of its custom capabilities and opportunity to create fun alternatives to school colors.

Garment-dyed T-shirts are viewed as an upgrade from your typical T-shirt. A wide range of consumers love the ‘washed’ look that makes a garment feel like a vintage art piece.

a classic white shirt always works

Seasons come and go, but a classic white shirt will forever hold a place in people’s closets. Whether it’s a T-shirt or button-down, the simplicity of white allows it to work for multiple settings. Specifically within the ad specialty industry, different styles are popular for a variety of markets, such as health care, theme parks, airlines and hotels. The versatility of this essential is what makes it desirable. But it also has a simple appeal that continues to resurface in fashion circles. 

For a corporate outfitting program, white button-down options can be spruced up with modern twists. For women, offer a blouse with a significant detail such as zippers, ruffles or bold embroidery. “You can see how a white shirt allows the embroidery to pop without taking away from the style,” says Taraynn Lloyd, vice president of marketing for Edwards Garment. Look to high-end labels, too; designers such as Stella McCartney are changing the traditional style by tailoring a blouse to have a high-low cut, while others have cinched the waist of the shirt to give it more shape.  

Lloyd suggests giving employees more choice in color selection. “White is a mainstay for any image apparel program,” she says. “However, the trend now is to offer people a choice in how they dress, so oftentimes they provide the white shirt and the same style of shirt in a different color that stays within their branding identification.” 

Certain markets may require a specific type of white shirt. “For example a button-down, short-sleeve shirt is often worn at theme parks or arenas for a casual style,” Lloyd says. “A more corporate look is a button-down or point collar long-sleeve oxford shirt that provides a crisp, clean, polished look.” The environment you're working in will determine the style that should be considered. For instance, a classic white T-shirt with a brand name decoration, while casual, is more appropriate for workers on the move, such as athletic companies. 

Dress it up or dress it down, a classic white shirt always works. 



Embrace The Past With Vintage Tees

Soft tees with vintage imprint are great for organizations with a relaxed image.  Groups and occasions, such as farm-to-table agriculture; family reunions; collegiate or high school fan war and alumni fundraising are perfect for vintage imprinted T-shirts. Classic car and motorcycle clubs or any casual gathering that’s a bit nostalgic is also a great scenario for this classic look.  Thank of soft tees as a compliment to any lifestyle that embraces the past, as well as savors the moment. 

Trend Alert: Summer Outerwear

Summer and outerwear usually aren’t two words you’d put together. Summer is when we ditch the jackets and finally pull out our tank tops. However, summer outerwear has a different meaning than winter outerwear. Picture more light vests and jackets for a breezy night at the beach. Or a much-needed rain jacket when summer storms roll in. As much as we’d love for it to stay hot all day long, cool nights do sneak in, and wearers must always be prepared.

One of the trendiest things to wear in the summer right now is a jeans vest, or even the latest thing being a vest trench coat. These are stylish ways to add a layer without fully committing to a jacket. Of course, if your customers are looking for a light jacket or windbreaker, there are stylish choices for both men and women. “We manufacture a beautiful spring/summer/fall 3-layer soft shell that is lightweight, has all the technical properties such as being wind/water resistant but the fabric is very soft with lots of stretch,” says Shurli Allinott, president of Brandwear. Wind- and water-resistant jackets are perfect for outdoors, such as the hiking and boating markets; they are popular activities in the warmer seasons, particularly in areas with fluctuating temperatures. Allinott also says of their popular jacket, “It’s a perfect travelling fabric as it can roll up to be very small with no bulk, and the wrinkles fall out when you wear it.” It’s a huge bonus with all the traveling done in the summer.

There are certain things to consider when promoting summer outerwear over winter outerwear. Naturally, lighter material is better, whether it’s for active people or just hanging out outside – no one wants bulk in the summer. Having bright colors as options helps as well, since they feel more seasonally appropriate. Nautical is also always associated with warmer seasons and can make for stylish anoraks and blazers. While summer outerwear can be tricky, it’s important to keep the end user in mind and what their needs are, no matter the temperature outside.

Play It Close To The Vest

When the seasons change and the weather turns, vests are the ultimate transitional piece.  “Vests are a universal apparel item for both men and women and are popular across age group, “ says Heather Brunner Kelly, marketing manager for Charles River Apparel.  “Because they’re offered in numerous styles and weights with different performance features and at varying price points, they can be used by a wild range of industries.” Soft shell fabrics with quilted construction are very popular – they’re lightweight, easily packed and can handle multiple decoration techniques -  heat transfer, laser applique, embroidery and more.  Says Brunner Kelly, “They’re very fashionable and retail inspired.”

Swag helps tech firms spin products into gold

The Computer History Museum in Mountain View showcases an original Enigma cipher machine, an Apple I hand-built by Steve Wozniak and the prototype for Pong, the first arcade video game. Its vast collection also includes thousands of T-shirts, buttons, bags and other items emblazoned with names and slogans of bygone or current products and companies.

Branded promotional merchandise — colloquially called swag — ranks right up there with these groundbreaking products in capturing the technology zeitgeist.

“It shows the ecosystem in which all these objects exist,” said curator Chris Garcia. “Most of this swag is trying to sell people products by getting the name or concept into their head. If you can’t convince people to buy your system, you have no reason to exist.”

Swag has a long history outside technology, of course, especially in the worlds of sports and politics. But in the tech-centric Bay Area, where hordes of BART and Muni passengers sport a Silicon Valley logo on their shirts, hoodies or messenger bags, swag is both legendary and quotidian.

“Swag is an economic indicator, just like travel,” said Mark Weiner, a professor of practice at Santa Clara University and chief marketing office at Centrify, which makes identity and access-management software. “It shows an individual company’s health and the micro and macro economic environment.”

When tech was newer, in the 1980s and ’90s, T-shirts with company names were a status symbol — as some still are. During the dot-com boom, when companies were awash in cash, swag flooded the streets of San Francisco. Even during the crash, it never really went away.

By Carolyn Said - San Francisco Chronicle July 11, 2015

Tanks Are Fun Summer Staples

Face it, modesty is so over.  Once the mercury tops 70 degrees, people of all sizes reach for their favorite tank top and generally remain in them until fall. Comfort is a big reason – suppliers have updated fabrics and designs to make them lightweight and sveltely cut. “Every tank top that we make is really exploding,” says Mark Seymour, vice president of sales at Next Level Apparel. Whether form-fitting or flared, all-cotton or a blend of fabrics, these tanks are summer staples that fun, active brands need to make their own. (But don’t worry – once the weather cools, they’ll get worn at the gym and yoga studio). Get bold with color or keep it cool, but getting those sun-loving hordes outfitted in your own branded tank guarantees a long, hot promotion.

SCUBA BLUE IS Worth The Plunge

PANTONE’S SCUBA BLUE is a prominent player in spring and summer 2015 collections from high-end designers like Elie Saab and Ermanno Scervino as well as fashion houses such as Bluemarine and Thakoon. A gorgeous, plush version of turquoise with a touch of extra brightness, you’ll find this hue in numerous prints this season, particularly globally inspired designs. 

“Scuba Blue is infusing the season with a burst of color,” says Nancy Robitaille, principal designer for Fersten Worldwide Inc.“Its aqua undertones are reminiscent of Caribbean warmth, and it provides such a vibrant, cheerful air, especially as we come out of the dull, black- and grey-driven winter months. What I most love about this color is that when it’s applied to apparel, it can make for great stand-alone pieces.” 

Robitaille highly recommends incorporating this hue into your promotional strategy. “Scuba Blue is a perfect choice for any spring/ summer 2015 marketing campaign, as it grabs your attention with its brightness and yet is still pleasing to the eye,” she says. “It’s a super color to start your selling season off right.” 

A Prescription For Performance

The standard desire for comfort and carefree laundering is universal. At the most basic level are scrubs that are comfortable and easy to care for. Performance properties like wrinkle-free, moisture-wicking, non-iron and stain-resistance are standard. The ModernFlex line of scrubs from Spectrum fits the bill. Made from a 82/14/4 mix of polyester, rayon and spandex, these scrubs are breathable and flexible.

Adds Ashantá Miller, creative brand director for Spectrum: “The demand for antimicro- bial products in the health-care industry is on the rise. Most medical facilities are purchas- ing products that will keep their staff and patients safe and bacteria-free.”

Keeping the performance value of the garment intact matters, too. “The most important factor for quality and durability is the laun- dering standards,” Miller says. “It is also as important to use the proper type of laundering machines while paying close attention to the instructions on the care label.” Spectrum offers “Cover A Stitch” – a fusible backing that covers finished embroidery on the inside. It reduces irritation and preserves the embroidery of the garment. “The more resources that a distributor is able to offer their customer to preserve their garments,” Miller says, “the happier their customer will be!” 

mix things up with stripes

From thin to thick, stripes have always been a style staple. On occasion, they'll take a backseat in fashion, only to be revived brighter and bolder than before. This year, designers such as DKNY and Tommy Hilfiger incorporated more multicolored stripes onto the runway, reminding the world that stripes are pretty great. 

When you consider how many ways they can be employed, it makes sense that stripes continue to gain converts, particularly for promotional apparel. You can find stripes on many different apparel products and accessories, but for apparel, the pattern is in higher demand during the spring/summer seasons. "People are more likely to have a little more fun with their wardrobes during the warmer months, and stripes are a great way to inject a little playfulness without being over the top," says Albert Samuels, senior merchandiser at Alternative Apparel. Rightfully so, considering stripes are often portrayed as nautical and make us think of the beach. 

Stripes are also a good way to mix things up in your wardrobe without being drastic. "It's about simplicity, wearability and being just the right amount different to increase long-lasting impressions," says Mark Robinson, vice president of imprintable sales at Alternative Apparel. Stripes often add that little something extra.

When it comes to printing on stripes, subtle-yet-noticeable designs are essential. Robinson says stripes tend to work best with one- or two-color artwork – the key being you don't want the artwork disappearing in the stripes. "Screen printers are more comfortable with printing on stripes now," says Margaret Crow, director of marketing at S&S Activewear, in part because the current trend for embellishments and designs is less about being precise and more about stretching all over the garment. 

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 12.20.07 PM.jpg