Styled for Success
– From February 2013's "The Tao of Tees"
4. Think Outside the Gym
"Activewear is a dominant trend that doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Now that activewear designs have innovative silhouettes, technology features and vibrant color selections, women are more comfortable taking their active looks outside their fitness regime," said Mabel Kwok, director of design & merchandising for Lenexa, Kansas-based Ash City USA.
– From May 2013's "Fierce Femme Fashion"
1. Embrace Full-Color Digital
The print industry has been using digital printing for years, and apparel decorators have recently co-opted the technology—with good reason. As the name implies, full-color digital printing can produce a broader spectrum of colors, allowing for complex, high-definition logo designs.
According to Carleen Gray, chief marketing officer for Stahls' ID Direct, St. Clair Shores, Mich., full-color digital logos also offer fast turnaround times and no per-color fees. They can be applied to almost any fabric, including cotton, polyester, Lycra, spandex, nylon and leather. "Full-color digital logos make it possible to decorate various promotional items all with the same technique, to keep a consistent logo for brand recognition," she said. "It's a great decorating solution for short runs and difficult-to-decorate items."
2. Consider Indirect Embroidery
Standard embroidery has some disadvantages. It can be difficult to apply, limiting the number of placement options on a piece of apparel, and the interior stitching can be uncomfortable for the wearer. Heat-seal patches can be used to avoid these problems, but patches don't necessarily replicate the look of embroidery and may not hold up as well over time.
That's where indirect embroidery comes in. "Indirect embroidery is actually created a completely different way, front-to-back, top-to-bottom, than a typical heat-seal patch," explained Brian Fuchs, president of Windswept Marketing, Asheville, N.C. "What that allows us to do is deboss the actual embroidery into the apparel so it resembles direct embroidery, as well as allows it to withstand [...] normal wash-and-wear usage." Fuchs said that applying the embroidery through a debossing process removes the need for stitching, resulting in a more comfortable feel. "The other thing is it's also a much better look from the outside, because on thin apparel, especially light-colored apparel or Dri-fit shirts, you oftentimes see that outline of the background stitching or buckram on the inside of the shirt," he added.