Gary Layzell, brand ambassador at Result Clothing, provides some invaluable advice on how to decorate high-end pieces of outerwear.
Whether you blame Brexit and the ensuing uncertainty, the aggressive price cutting on the high street, the credit crunch, the long recession that followed after 2009 or just the amount of competition these days, it is clear that our well established and beloved promotional market place is suffering more and more from pressure to lower price points and margins to a level that is neither healthy nor sustainable. Garment decorators chase big T shirt orders to fill their machines, business gift houses and agencies push to sell volumes of product that make pennies while the wholesalers have a battle all of their own at the beginning of the chain.
But, it doesn’t have to be like this. With a slight refocus on product mix and decoration techniques everyone in the promotional route to market can enjoy higher selling prices, greater margins and potentially more money for less work. The answer, dear reader, is quite simple: move to outerwear!
Fashionable and technical jackets, in particular, maintain high perception of value to the end user without the price pressure experienced on smaller promotional items and T shirts.
“Wait though!” I hear you say. “Who wants to print a jacket when your margin is blown if you lose a couple in production?” Of course this is true to some degree but here at Result we listen to our market place and take these concerns on board. Our jackets have fantastic access points for both embroidery and print of all descriptions allowing the garment decorator to work between the outer layer and the wadding and lining. Our technical and waterproof items are proofed on the inside of the fabric allowing printers to work on raw polyesters and nylons. Even with this in mind the thought of printing onto jackets still worries many decorators so here are a few tips that might make life a little easier and build confidence in products that can add value back into your business.
Embroidery is by far the most popular method of decorating outerwear; and on garments like fleece this really is the only commercial method. Softshell embroiders beautifully and with the addition of waterproofing sprays and sealing tapes even waterproof technical jackets can be tackled with relative ease. The slightly more rigid and robust fabrics lend themselves to embroidery very well allowing excellent reproduction of artwork and logos, really adding value. The R300X is a perfect example of a garment that ticks all the boxes for the embroiderer. Exceptional value for money, waterproof and warm, with large access to the rear of the jacket and a semi removable chest pocket allowing decoration to be applied directly without damaging the waterproof properties of the main body. With a well embroidered garment such as this it’s easy to make pounds not pennies.
Printing is a little trickier
It’s with printing however that things can get a little trickier and with many different applications now available from DTG, digital transfers, hybrid systems, vinyls and good old screen printing some might not know where to start.
On a single skin, lightweight jacket, screen printing in single colour is really very easy. Solvent-based inks with a catalyst are readily available from the main ink suppliers and these will even allow the garment to air dry so any worries of dryer damage and dye migration are taken away. Catalysts can also be added to plastisols with very good effect but testing through the dryer to establish a full ink cure without damaging the garment is time well spent. Higher mesh counts allow a thinner ink deposit which encourages a better grip and longevity of the printed image.
Multi-coloured screen printing takes a little more thought on a garment such as the R189X and a hold down frame and multi flash curing will need to be employed to gain the best results. However with the introduction of the R231M&F Printable Softshell, the printer can produce amazing images with a plethora of applications. Screen printing on an automatic carousel is easily achievable and Result’s crimped yarn fabric allows almost any type of vinyl or transfer system to be applied without fuss.
These soft shells are still polyester so care should always be taken to avoid dye migration. Ink systems and transfers with dye blockers are by far the best options and vinyls which apply at temperatures under 150⁰C will give the best results. However with the introduction of new colour white into the range this is now not an issue and DTG and sublimation become options also. Printing onto jackets has never been this easy.
When tackling the more technical jackets on the market the right choice of print technique is of most importance. The garment has a much higher value and the end user will be expecting perfect reproduction and finish to their purchase. With the new digital print and cut media available this can be achieved quite easily. Do ensure the correct media is used though: most T shirt vinyls and media won’t adhere to closely woven hydrophobic fabrics but the products designed for nylon do work very well indeed. Many screen printed transfers are not designed to hold onto these technical fabrics either and care must be taken if outsourcing your transfers to a specialist. The best transfers will be printed using solvent-based colours, plastisol backers and a polyamide powder adhesive. Polyamide is a close relative of nylon and produces great adhesion at low temperatures. With the right transfers and adjustments on your heat press there really is no stopping you.
With the introduction of many new modern designs, fabrics and a ready to brand family of products, Result leads the way in innovation and technical backup for the garment decorator. There really is no reason to fight for margin anymore.