As distributors and decorators begin to see “stay-at-home” restrictions slowly being lifted across the country, people are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. But, the question of what business will look like, even after restrictions are lifted, still looms large.
Because there’s lots of uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and its lasting effect on our society, we may see businesses and the general public continue to take precautionary measures for the foreseeable future.
As a result, our society may start to think differently about how we interact and do business with each other on a daily basis. That kind of change, can often open up new markets of opportunity, and decorated face masks are becoming just that.
Each season, Pantone Color Institute graces us with their Fashion Color Trend Report based on the stunning pieces flaunted down the runway by top designers at both New York and London Fashion Week. The Fall/Winter 2019/2020 report includes a radiant display of bold and classic colors, proving that this year is all about individuality and expression.
Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, describes the collections as ranging from, “easy and sophisticated to strikingly different and unique.”
As high fashion always seems to trickle down to the mainstream, it serves as a valuable piece of information to help make guided decisions for your upcoming inventory for the colder months ahead.
Of the total 32 colors chosen as inspirational highlights (16 for New York Fashion Week, 16 for London Fashion Week), we chose the top seven most wearable hues you can expect to see in every shade this winter—along with a few products in similar color options.
Pantone’s Top Seven Color Trends for Winter 2019
1. Chili Pepper: Pantone 19-1557
A spicier cousin to Pantone’s spring ‘Fiesta’ shade, Chili Pepper is listed as the leading color for fall and winter this year. Incorporate a touch of the hue for added drama within your designs by selecting tees with statement sleeves, or showing some flavor with an all-red fabric and simple embroidered logo.
The proliferation of appropriation art—or art that intentionally copies another person’s work and alters it in some way—has been at the forefront of a series of copyright infringement cases over the last few decades. A common defense used in this age-old strategy is “fair use” under U.S. copyright law. This claim has provoked a longstanding debate among the industry.
To some, the ability to claim “fair use” opens up the possibility to creatively expand upon existing visual works. However, others fear it opens up their material to exploitation at the hands of well-known artists and companies who make minor “cosmetic upgrades” and then take credit for the work as their own.
As a business owner and decorator, it’s important to thoroughly understand the difference between “fair use” and copyright infringement to avoid costly lawsuits. But don’t worry, we’ll break it down for you.
*Please note, this article should not be taken as legal advice. Always consult with your personal legal advisor before relying upon the information provided.
The Fair Use Defense
What is Fair Use?
“Fair use” is outlined in a set of guidelines found in Title 17, Section 107 of the U.S. copyright act. It allows the use of copyrighted materials without permission from the owner in specific cases. Essentially, the guidelines give people the ability to build upon the work of another so long as it doesn’t deprive the original artist of the right to “control and benefit from their works.”
Distributor Rick Tidd has helped raise $750,000 for charity and
local organizations during his 35-year career—and wants to hit a cool million
before he retires.
“My primary goal is to help people, so that’s why I get involved in charitable efforts,” says Tidd, owner of Findlay, OH-based Mad Hatter Promotions. “But it also tends to help my business, since people invariably end up asking what I do and then want to work with me.”
Michelle Long, CEO of Glen Burnie, MD-based Hullabaloo Promos, agrees. “As a community, we need to work together,” she says. “If you have the capability to assist a neighboring company or school, it just seems like the right thing to do.” But how do you get started when you’re busy running a business? “Evaluating your options is simple— don’t take on anything that will cause your business to lose money,” says Long, who advises that processing orders at a discount, at cost or as a donation for advertising is best. “It’s a balance, though. Remember to leave time for your regular clients.”
There are lots of charitable organizations, many with branches in your area, that would love your help. When you support a nonprofit that aligns with your firm’s values, you’ll also attract like-minded customers. One idea: Tidd recommends choosing a charity that you want to affiliate with—and offering up a few hundred tote bags free or at End Quantity Pricing, if they’re hosting an event. “You get to add your logo as a sponsor,” he says. “You can even ask one of your clients to sponsor the bags or other items for the charity, and put both of your logos on it. It makes everyone happy.”
Tidd has repeated this
charitable model in one form or another over and over, helping to raise
three-quarters of a million dollars for his local community. For a Kentucky
Derby-themed gala to raise money for his local senior center, Tidd produces a
printed whiskey glass or stemless wine glass each year. “We’ve gotten our
customers to sponsor the glasses,” Tidd says. “And we all get our logos on the
drinkware.” For his local Honor Flight Network veterans program, Tidd sources “challenge” coins, “good conduct”
medal pins and celluloid pins at cost. “We’ve saved the group more than $2,000
vs. a retail cost,” he says.
Read on to learn more about how generous
distributors have gotten involved in their local communities—and
been paid back in dividends. Plus, get some great ideas on how you can get
As consumer trust of brands continues to plummet, shoppers look toward recommendations from friends, family and peers—leading more companies to invest in influencer marketing on social media.
More than just a marketing buzzword, the digital age has allowed businesses of all sizes to partner with trusted online leaders (or “influencers”) to drive a brand message to a dedicated audience—opening the door for smaller brands and budgets.
From fashionistas to hypebeasts to techies, there’s an influencer niche for pretty much every market. Yes, even “kidfluencers” exist.
Brands looking to partner with kidfluencers (influencers under the age of 13) must be extremely cautious. Sometimes known as “spawn con”, there are a lot of ethical debates concerning companies who partner with kids and their behind-the-scenes parents for social media marketing.
Currently, there aren’t any definitive laws protecting insta-famous children and their ad earnings like the Coogan Law does for child actors.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking to start a kids’ streetwear line and want to work with kidfluencers, we recommend reading this article by Adweek for tips on how to ethically engage partnerships.
If you’re not ready to work with the complexities of child influencers, there are plenty of older influencers out there to help spread your brand’s message! Read on for how to build a brand partnership with influencers.
In case you haven’t noticed, funny tees have been extremely popular as of late, with no indication of slowing down. In fact, on Etsy alone, there are over 93,000 results for ‘funny graphic tee’. If you haven’t considered adding the style to your custom apparel offerings, now is definitely the time.
Now, we know what you’re thinking—what exactly makes something funny?Is there a formula you can easily recreate for your own tees?
As it turns out, scientists and philosophers have been pondering several theories behind humor for hundreds of years. While it may not be an exact formula, understanding why people think situations are funny can inspire ideas for your creative new apparel.
To help provide some direction, we narrowed it down to the top three comedy theories. Let’s take a look!
If you’re wondering what halftone printing is though, here is a brief summary. This method is a one-color process that uses a series of dots varying in size or spacing, which combines together to form a gradient of that color. Those gradients then help to form the final image.
The number of halftone dots in the print is measured in LPI ( Lines Per Inch ), which is the number of dots per linear inch. The amount of detail and smoothness of your print will be determined a lot by the LPI.
In the video above, Geno will show you the difference in the results when printing using 35 LPI vs 55 LPI. He’ll also touch on the importance of screen tension, and using the right mesh to get the best results.
When Howard Potter, CEO of Utica, NY-based A&P Master Images, first started his decorated-apparel business, he operated from a 15-foot-by-15-foot room in his house. “In the beginning, I sold apparel mostly from catalogs and ordered samples to show customers only when I needed them,” he says.
As his business grew, he increased his showroom space—from 8 feet on a wall, to an 8-by-10 area, and then to a large 20-by-20 showroom. “We created a better layout and experience for our customers to view products,” Potter says. “But when we didn’t have tons of space to show actual garments, we didn’t let that become a block to stop us from selling.”
Potter focused on a couple of things: showing clients the most popular and effective mid-level and up styles in a variety of colors, plus recommending apparel and decoration unique to each client’s needs. “We want them to know that we aren’t trying to make them look like everyone else,” Potter says.
Many distributors and decorators, who’d like to sell more apparel, need to overcome their fears about selling it (even more so than overcoming their customers’ objections). Luckily, we’re here to help you get past the four most common challenges we’ve heard about.
Do you want to sell more fashion tees, but haven’t had much success getting the right printing results when using them? Are you defaulting to selling basic cotton tees as a result? The problem could be that you’re working against your garment, and not with it. Times have changed and the “one style fits all” approach to screen printing just doesn’t cut it anymore. What works on basic 6.0 oz./ 100% cotton tees doesn’t necessarily work on lightweight fashion fabrics like 3.7 oz triblends or 4.2 oz 100% ringspun cotton. So what’s the difference?
Basic T-shirt Printing vs Fashion T-shirt Printing
Think of the 6.0 oz basic shirt as a really thick paper towel. Because of it’s heavier weight and rough surface, it can absorb a thicker layer of ink. On the other end of spectrum, the 3.7 oz triblend shirt is like a thin tissue that can’t absorb the same amount of ink.
When printing on a 6.0 oz shirt, a coarse mesh like 110 is used to lay down a thick opaque layer of ink. If we looked through a loop and magnified the surface of a basic 6.0 oz cotton tee, the cotton fibers have a rough texture that looks like a bale of hay (see the “Carded Open End Cotton” image on the left). Because of this, it’ll require a thicker layer of ink deposited onto it for you to get a fully opaque print. Otherwise, much of the ink will fall in between the fibers, since there isn’t a smooth, tightly knitted surface for it to be evenly distributed on.
Using this same thick stencil technique wouldn’t be as effective on a 30 singlescombed ringspun cotton shirt, though. Why? The tighter weave(see the “100% Combed & Ringspun” image on the right) allows the ink to easily sit on top of the fabric and be evenly distributed across the surface of the shirt. A thick layer of ink on top of a shirt like this will feel heavy and rough. The ink will rise off of it and defeat the whole purpose of using a softer fabric in the first place.
Why pay extra money for a soft fashion tee if you’re going to apply a thick, sandpaper-like design on it, taking away from its softness? It’s like putting cloth seats in an expensive luxury car. It just doesn’t match the product. Offer your clients decoration techniques that best compliment the garment.
The Right Tee For The Right Job
When your customer wants an opaque bold logo on a fashion tee, go with a 100% cotton ringspun tee. If they’re looking for a vintage look, with distressed artwork or logos, use blended heathered or blended solid tees. These work best because the texture of these fabrics can be blended into the artwork, helping to emphasize that vintage style.
Below is a list of inks, along with how and when the best time to use them is:
For Printing On 100% Combed Ringspun Cotton Fashion Tees:
Regular Plastisol Ink – When using this kind of ink, simply use a higher mesh count like 156 or 195 and add reducer to it, so it’ll to thin out a bit. (Keep in mind once you go over 10%, it will start to affect your ink color)
Plastisol Discharge Ink – Great technique for achieving bright whites that have very little hand, but can be a little chalky when it dries, compared to water-based discharge ink.
Water Based Ink – Good for creating a tone-on-tone print, when using light colored tees and it also has the softest hand of any print technique.
Water Based Discharge Ink – The discharge agent bleaches the dye of the cotton and replaces it with the pigment of the ink. This provides a much softer hand then a traditional plastisol under base on dark garments. Discharge agent only works on cotton though, so the garment will need to be 100% cotton for a fully opaque print.
For Printing On Fashion Tees w/ Blended Heathers or Blended Solid Fabric:
Water-Based Ink – Works well on lighter colors for a washed-out tone-on-tone look. The ink blends in with the heathered coloring of the fabric, which makes it feel like part of the shirt.
Fashion Based Ink – Best way to achieve the same super-soft hand as water-based ink does, but still gives you the ability to use plastisol ink and avoid using water based ink, if you’re not comfortable working with it.
Water-Based Discharge Ink – Great for tri–blends that contain cotton/poly/rayon only. The pigment in the cotton will be affected by the discharge, which produces a very vintage “washed out” look.
Jason is an Account Executive at S&S and has over 20 years of experience in the decorated apparel industry. These days he really enjoys using the knowledge he's gained throughout the years to help other industry professionals succeed.
Whether you design your own graphics for your apparel business or work with a graphic designer, it’s important to stay on top of the trends to make sure your garments remain relevant and are meeting a market need.
Here’s a closer look at seven major graphic design trends for 2019 to help your ideation process: