We hope everyone had a safe and fantastic time ringing in the New Year. At our house we really enjoyed watching the Michigan State Spartans come back against Baylor after being down 20 points! Talk about an exciting finish. Talk about a “never give up” attitude. Congrats also to the Oregon Ducks win over FSU and the Ohio State Buckeyes win over Alabama. Ducks VS. Bucks, that’s going to be another great game on January 12th. But now it’s time to get back to business, where there is even more excitement.
If I had to use one word to describe the state of the imprinted sportswear industry right now and into the future it would be this—INCREDIBLE! With our marketplace continuing to thrive, it is almost impossible to NOT do well in business. However, there is a difference between riding the wave of demand for customization and truly thriving during this boom time. To make the most of the marketplace, it is going to be necessary to go outside your comfort zone. For some this might mean expanding by offering new services. For others, it might mean being open to the newest heat printing trends and showing your customers that you offer more than one type of decorating. And with the advent of all the young entrepreneurs (Generation Z) joining the industry, the competition is going to be heating up for sure. Colleagues around the world have reported an increase in the number of young people getting started with new heat printing technologies and industry surveys, such as one shared by Wearables, report screen printers, other decorators and distributors predicting a net overall sales increase of 19%.
In order to take advantage of this exploding marketplace in 2015, it will help to be aware of some of the trends we’re seeing. This is a general overview. (I’ll cover a few more in depth in coming posts.) But for now:
Trends in Colors
- Opalescent and milky, pearly whites and other colors with texture and shine are very popular for both sports and fashion
- To modernize traditional color palettes, gloss or wet look overlays are added
- Reflectives and metallics continue to be popular as accent colors, especially gold metallic
Trends in Decorating
- More and more consumers are demanding full color digital printing and full color logos because of the effects that you can’t get with other media
- Mixology is in—putting clear films on top of numbers, adding a touch of reflective or metallic to full color designs, using more than one type of media. Digital transfers with CAD-CUT, DTG the list is endless.
- Depth, design and dimension are keywords for logo creation
- The more unusual the placement of the logo the more attention it grabs. It’s not just full front or left chest designs anymore. Customizing runs the full gamut. From understated logos on the side sleeve or across the back of the neck to all over eclectic prints. The whole garment is up for grabs when it comes to personalizing. You need to be able to print anywhere, any size.
- The incredible rise in the demand for fabrics with the characteristics of self-wicking, lightweight and stretch, performance wear sales are skyrocketing, putting the pressure on the imprinted industry to come up with stretchable, soft hand graphics with sub blocking properties
Trends in Business
- Our customers’ expectations for quality continues to get higher and higher. You are compared to billion dollar companies when it comes to convenience, service and speed.
- Ease of ordering and speedy delivery continue to be key differentiators–they want it their way and they want it now
- Generation Z is very visual–keep this in mind when designing websites and other marketing pieces
Trends in DTG World
- This is the year of the DTG with full color digital printing the fastest growing segment in customization
- With the new generation of DTG’s coming out this year, this is going to be the year that the DTG goes mainstream and becomes a necessary part of every decorator’s need for full color printing in small quantities
- As inks that work on polyester are developed and become cheaper, this market segment will explode.
- Printing speeds will become faster, it will make more sense for garments to be printed this way.
- People are even going to start printing full color uniform numbers with DTG.
Trends in Imprinted Industry
- Crafters are becoming sellers. The craft market is growing, due to the rise in the number of “pro-consumers”. This is an abbreviation for people who start out doing things for themselves and are now selling items on Etsy, Facebook or other web-based social media.
- The expansion in our industry is led by people who are already tech-savvy and understand the importance of personalization and individualization to consumers (Generation Z)
- Sublimated garments with all over printing are an explosive market segment
- Adhesives and sub block materials with real stretch and soft hand permit easier customization of sublimated shirts.
- Color, hand, softness, texture are all important in decorating
- More reflective is being used for logos
- Lowering of application temperatures for all graphics so that newer, more lightweight fabrics can be printed
- Everyone is beginning to truly understand the importance of thermo-adhesive bonding and realizing that some items cannot be printed or customized any other way. You will need a reliable heat press, that’s for sure.
- Consumers are becoming more educated on what processes are best used for different garment materials and the different quantities that are ordered by their customers.
- The variety of digital media available for full color printing, from printable gold to printable silver and glitter, sub block bring new options for digital transfer creation
- A rise in availability of water-based, more eco-friendly graphic options
- Déjà vu (we’ve seen this before) in the opening of specialty personalization shops, which appeal to a good portion of the market that appreciates boutique type shopping. Custom shirt design in these stores will become more of an experience as consumers will be able to design their own garments, touch the fabrics, see the options for styles and have hands-on input.
- Functional design elements in clothing, such as see through hoodie panels, electronic device pockets, etc…
Trends in Sports
- Some college teams, take the University of Oregon Ducks for example, are becoming outrageous when it comes to uniform design. The demand for “stand out” uniforms, especially for key games, will continue to trickle down to the broader uniform market.
- Demand for water-based products due to hand and stretch
- Use of wet look or gloss materials to reinforce performance wear uniforms made with lightweight fabrics. (Click here for how-to video) Yes, this printing is functional as well as fashionable/decorative
- Increased use of full color numbers, digitally produced numbers and metallics as accent color or background color for numbers
It’s a lot to take in, but that’s what happens in a thriving industry. There are so many new graphics, so many ways to decorate, it ‘s exciting but also confusing.
There’s More Than One Way to Print
As the market expands, we’ll see more and more people looking for new income streams, which means more competitors. With the increase in people joining the custom marketplace and the increase in the number of decorating options, there will be confusion. One decoration method does not fit all. As an industry we tend to confuse newcomers, with suppliers that want to tell you that there is only one ideal way to personalize. We’ve said it many times before and it has never rung more true—there’s more than one way to print textiles.
In 2015 we will continue to do our best to educate you on all methods of decoration, to make you aware of all the possibilities. And whether you are new to the industry or you have been decorating a long time, please put stahlstv.com on your list of things to watch in 2015. It’s designed to help you make the most of all the trends that I’ve listed here and we hope it is able to help you figure out the best ways for you to make your business more successful than ever in 2015.