Identity apparel for corporations has changed in recent years, and smaller businesses have followed their lead, much like high schools athletic departments mimic the trends of college athletics. Corporate users have led the way with updated garments, embroidery placements and color treatments. Embroiderers who apply the latest corporate looks to small business customers gain more business and a reputation as the embroiderer of choice for among business users.
There is an entire universe of apparel blanks, ranging from budget selections to premium signature goods. Manufacturers have expanded apparel offerings to include more high-end goods that appeal to corporate users. These additions benefit all sizes of businesses that use embroidered identity apparel.
Licensed garments available for customizing include household names such as Nike®, Bill Blass®, Arnold Palmer and other brands associated with an upscale image. These garments feature signature embroidery on a sleeve, cuff or other location that leaves the chest area available for a company logo.
The entry of new licensed names and the expansion of other high-end product lines is testimony to the attention manufacturers are giving the business of customizing garments for the identity apparel market. This interest is also shown by their attention to garment details. For example, some jacket makers now include hidden access zippers that allow embroiderers to place a hoop on the jacket and embroider without stitching through the lining. Some offer this for front embroidery only, while others allow embroidery on a full back location.
In companies of all sizes, women are prominent in today’s business world. It should come as no surprise that they don’t want to wear men’s clothing to work. Ladies sizes are now in most mid- to high-end wearable lines. As compared to men’s versions, the ladies’ counterpart in a particular style may differ in styling as well as sizing. For instance, a man’s twill shirt often features a button-down collar, while the ladies’ style has an open spread collar. Similarly, the man’s version may have a straight back yoke, and the ladies’ shirt a back locker patch treatment.
Application Tip: Women like their embroidery placements slightly higher than placements that men find acceptable on the front of pocketless shirts. When both men’s and ladies’ shirts will be used for an account, use a placement that is suitable for ladies, and match the men’s placement to the ladies. It is acceptable for men’s garments to have the higher ladies’ placement, yet the reverse is not acceptable.
Specialty sizing has also become more available. Recently, tall sizes and plus sizes have taken a more visible position, with some distributors specializing in big and tall sizes. Having a good working knowledge of the products available and a few sizing samples is an irreplaceable asset on a sales call. After all, if the owner wears a size four extra large, imagine his reaction to, “Let me check whether that color is available in your size,”
Embroidery Tip: Pin a swatch or actual size printout of the logo in the location of proposed placement on unusual sized garments to assure a pleasing appearance that is appropriate to the scale and proportion of the garment.
Many corporations have modified the guidelines regarding the use of color in their logos. This relaxing of the rules provides garment decorators more freedom to create pleasing color combinations that coordinate with garment colors.
Fig. 1 shows the traditional colors of the Farmers Insurance Company. While it looks good on the printed page, the red white and blue color scheme can appear dated, and limits garment color choices.
Fig. 2 shows the same logo following the company’s new color guidelines. The new guidelines allow the logo to be rendered in two colors, with one color creating a negative space effect, by matching the garment color. The second color can be any color, often matching contrasting trim on the garment.
This simple modification may also be recommended to your smaller business customers. Philosophies vary on this point, but many companies find it acceptable and even desirable to vary the color schemes in their business identity apparel.
If you work for companies that participate in trade shows, the change of colors can be an effective attention-getting tactic. Suggest that the company buy each member of the show staff a variety of shirt colors. Then, each staff member wears matching shirts in a different color each day. It’s easy for customers in the booth to spot a staff member who can answer questions or take an order.
Another recommendation that you can make to companies, particularly those that use trade show apparel, is regarding a popular new embroidery placement. On twill, denim or other woven shirts, the back yoke is a perfect showcase for a company’s web address. Similarly, the locker patch of knit shirts can be used for a web address or company slogan.
If you want to make your customers think you are a genius, suggest the smartest new embroidered logo placement in years – the right shirt cuff. This effective location is highly visible whenever the wearer extends his arm for a handshake.
This is possibly the most innovative and exciting area of wearables, with a couple of notable developments.
Recently introduced garments made with Teflon®-coated fabrics are gaining popularity. Their resistance to liquid and other stains makes them a favorite among service industries such as restaurants. The coating doesn’t affect the application of embroidery, and normal application methods may be used. Garments made of the coated fabrics include golf style knit shirts as well as twill styles.
Application Tip: For best results, use a light ball point needle on golf styles made from knitted fabric, while a sharp needle will give better clarity on small lettering and details on woven twill styles. Water-soluble topping may be needed on either fabric type to attain clean, crisp small letters.
Lycra® content in garments
Some blank shirts contain a small amount of Lycra® for comfort, a blend that is also presently popular in retail settings. Because this fabric stretches, some embroiderers find it challenging to embroider. One method to tame the stretchy stuff is to adhere a piece of lightweight, fusible cutaway stabilizer. Because of the Lycra content, the fusible should bond at low temperatures to prevent damage to the fabric. The cutaway stabilizer will prevent stretching and shifting of the fabric during the embroidery process.
Proper interpretation and programming of logos is possibly the most important avenues to success in corporate embroidery.
Small lettering is a common element in corporate logos, and at times, it may be necessary to set down guidelines for your customers. To make lettering readable in embroidery, there may be changes that must be made from print versions. Lettering with very narrow columns may need to be thickened, long lines of lettering may need to be abbreviated or stacked on multiple lines, and lettering styles may need to be simplified to be more readable in very small sizes. If you aren’t well-experienced with digitizing small lettering, rely on the recommendations of a professional digitizer and pass the recommendations along to your customers. Small lettering has relatively few stitches, so don’t try to economize by using stock lettering when it would stitch more cleanly and crisply if it were specially digitized.
Application Tip: When applying very small or narrow lettering to a pique knit or other highly textured garment, always use a water or heat soluble topping to provide smooth surface, giving better clarity to the lettering. Very open knits or very deep mesh knits may require a midweight rather than a lightweight topping to keep it from breaking down before the lettering is completed.
Because printing can achieve finer lines than embroidery, some logos must be translated into embroidery. Color blending and fine lines may require modification to present the best embroidered representation of the logo. The guideline to remember here is to simplify only as much as necessary. Oversimplification that changes the fundamental appearance of the logo affects the recognition factor.