It's the Outside That Counts
Nothing says "classy" like embroidered apparel, but 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.
There are two other major benefits to indirect embroidery: One, the embroidered logos are created independently of the apparel and applied as needed, reducing the risk of dead inventory and saving up-front costs; and two, the logos can be applied in places standard embroidery cannot. "Because with our process and not penetrating through the apparel, […] we can do one-off pieces on the bill of a cap, the collar of a shirt, the cuff of a shirt, pockets of apparel, portfolios, bags, neoprene—things you typically could not embroider or you could not hoop, you could now decorate with an embroidered piece," Fuchs explained. "So the flexibility and the doors it opens for opportunity to brand something with an embroidered logo are like never before."