Sweating the Details
“Traditional” in this sense means the sweatshirts are the typical industry standard: 8 oz. in fabric weight; ribbed wrists and bottom cuffs; a tight, smooth cotton surface; and a napped soft fleece interior. “They’re industry silhouettes, but they also marry very well to retail trends and retail silhouettes, particularly the zip hoodies,” said Levesque.
Of course, as Anderson mentioned, one of the perks of having an apparel item that is simpler in style means it’s much easier to have an eye-catching imprint. Like the perfect scrambled egg, a lot of work goes into making sure the seemingly simple sweatshirts and fleece can handle an imprint well. Cyndi Granger, activewear buyer for River’s End Trading Company, explained some of the technical design elements. “In the basic sweatshirt fleece area, a garment made with a 100 percent cotton face (outer layer) or an air-jet spun yarn gives a garment that is more resistant to pilling,” she said. “For imprinting, the higher the stitch density, the smoother surface you have for your decoration. On a microfleece, the density of the fabric and an anti-pill polyester microfleece provides for a ‘crisper’ decoration and a better-wearing garment.”
Levesque elaborated further, going into more detail as to why cotton and polyester are often combined, and how that combination works. “The cotton can be on the surface largely, so the inks can sit on the surface without pilling or without high absorption because it’s a nice, tight-knit surface,” he said. “A lot of the polyester is reserved for the napping or the inside of the garments, so the contact with your body is the super-soft, recycled polyester surface,” and added that although the product is blended, it’s designed to have more cotton on the surface, and more polyester on the inside. “It’s about the performance of each of those on the surface we put them on.”