T-shirts that Sizzle
CONVENTION AND COUTURE collide often in the fashion industry, and where the clichéd can be seen, chic can be found fleeing the scene. It is rare for something to simultaneously be hip and popular; that common articles can also be cool defies the laws of fashion physics. So it is all the more surprising when one of the most blasé, traditional tops becomes the standard for an industry. Yet across the board, T-shirts are having their spot on the catwalk.
As the shirts themselves change and their place in society becomes more prominent, a different kind of T-shirt manufacturer has taken center stage. One that has a greater commitment to bringing distributors all of the endless decorating and custom capabilities now available with the rebirth of these coveted garments.
For a long time, a rift existed between promotional apparel and retail apparel. The problem for many promotional apparel companies once was adherence to the supplier-distributor-end-user model meant distance from current consumer trends. One would not expect to see people wearing a promotional shirt outside of the event or company promoted, let alone to a party or restaurant. As technical capabilities and business models adapt, the distinction between give-away and must-have is blurring faster than vision at the aforementioned party.
But blurring the line between promotional and retail markets has advantages. Dallas, Texas-based In Your Face Apparel has found great profit in closely following retail trends and incorporating them into promotional T-shirts. “It’s pretty much a fact that the promotional market is behind retail,” explained Doug Stayman, president. “Although the gap is closing, most suppliers are not going to create innovation and style because they have to wait for something to be tested in the retail environment before they can introduce it in the promotional environment.”
While Stayman believes a certain level of caution is necessary when it comes to promotional apparel, he indicated sometimes caution must be thrown to the wind. “We use baby jersey cotton with water-based printing, and of course unique appliqués, such as rhinestones,” he said. These are trends still visible in fashion magazines on newsstands. And since longer tees are all the rage these days, the company has lengthened its stock of T-shirts. “A lot of the things we do are fashion-related to real time or based on what the customer asks us for, and we satisfy those needs through our custom capabilities,” he said.