Several options are available to help you master the lucrative team-apparel market.
By Cara Cherry
Heat-transfer materials come in a wide range of options and can be applied to different substrates based upon their desired outcome. Recent advancements in materials are now breathing new life into this technology. There are materials designed to block dye migration, to create special effects, and for durability, breathability, reflectivity, and just about anything else you can imagine.
Dealers can create their own custom designs using a vinyl cutter and rolls of heat-transfer vinyl, as opposed to ordering stock designs from a manufacturer. While ordering from a manufacturer is convenient and easy, cutting what you need yourself saves time and money, and it allows you to offer on-demand customization services.
Custom transfers are another option in heat printing. Suppliers can create custom screen or digital transfers that decorators just have to heat to apply. Digital transfers are created using eco-solvent or thermoresin print/cut systems to print full-color images, fills, or effects directly onto specialty media, which is then heat-applied onto the appropriate material or substrate.
The use of rhinestones (Figure 3) has been popular in the fashion market for quite some time. Cheerleading and dance-apparel markets really seem to be embracing the trend, as well. Decorators are creating custom rhinestone designs for practice wear, warm ups, T-shirts, camp wear, sports bras, socks, and even shoes. Fans are also doing their part to make the bleachers sparkle with T-shirts, jackets, and hats featuring blinged-out logos and team names.
Grace Fuentes, owner of Sparkling Ice Rhinestone Design in Maricopa, AZ, has decorated with rhinestones since she was a kid. Two years ago, she started her own home-based business with a vinyl cutter and a heat press, featuring custom rhinestone designs.
“Soccer moms are really my biggest clients,” she says. “I create designs for a number of different types of corporations and businesses, but I find that rhinestone fan apparel is very popular, and it’s a trend that just keeps growing. The reaction that I get from clients when they see their finished design is priceless!”
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