Beyond Promotion

Traditional apparel is also seeing a Renaissance of sorts, as technology and variety meld to offer more and better options.

“Manufacturers are coming out with better colors, on t-shirts especially; they’re doing many different shades, creating a really nice variety of colors,” says Tom Brzizinski, vice president of sales, PGS Custom Products, Schaumburg, Ill. “You don’t just have to buy a white, blue, red, green t-shirt.”

Retro-type t-shirts are seeing a surge — ringer tees (a white t-shirt with a blue ring around the collar and sleeve), three-quarter sleeves and two tones.

On the technology side, digital imaging has opened the doors for easily reproducing photographic images on any number of things — from t-shirts to clocks.

“We just sent a sample to a church called Living Cross and they have a tree outside that’s probably 150 feet high and looks like a cross,” says Brzizinski. “They took a picture of it with someone standing next to it, e-mailed us the picture, then we sent them that image on a shirt. If you tried to screen print it you couldn’t duplicate it. The more colors added to a screen-printed garment, the more expensive it becomes.”

Brzizinski adds that he worked with a camp last year that took a picture of everyone wearing their shirts, sent in the photo and had that photo printed on another shirt.

However, digital imaging is usually most cost-effective at shorter runs, though Brzizinski says he’s fulfilled an order for more than 1,000. But the technology raises the bar, and the possibilities.

Artwork is King

Whichever process is chosen, good artwork is paramount. For screen printing a good idea is to separate the colors into separate files, along with a master file that shows how all the colors go together.

But even to get this far, good, reproducible artwork makes everything easier.

“I’ve had to take logos off of shorts. They had to make a photocopy of the shorts and we had to recreate their logo,” says Great Ideas’ Rubin. “That certainly complicates things.”

The best advice here is to have a professional designer create clean artwork for you, and keep it on file ready to be sent to the printer.

If you do it yourself, don’t use an Office product like Word or PowerPoint to design it. Use CorelDRAW, Illustrator, or some program specifically designed for design.

Great Ideas’ Rubin also suggests getting a product proof, or at least a paper proof, of the design from your provider. You’ll not only want to see what it’s going to look like once produced, you’ll also get another chance to proof the copy so that when it comes back with the tagline, “A grate place for kids,” you can nip it in the bud.

And don’t forget about time; it tends to tick away, especially when you’re planning for a camp fair or the upcoming season. Make a list and check it twice. It’s not fun to realize you forgot to place that promised t-shirt order as you watch the kids file off the bus.

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