T-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies are wardrobe staples for everyone. Consumers of comfort clothing will wear a well-designed tee under jackets and blazers; statement sweatshirts can be seen at the gym or, if you’re paying attention, even on many of Taylor Swift’s recent album performances; and hoodies, whether zip-up or pullover, remain a slightly edgy article of clothing that is embraced by youth-driven communities.
While I’m certain most of this information is not news to the corporate buyer, I believe that the most creative decoration options for these basics of the charity run have been ignored in favor of the always dependable, but rarely exciting, one and two-color screen print. While it’s considered budget-friendly to settle for this tried-and-true imprint method, in reality, other decoration options are often no more expensive than that simple application of one-color ink onto the surface of the fabric.
My favorite print method, which has become one of the industry’s most popular and exciting decoration methods for t-shirts and sweatshirts, is dye-sublimation. This method uses heat sensitive inks that turn into gas under the influence of heat, and become part of the structure of the material. In other words, the image is in the fabric, not on it. Therefore, the graphics don’t fade or crack, even after multiple washings, and the fabric remains breathable and touchable.
In addition, dye sublimation offers the ability to recreate logos and images in multiple colors and with extremely fine detail that is not possible with traditional screen printing. The colors are brighter and smoother – the detail is razor sharp. Overall, the look has a more retail-quality feel.
Dye sublimation works best on polyester and poly/cotton blends, which makes the all-cotton tee a poor candidate for this print method. But considering the popularity of the poly performance fabrics, this only adds another reason to take a fresh look at your brand strategy when planning the next shirt giveaway.
Whether your logo is recreated best in a simple 1-color treatment, or you have invested in lush, multi-color “statement” art, dye-sublimation printing should be top-of-mind for your next tee giveaway. In a world where every customer has a drawer full of discarded t-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies, make sure yours stands out. The shirt will be worn, and your brand will be noticed!