Stitches Small Business Volume 93 / May 20, 2014


Fall Into Work
Work wear giant Dickies (asi/49675) gave Stitches a sneak peek at the company's new products and innovations for fall.

Click here to watch the video.


The long-awaited warm weather is finally here, and consumers are celebrating the collective break of their cabin fever with tank tops. Their popularity makes them an ideal promotional item, and fortunately, suppliers offer more styles than ever before. While choices used to be primarily limited to one – 100% ribbed cotton – today's abundant fabric, cut and color selections give distributors the opportunity to make perfect suggestions to their clients.

"For the last year and a half, tank tops have just been on fire," says Mark Seymour, vice president of sales at Next Level Apparel (asi/73867). "Women love racerback tanks, and our strongest selling fabrics are the burnout, tri-blend and French terry. We also have a lululemon-style fine jersey tank that's easier to print on than traditional ribbed tanks. We added spandex to give it some stretch, and started offering it in neon colors, which really gave it momentum. It's perfect for yoga studios, gyms and resorts."

Christian Cochran, wholesale representative at American Apparel (asi/35297), says the Unisex Poly-Cotton Tank Top (BB408) comes in neutrals, solids, neons and heathers, and does well almost every spring/summer season. "We've also had a lot of buzz around the new Unisex Power Washed Tank (2411)," he says. "It's luxuriously soft and treated in an enzyme wash for a looser fit and drape that's extremely fashionable right now."

When it comes to fabrics, Kristin Slinn, designer/merchandising manager at L.A. T Sportswear (asi/65948), says consumers look for the softest constructions they can find, like combed ringspun cotton and lightweight jersey. "They want a soft and supple fabric," she explains. "Plus, jersey is much easier to print on than ribbed tanks."

Slinn says that tanks from L.A. T have sold best in the resort, spirit/dance/cheer and Greek-wear markets, while Next Level has sold significantly into the fitness industry, including promotions for CrossFit programs, hot yoga studios and gyms. "Health and nutrition is another popular application," says Seymour. "It's a natural fit for incentives and giveaways. For example, you buy $75 worth of supplements and you receive a free tank."

When it comes to embellishment, "the sky's the limit," says Slinn. "We're finding that innovative, fashion-forward screen prints and large block-letter text dominate right now."  Seymour adds that it depends on the market: "Soft, comfortable fabrics are best for working out, and those prints will be water-based, softhand plastisol or sublimated," he says. "On the other hand, for resorts and dance/cheer, there's more flash and bling and the decoration locations vary. I've even seen text printed vertically down the center of racerback tanks."

American Apparel's items have taken everything from puff prints to unique sublimation designs. "For styles containing spandex, consider a stretch additive," Cochran says. "This will maintain the quality of the print on an activewear tank."


If your decorating business is showing signs of lethargy, it may be time to boost your sales with a bit of low-cost marketing.

Stu Nelson, CEO of BareBones WorkWear, suggests finding out what your competition isn't doing, and then make that what sets you apart. "Specialize and differentiate," says Nelson. "Be the first one in your area to use specialized methods like sublimation or rhinestone embroidery." Then, advertise that fact using the full range of touch points with customers, otherwise known as omnichannel marketing. "Get to know this concept," Nelson says, "and embrace all the methods for connecting with your customers: e-mail, social, storefront, website, LinkedIn, mobile, gift cards, direct mail, outside sales."

Nelson also recommends jazzing up your packaging by using imprinted cardboard boxes and throwing in further temptations such as coupons or affordable promotional items like candy or keychains. If you have talents as a host or hostess, Nelson suggests throwing a biannual VIP party for your top customers. "You have to give to get," he says. "Hold a cocktail mixer with great food and unique entertainment, and have your best customers bring a friend or business associate that might have an interest in your services. This is a great retention strategy and worth the effort."

Mike Little, president of Eagan, MN-based Team Mates, Inc., takes a more holistic view of marketing. "Marketing is a funny thing," begins Little. "You can spend a huge amount of money and contact perhaps 3% of the [intended] audience." Instead of viewing marketing as a more-is-more type of approach, Little recommends first turning a pitiless eye upon your business to determine your strengths and weaknesses, then designing a plan for improvement. Sifting through previous commercial relationships will help find which did and did not work, and why. This also enables the decorator to pinpoint their most ideal customers and encourage them to return for more. "This was all free and became a foundation for our marketing," says Little. The ultimate goal in this approach is to boost your word-of-mouth advertising, which you can rely upon your most loyal customers to provide once you've demonstrated your commitment to securing their trust and ongoing patronage.

"Find out what your best customers want," Little says. "[They] won't hesitate to refer other customers for you."


Preview: Inside Dickies’ Fall 2014 Collection

This fall, Dickies (asi/49675) is going off the grid: Its upcoming collection of durable work and performance wear hearkens back to the "lumberjack in the woods… put through the Dickies filter," says Jen Holmes, an associate designer for the brand. Holmes and other Dickies representatives gave Wearables a preview of the fall 2014 collection at the company's showroom in New York's Garment District last month.

The new collection combines utilitarian, functional design with earthy colors and fresh patterns. Dickies delivers an array of durable, comfortable basics, many with a more tapered, trendy silhouette, that can easily double as workwear and weekend-wear. "Versatility is a huge thing for us," Holmes says.

New this fall is a partnership with CORDURA brand fabric. Five pieces in the Dickies Performance System for men are made with the durable nylon fabric, engineered to have the natural look and feel of cotton while providing superior abrasion resistance. Holmes describes the pieces – a hooded jacket, collared coat and three styles of pants – as "super heavy-duty." Also featured for men are several styles of Work Tech Fleece, from pullovers to full-zip hoodies. Available in several vibrant colors, the lightweight poly-bonded fleece is smooth on the outside and brushed on the inside. The fabric is water-resistant to protect wearers from the elements.

The new ringspun work pants for men – durable, but softer than older styles – features stain and wrinkle resistance and comes in slim taper, regular taper and regular straight fits. The brand's "better work shirts" feature twill, poplin, chambray and denim options, all featuring softer fabric and updated construction.

The brand's sanded duck insulated hooded jacket now comes in a True Timber camouflage print, which Holmes says comes in at a more accessible price point for the typical Dickies customer.

Dickies expanded its performance system offerings for women this fall, highlighting a head-to-toe look with hoodies, fleece pants and a high-tech T-shirt that boasts fast-drying fabric with stain repellency, odor neutralization and UPF protection. "Women are really trending up for us," Holmes says. The updated Sherpa bonded-fleece jacket, with a roll collar and roll-up sleeves, features a slimmer, attractive fit, while still providing warmth, softness and comfort. "Our sales team calls it a warm hug," Holmes says of the jacket.

Among the highlights from its licensing group: super-durable men's socks and belts made from Kevlar as well as a line of car mats and accessories. "Our number-one competitor in car accessories is Hello Kitty," says Esther Lee, U.S. and international licensing manager. "There was nothing out there for the average Joe who wanted something plain and affordable."



Social media expert Marki Lemons-Rhyal shares a few tips on how to promote and protect your brand online. The first step is just showing up: "Most companies aren't even getting started, and once they do get started, they believe that it's going to be a one-hit wonder," she said. Lemons-Rhyal talks about how to stay consistent, set a strategy and goals, and use tools like Google Trends to grow your online audience. Visit the homepage for more.




Basket Weave Knit: The process of weaving yarns back and forth resulting in a two-tone appearance.

Collarette: The trim around the neck of a T-shirt or sweatshirt.

Hoop mark: The temporary marks that remain on the fabric after the embroidery hoop has been removed (also referred to as a Hoop Ring). Such marks can typically be removed using steam or Magic Sizing spray.


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American Apparel (asi/35297) announced that its total company sales in the first quarter were $137.1 million, a 1% year-over-year decline. Comparable store sales for the Los Angeles-based apparel firm fell 7% in Q1, but the decrease was tempered by a 7% increase in wholesale net sales – which include revenues within the ad specialty industry.

Ash City USA (asi/37127), now part of alphabroder (asi/34063), has announced that it will offer Alternative Apparel (asi/34850), Gildan Activewear (asi/56842) and Jerzees (asi/84257) apparel within Canada. Canadian customers will be able to shop each collection at Click here to download the digital version of the catalog. In addition, Ash City now offers a weekly webinar series called "Webinar Wednesdays," during which distributors can learn about proven sales techniques and tips. To register, visit

Bodek and Rhodes (asi/40788) announced that John Smucker, an account manager with the company, died suddenly on May 4 at Lancaster General Hospital. He was 25.

Charles River Apparel (asi/44620) has added five new styles to its product line for spring. In addition, the company has added new 360° product videos to its website. Click here to view the new spring products.

ClipArtBoom offers the Player Pack that includes 16 interactive athletic tails and 14 collegiate name and number designs in CorelDRAW, Adobe Illustrator (AI) and EPS file formats. To view the available designs, visit

Dalco Athletic now offers the new Slice pre-cut heat-applied lettering concept that features Yikes font with contrasting colors on the top and bottom. Choose from Dal-Glitter or Dal-Sparkle material. Go to to learn more.

The FabricLink Network has expanded its Searchable Indexes with the addition of a free Cut & Sew Contractors Index to the existing Supplier's Searchable Indexes. Go to for more information.

Fossil Inc., the parent company of supplier Fossil Corporate Markets (asi/55145), has reported its sales for the quarter ended April 5, increased 14% to $777 million. 

Gildan Activewear (asi/56842) announced it achieved increases in both sales and profits in its most recent quarter. The company said that its net sales reached $548.8 million, growth of 4.9%, in its fiscal second quarter, which ended on March 30. Gildan also reported that its net earnings in the period increased by 8.9% to $79.2 million.

Graphic Solutions Group will host an open house on July 18 and the company's Tulsa, OK, location, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will feature a facilities tour, free lunch, vendor showcase, equipment demos and more. Visit for more information.

HanesBrands (asi/59528) has reported its total first-quarter sales increased by 12% to a record $1.06 billion. Operating profit soared 34% and adjusted EPS for the quarter rose to $0.76 from $0.51 in 2013.

Hotronix announced that any customer who purchases a heat press in May will receive free ground freight shipping in the continental United States. This offer excludes Air Fusion and Dual Air Fusion heat presses. Visit for more information.

HTT Apparel & Headwear (asi/58842) announced that Howard Seeger, the owner of the supplier firm, passed away on April 24 after suffering from illnesses over the past few years. He was 76 years old.

Imprintables Warehouse (asi/58475) now offers the new Red Press, a 16" x 20" clamshell heat press designed for light- to medium-weight volume jobs or home use. Visit for more information.

Inkcups welcomes Frank Xiao to the company's China sales division. Previously, Xiao spent eight years in the heat-transfer industry in China, and will now focus on sales in the Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces.

Inksoft has added 1,022 new designs to the existing 8,000 pieces of clip art and templates in Design Studio, its online designer program. Visit for more information.


Marathon Mfg. & Supply Co./Prestige Lines Inc. (asi/68707) have announced they will no longer be affiliated as of September 30, 2014. As part of the transition, Marathon is asking that all orders, invoices, payments and inquiries be made directly to Marathon Mfg. & Supply Co going forward.

Penn Emblem Company (asi/77120) announced that Herb Lotman, the company's chairman of the board, died on May 8 from complications of heart failure. He was 80.

Proforma (asi/300094) has received three 2014 American Inhouse Design Awards from Graphic Design USA for the design and concepts in its marketing programs. Proforma was honored for its 2014 calendar and the event collateral and packaging related to its annual incentive trip for owners earning more than $1 million in annual sales. Proforma has now been recognized with multiple Inhouse Design Awards for seven consecutive years.

Roland DGA (asi/18201) has announced that, from now through July 31, any customer who buys a new VersaUV LEC-330 or LEC-540 will receive a copy of CGS ORIS Color Tuner/Web software for free. Visit for more information.

Rymax Marketing Services, Inc. has entered into a new partnership with Damson and provides Rymax with the exclusive distribution rights for Damson's portable wireless speakers. The Twist, Jet and Vulcan models are now available in Rymax's employee recognition, customer loyalty and corporate gifting programs.

SanMar (asi/84863) has released its newest collection from District and District Made that includes 30 new styles for both men and women. For more information, visit

Sawgrass recently received the Mutoh Platinum Partner Award at Mutoh's International Dealer meeting during the ISA International Sign Expo 2014 in Orlando.

Sportsmaster Apparel (asi/88998) was recently awarded a bid to make up to 24,000 jackets, all 100% made in the USA, for the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps. The Defense Logistics Agency awarded Sportsmaster the contract, and will pay the supplier $7.5 million over the next five years to cover costs associated with the jacket manufacturing. The apparel will be sold to high schools with JROTC programs.

Stahls' (asi/88984) was recently featured in The New York Times for its role in decorating NFL draft pick jerseys for the annual Draft Day. Stahls' used pre-spaced text and a Hotronix heat press at the event for instant, on-demand personalization. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was then able to hand each player a personalized jersey fewer than two minutes after the announcement of each pick. Read the entire article here. In addition, Stahls' invites its customers to enter for a chance to win a trip with Ted and Mary Stahl in The Great Race, a cross-country antique car race that begins June 21 in Ogunquit, ME, and ends June 29 in The Villages, FL. The winner will help the Stahls' team navigate the route to finish the race in record time. Visit for contest rules and to enter.

Sweda Company LLC (asi/90305) has hired Campbell Brown Korbel as marketing manager.

T-Biz Network announces that Scott and Mike Fresener have relocated the Printers Boot Camp from Nashville to Bowling Green, KY, and have extended the event to four days, from July 31 through August 3. Classes include the One-Day Basics of Computer Graphics Boot Camp on July 31, and the Three-Day T-Shirt Printers Boot Camp from August 1-3. For more information, go to

Transfer Express (asi/91804) has improved its Easy View Designer with an added 5,000 layouts and clip art. View the demo videos here.

The Wild Side now offers sugar skull designs as plastisol heat transfers, rhinestone designs, rhinestud designs and puff print. Visit to see all product options.



Visit to enjoy the business-building content and rich multi-media features in the January 2014 Productivity Issue.


May 29-June 1, Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show
(239) 732-6642; www.lasvegasantiquejewelr

June 2-5, Vancouver, BC; Calgary, AB; Edmonton, AB
Advantages Roadshow
(800) 546-3300;

June 8-11, Marlboro, MA
New England Apparel Club Show
(781) 326-9223;

Ask Phil presented by FLEXFIT

Q: Help! Are there any suppliers out there that carry burnout T-shirts for men? – Hugo

A: Before you burn yourself out, try the Men's Burnout Jersey Short Sleeve Tee (TM17898) from Trimark Powered by Leed's (asi/66888); (724) 334-9000;; it's a comfy poly/cotton blend available in several men's sizes. Or, dress the men in style with the Alternative Big League Burnout Baseball T-Shirt (AA2640) or the Bella+Canvas Men's Burnout Tee (3601) from Broder Bros., Inc. (asi/42090); (800) 521-0850;

Your client can also take fashion to the next level with Next Level Apparel (asi/73867); (310) 631-4955;; the Men's Burnout V (6140) features a V-neck and is available in eight eye-catching colors.

Selling Tip: Women aren't the only ones who appreciate trendy styles. Men have adopted trends like V-necks, bright colors and many decoration techniques such as burnout and sublimation.

Q: Dear Phil,
I need a source for train conductor caps in the classic blue and white striped pattern. I appreciate any help you can offer! – Rich

A: All aboard! Steer toward Adcapitol (asi/31260); (704) 283-2147;; for the Authentic Railroad Engineer's Cap (NC450), a twill hat with a pleated top, center band and covered visor. Savvy conductors can also sport the denim Conductor Cap (2110) from Mega Cap Inc. (asi/70434); (909) 581-1121;; a classic cap with adjustable Velcro closure. It's also available in a youth version (2110Y).

One more supplier to track is Cobra Cap (asi/45575); (214) 503-1400;; the navy and white Engineer Cap (ENG) is made of cotton yarn-dyed canvas with an elastic closure. Choo choo!

Selling Tip: Retro-inspired caps are fashion-forward choices for young men and women. The train conductor style is popular, as well as the "newsboy" look and the always-stylish fedora.

Q: Phil,
My client has been asking for bright-colored garment bags (purple, specifically), but I'm having a hard time locating them. Can you help? – Alyson

A: You've got this in the bag. First, check out Brave USA (asi/41630); (435) 753-8100;; the Long John Garment Bag (GB2466), the Uniform Garment Bag (GB81), the Band Aide Garment Bag (GB818) and the Day Traveler Garment Bag (GB44) are all available in this elusive hue.
Next, zip on over to Sport Systems Custom Bag Corp. (asi/88782); (401) 767-3770;; for the Standard Garment Bag (480), the Leather Trim Garment Bag (426), and the Dress Traveler Bag (482). These nylon/polyester essentials will fit your client's needs. Finally, head to Winpak Mfg. (asi/97477); (714) 839-1988;; for product 90510, a sturdy 22-inch by 19-inch garment bag with two carrying handles and a D-ring strap for easy hanging.

Selling Tip: Logoed garment bags would make a fabulous gift with purchase for bridal shops, tuxedo rental stores and any other establishment that sells formalwear.

Q: Hey Phil,
I need your assistance with a customer request. They need nice dress shirts or blouses in maternity sizes. Any ideas? Thanks! – Brenda

A: Mommies-to-be will love the Port Authority Maternity Long Sleeve Easy Care Shirt (L608M) from SanMar (asi/84863); (206) 727-3200;; it features wrinkle-resistance, cotton/poly construction and an adjustable back tie.

In addition, they'll enjoy the Ladies' 3/4 Sleeve Poplin Swing Shirt from Blue Generation (asi/40653); (888) 336-4687;; it's got stain-release and wrinkle-resistant properties, hemmed sleeves, double back yoke and two back side pleats. One more choice is the cotton/acrylic/nylon Women's 3/4 Sleeve Maternity Stretch Blouse (5029) from Edwards Garment Co. (asi/51752); (800) 253-9885;; it comes in French blue, pink and white.

Selling Tip: When clients ask for maternity clothing, don't forget to suggest logoed outfits for baby as well! Tiny apparel is sure to get big attention for your customer's brand.

Got a question for Phil? If you can't find what you're looking for in the Embroiderers Sourcing Guide, write to: Stitches, Attn: Phil Stitch, 4800 Street Road, Trevose, PA 19053. Or fax your question to: (215) 953-3107. For the quickest response, e-mail Additionally, Phil is now answering social media inquiries through the Stitches magazine Facebook site. Click here to connect with the world's greatest product guru on Facebook! For RN inquiries, visit for the RN database link.

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