April 10th 2013 saw the beginning of my 25th year within the print and embroidery industry. As you would expect, there have been major technological advances during this time, meaning new and improved printing methods with more user friendly inks. The embroidery machines have become more sophisticated and are able to stitch with precision at a much faster pace, having more needles per head reducing the need to change threads as often. Even the range of garments available for personalisation has seen tremendous growth. For example knitwear used to be one of our core product ranges, however looking at the range we have today, you can even personalise onesies.
The industry has seen trends come and go, and then come around again – as trends tend to do! What I personally think has been a real change, and an important change, is the purpose of the personalised garment. What was once purchased purely as an item of uniform, be it school, corporate or military, has now become an item of leisurewear, often to provide a souvenir or keepsake for those involved. For example school leaver’s hoodies are hugely popular, often including the names of all the leavers in a particular year and giving the wearer a reminder of their classmates. We have supplied many charities with printed t-shirts for their fund raising efforts, the participants wearing them with pride long after the half-marathon blisters have healed! Our military personnel use personalised tourwear as a moral boosting exercise, involving the whole regiment in the design and having a souvenir of their tour of duty once they return safely home. Even individuals are purchasing items as gifts – grooms for their brides to be. For example zip hoodies to be worn by the bride on the morning of the wedding. Families are more inclined to want a memento from their annual holiday to Florida, especially as the popularity of larger parties holidaying together grows.
My own children have long since outgrown some hoodies that they wore for a very special Christmas visit to Disneyland Paris, but I wouldn’t dream of throwing them out. The hoodies help to prompt our memories of this time together. Yes, the memories would still be there, but a visual reminder adds a little something else.