Several options are available to help you master the lucrative team-apparel market.
By Cara Cherry
Decorating athletic-team uniforms can become a staple or a core part of any sport goods or T-shirt store. While it’s important to know trends, it’s also a good idea to be familiar with uniform-decoration rules and regulations. Whether you’re working with the coach, athletic director, athlete, or parent, they are all counting on you to know what can and can’t be applied to a uniform or jersey. Because league rules may vary, be sure to check with the appropriate league or organization with which you’re working.
Government legislation also places requirements on products used to decorate children’s apparel. The Consumer Product Safety Information ACT (CPSIA) mandates that products, which will be worn by children under the age of 12, be below the minimum requirements for lead and phthalates or be lead- and phthalate-free. When decorating for this market, it’s important to verify that the uniform and the decorations are CPSIA certified. Many manufacturers of sports lettering and materials will provide a CPSIA certificate to decorators upon request.
Now that you’re familiar with some of the most popular techniques for decorating uniforms, let’s talk about some available customization opportunities. Decorating uniforms really is just the beginning. Coordinating bags, travel gear, socks, hats, armbands, headbands, footwear—if you can customize it, teams will buy it. In addition to offering apparel, many decorators are becoming full-service providers by offering banners, graphics, window decals, and custom helmet decals. Get to know your customers, learn their buying habits, and then provide them with custom solutions to meet their needs.
Many vendors also offer online uniform builders that take customers through the entire uniform-decorating process. They can upload art, select designs, choose from different styles of apparel, and then place their order. It’s an easy and convenient way to score repeat business.
While uniform trends are often driven by professional and college sports, fashion trends often drive things like fan wear. Male and female players require different uniforms and often want different decorations, too. Staying abreast of trends and being familiar with the latest styles is very important when it comes to this business. Knowing what’s in and what’s out will keep you on top of the game when it comes to decorating team wear for your customers.
Cara Cherry is a freelance writer located in Michigan. Her industry experience includes more than five years working for a well-known manufacturer of materials and equipment for garment decorating. In addition, she has serves as a marketing and public relations consultant for several different companies and is a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). She has written articles for various industry publications and can be reached at email@example.com.
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