January 2021

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Market Trends: "We have been noticing a rising trend in gradients and ombre designs," says Jasmine Parks, athletic apparel product manager. "Single-ply reversibles in football, lacrosse and basketball have continued to increase in demand and fully sublimated bottoms for football and baseball are also garnering more interest." Technology and Initiatives: Parks reports that Champro is working on getting more advanced technologies such as high-speed printers and laser cutters, because having such tools will help advance speed-to- market efforts. Advice for Dealers: "With sublimation, you get a fully customized uniform at a great price," says Parks. "The price point continues to move down while product quality and options are on the rise. Lead times also continue to shorten, making sublimation an outstanding choice." The Future: "The challenges are not knowing when we have surges of orders, especially with the current, uncertain times," says Parks. "But we have prepared ourselves with new equipment to cover those surges. We will eventually switch fully to these new technologies and continue to research new ways to further advance our operational performance." n Market Trends: In 2020 and into 2021, ASICS is focusing on its four core sports: tennis, volleyball, wrestling and track and field. "We are seeing a very big swing to full custom designs in these sports," says Adam LaFollette, director of team sales at ASICS. "Teams are looking to be unique and stand out from other pro- grams. Therefore, simple color blocking differences on templated designs are becoming outdated." Technology and Initiatives: ASICS is focused on what sublimation means to its team division and to this end new technology, processes and products are in the works to help enhance turn times. "The faster we are to the market while maintaining our superb quality, the more meaningful we become to the consumer," notes LaFollette. Advice for Dealers: LaFollette advises team dealers to push sublimation because it provides teams with the opportunity to achieve a full unique look. Additionally, the turn times continue to get faster. The Future: "The sublimation is on an amazing track to continue to be a very large portion of the uniform market- place," says LaFollette. "Those brands that evolve their technology, processes and products in the space can reach a younger consumer in the market. The key is delivering product in a timely fashion as there are manufacturers now turning orders in a matter of days." n Market Trends: "Sublimation has been popular for some time because of its ability to achieve high-quality, full-color, all-over decoration," reports Jenna Sackett, Stahls' heat printing expert. "In the world of sportswear, we're seeing more and more sublimation-friendly blanks ranging from apparel like shorts, hoodies, headwear and children's wear to trendy accessories such as face masks, neck gaiters and towels." Technology and Initiatives: Stahls' offers a range of products to decorate sublimated fabrics and provides the service of sub- limated twill patches as well as custom sublimated numbers and transfers. "There are challenges in adding customization to sublimated shirts. They look great, but they're hard to decorate. If you're heat printing on sublimated garments, you need heat transfers that block dye migration," says SVP-sales Josh Ellsworth. Advice for Dealers: The use of all-over sublimated jerseys by team dealers is a continuing trend, according to Ellsworth. "The advantages are that jerseys arrive already printed and no further customiza- tion is needed. However, most team dealers know that there is always a need to add a new player, change a number or make some additions to a team jersey after ordering." The Future: Stahls' sees a rise in the demand for adding customization to sublimated gar- ments, a continuing trend of dealers taking advantage of all-over sublimation capabilities, and an increase in the types of performance apparel that can be sublimated. n Champro ASICS Stahls 59 • January 2021 sportstyle •

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