Eye On Apparel - Wovens: What's Trending In Corporate Apparel
Given a choice, most people would rather wear stretchy, athleisure-type clothes to the office. If you’re more comfortable you’ll be able to relax more and be better at your job, right? Not so fast. It turns out that our brains actually perform better if we’re dressed more formally. Recent studies show that our cognitive abilities are enhanced when we ditch the yoga pants and don the blazer.
In 2015, The Journal of Social Psychology and Personality Science published “The Cognitive Consequences of Formal Clothing,” in which it reported the results of a study tracking the work performance of participants who were tested wearing both casual and formal clothing. The study found that abstract thinking skills, such as those a senior executive would need to utilize, and the ability to more quickly see the big picture and think more creatively, improved when participants dressed more formally.
This may come as a disappointment to corporate professionals hoping their workplaces will extend casual Friday to casual every day. After all, there’s little worse than waking up late, especially while on a work trip, and realizing you need to iron your Oxford—and maybe even your blazer.
The good news is that apparel manufacturers feel your pain. And increasingly they’re offering many woven uniform apparel options—even suits—that mimic the comfort of athletic performance wear, with a stretchier feel, moisture-wicking technology, stain-resistance, UV protection and wrinkle-free, wash and wear capability. Consider these hardworking, comfortable woven picks for corporate apparel programs.
The Van Heusen feather stripe dress shirt is a 60/40 cotton and polyester blend that offers easy care with a wrinkle-free, polished look. A contrast stripe trim inside the collar, placket and cuffs adds an interesting detail while the pearl buttons, pleated back and two-button adjustable cuffs make this shirt comfortable and stylish. It’s available in French grey, light blue and purple.
Heritage Sportswear UPIC: HERI0002 www.HeritageSportswear.com
The Wicked Woven® is an upgraded dress shirt designed with breathable Vansport™ moisture-wicking fabric to keep you cool and comfortable all day. It’s wrinkle-resistant, so it looks great without ironing, and easy-care machine wash and dry means no dry cleaning is needed. Made of 55-percent cotton/45-percent polyester, this shirt even has UV protection.
Vantage Apparel UPIC: vantage www.vantageapparel.com
Many political candidates want to exclusively wear clothing made in the U.S. during their campaigns. But it can be challenging to find U.S.-made dress shirts. These customizable dress shirts are not only made in the U.S.A., but they can have contrasting collars and buttons as well as topstitching in any thread color you want.
AKWA UPIC: AKWA www.akwa.com
These retail-inspired, fully lined, polyester washable suit separates have a contemporary weave and exceptional style. With an improved new fit, these separates are lightweight and stretch with the wearer for all-day comfort. The best part is the ability to launder at home and avoid the dry cleaners.
Edwards Garment Company UPIC: EDWARDSG www.edwardsgarment.com
Crisp tailoring and a classic windowpane pattern make this shirt pop. An enhanced non-iron finish keeps it looking composed throughout the day. Created with 40-singles and 80-doubles yarn, this two-ply 100-percent cotton shirt has single-needle tailoring. Other details include a hidden button-down collar, notched patch pocket, Red House® engraved buttons and embroidery on the right sleeve placket.
SanMar UPIC:SNMR www.sanmar.com
This unisex non-button vest is made from 7.5-ounce 65/35 poly/cotton twill and features two six-inch side pockets, which are great for hands-on workplaces. Stock colors are black, red, royal, navy, white and natural. Choose black, white or matching color binding.
Aprons, Etc. UPIC: Aprons www.ApronsEtc.com
Wovens Aren’t Just For Work
Check out these playful options
Lightweight and quick-drying with Omni-Shade™ UPF 30 sun protection, this hardworking Columbia fishing shirt is great for brands that mesh with the outdoor lifestyle. It’s available in sizes S-3XL and is vented for maximum comfort.
Bodek+Rhodes UPIC: ULTRACLB www.bodekandrhodes.com
These unique cloth wristbands are sure to get you noticed. Great for promoting concerts, nightlife, festivals, fairs and other promotional events, they are comfortable to wear even during week-long events. The adjustable cinch makes it a one-size-fits-all item. Choose either an adjustable clasp for multi-use or a locking clasp for one-time use.
Essef Distributors UPIC: 7414140 www.lincolnline.com
Stahls’ Promo Marketing Manager Mary Blondell answers the most common decorating questions:
What are the best decorating techniques to choose for the different types of wovens? Traditionally, embroidery is the most common method of decoration onto wovens, especially on business shirts and uniforms. Embroidered logos are the natural fit since their thread base is similar to the woven fabric. Embroidery is considered a professional, quality look with a perceived high-quality value. Patches are often woven twill backing with full embroidery or only embellished in areas to enhance the logo or design. An alternative to embroidery is heat transfers that provide very fine detail text and graphics or photo-realistic graphics that heat-apply perfectly on wovens. Whether you have a one-color logo or multi-color logos, you can heat-apply a transfer that is crisp, clean and extremely durable. Heat transfers are a perfect solution for businesses that add employees and need short-run orders with quick turn times, like restaurants, landscape companies or hotel staffing.
What are techniques that should be avoided? Typically, wovens are not screen printed. Screen printing is more suited for t-shirts and more of a large run order with only one-, two- or three-color logos or designs. Most wovens cannot be laser-etched without destroying the weave.
Is there anything else that is important to understand about decorating wovens? It is important to qualify your client’s request for decoration on wovens and determine if it’s a business uniform or promotional event, and what is the budget and volume. Another important question is whether there will be a short run with quick turnaround. There are a variety of decorating methods and it is important to understand which ones will work best on all fabrics, including woven shirts, bags and headwear.
Why Pick A Woven Patch?
If you have clients who need logos for woven apparel items, woven patches are a great and affordable option, especially if the logo or image has small details. “With an embroidered patch, you’re taking the thread and sewing it into a backing, so the logo threads are bumpy and the image is less sharp. Usually, there is also a stitch count limitation with embroidery, so it’s not as good a choice if you have a detailed logo or image,” explains Kimberly Damp, sales and marketing coordinator for Jackson, Wisconsin-based WOV-IN® (UPIC: WOV-IN). “With woven patches, the threads are all woven together at the same time so the patch and logo are smooth and flat. And because of WOV-IN®’s unique custom process, even detailed images or logos look crisp,” she adds.
WOV-IN®’s U.S.-made patches include an adhesive backing for heat press or regular iron application. “Patches are available with an optional merrowed edge accent around the full patch, although logoed apparel patches usually look more professional directly heat pressed without a merrowed edge,” says Damp. To make your client’s patch really stand out, she recommends having it die cut into a custom shape.
For clients who have a limited budget, Damp suggests woven stickers. “Let’s say you’re having an event but you don’t have the budget to get logoed shirts for everyone. Instead, you can have everyone wear the same color and put a woven sticker in the same place on the shirt. It will still look like everyone’s on the same team. Or if you did order shirts but the logo turned out wrong, woven stickers can cover up the incorrect logo for a fraction of the cost of reordering the shirts.”
Julie Richie is associate editor for PPB.