Sublimation itself is becoming more mainstream, and some specific areas I am seeing growth in are sock decoration and arm sleeves.
Though these are not traditional awards products, awards companies have access to the perfect market in youth sports that also want these products.
The youth sports market seems to be growing, and with our socially connected society, those kids see the professional athletes wearing arm sleeves, socks, and other items and want their own.
All-over sublimation is typically used for these kinds of products. With all-over printing, there are two ways to decorate the garment. One is cut-and-sew and the other is decorating a pre-sewn garment after it’s been decorated, which saves you the cost and time of having to see the garment after it’s been decorated. This also overcomes creating your own pattern and figuring out how to sew it, which can be a challenge for many decorators. The downside is that you may have some blemishes and areas that don’t transfer well. We call those smiles and you have to prepare for them in your design process.
With cut-and-sew, decorate rolls of fabric and put them together so there are no blemishes. This is more of what you see with sports jerseys and solid bold colors. Pre-sewn items are common in fashion and design sectors where smiles blend in with the art.
—Aaron Montgomery, 2 Regular Guys, MontCo Consulting