Lane Seven: Meeting Needs of a Changing Apparel Segment
Apparel blank manufacturer Lane Seven Apparel showed a range of new products at this year’s PRINTING United Expo, says Milissa Gibson, the company’s sales director. These include a 100% recycled fleece at a low price point – “under nine bucks” – and a new, blended line of t-shirts.
A Growing Range of Printable Blanks
Gibson says she is seeing a trend toward heavyweight fabrics in the market, as apparel manufacturing shifts to match the preferences of younger generations strongly influenced by what they’re seeing in the retail market. The drive toward heavyweight fabrics may also stem from consumers seeking a more relaxed fit, she said, indicating that the lockdown and limited activity of COVID-19 may have brought about “the COVID 10.”
These preferences, she says, extend across verticals – consumers are seeking similar styles and colors. Nearly all the shades featured in Lane Seven’s booth were muted – muted colors often touching upon hues associated with nature. Gibson expects that trend to continue into next year. For 2024, she says Lane Seven is adding more “collegiate colors” to its offerings, to round out its assortment. In so doing, the company will add six colors, “close to PMS-specific to answer the call of the collegiate and school market." A new crewneck will also be added in the year ahead.
Gibson says the quality of the garment product has become much more important to those purchasing them. “For a long time, people got away with less-than-retail quality, but that is changing."
Trends in the Apparel Space
Asked about trends she is seeing in the apparel decoration segment, Gibson she is being contacted by decorators looks for blanks for direct-to-film printing, and that technology, she says, answers the need for smaller quantities and helps reduce labor costs. She expects that as the use of AI-generated art expands, “we will be seeing more real-life, color artwork. "DTF can help with that." She believes the technology – which is proving to be transformative – removes barriers and fear because it is, “very close to a sign-shop application,”
In screen printing, she says she is seeing an increased used of water-based inks: “more shops are going that way.” Finally, she is seeing increased use of specialty applications, such as textile embossing.
By understanding the production needs of its apparel decorating customers, Lane Seven adjusts its product line, following – and even anticipating – industry trends.