Lately there have been some changes in the clothing industry that are noteworthy. At the time of this entry we received news that American Apparel, which had filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, is about to be absorbed by the giant Gildan. All by itself this does not seems to be a big deal. But in the context of what Gildan has accomplished it is. Here is why it is newsworthy.
Gildan, on its own, was the largest Tshirt manufacturer in the world. However, their line was limited to the extremely competitive standard tshirt lines. Many think that in order to maintain their market share, a decision was made to expand their presence into some of the higher end product lines or niche marketing.
Since Gildan has acquired both Comfort Colors and now, American Apparel it is now poised to increase its’ market share substantially. No entity comes close. Gildan now offers such a wide spectrum of product, that it quite frankly staggers the imagination.
Success builds on success.
When we shop the market for the best ” fit” for our clients, we ultimately end up buying a product that falls under the Gildan umbrella. Recently a client asked for the tri blend, Next Level tshirt. When asked why, the preference we were told was due to the hand (the way a fabric feels) and the weight. The Next Level tri blend is made of 50% polyester, 25% cotton, and 25% pre-shrunk Rayon. It is a fine shirt but was not in our clients budget. We pointed out that another style by Gildan was just as effective and at a much better price point. With the exception of the six colors listed below, this Gildan product is 100% ringspun combed cotton. And that is important because polyblends, like the Next Level 60/40 tend to bleed as a result of the curing process in screen printing.
This is not as much a concern when printing on cotton. Having said that, of the 30 plus colors available in this tshirt, only 6 are not 100% cotton.
The Next Level tri blend is 4.3 ounces and the Gildan style is 4.5 ounces.
Only the sports gray, dark heather,heather dark chocolate, heather maroon, heather navy and heather sapphire have varying degrees of polyester in their fiber.
Caution needs to be taken since white printed on red poly tend to turn pink. And in some cases it happens over a 72 hour cool down period, when the goods are traveling to the client. Thus the screen printed goods could leave the shop with a white print and arrive at the clients’ door pink. Not fun.
Comfort Colors is a real winner along with American Apparel. These two companies have separated themselves from the pack by offering items not readily available from most manufacturers. Comfort Colors offer a variety of weights and colors you may only find in their line. American Apparel offers styles, typically found only in their line. While both these companies’ price points are higher than the standard tshirt line, we find that clients who purchase them continue to come back for more time and time again. There is no doubt in our mind that their products are worth a little more. And in some cases, a lot more.
While American Apparel boasts a ” made in America” label at this time, it remains to be seen if Gildan will keep the operation in Los Angeles, California.
Comfort Colors gives the impression of being a smaller entity, usually lacking depth in their inventories. This had been made up by relatively quick turnarounds for anything missing from your clients order in the past. Now Gildan has moved its plant overseas and the time it takes to fulfill backorders has gone from 10 days to approximately 60 days. In a market where time is a key factor, it is vital to make sure your client know that the few missing pieces will probably arrive many weeks later. I just searched for 5 pieces of a missing item in an order. The best I could do was to get a 50/50 by Jerzees. The color was called by the same name, but was not an exact match. This waiting period needs to be addressed by Gildan or they may have shot themselves in the foot. I am sure that as good as it is, the loyal Comfort Colors clients may begin to look elsewhere for a suitable replacement.
Some clients need their goods delivered “yesterday” and need to be apprised of this all too common situation with Comfort Colors. However, the product is so good that we feel it is worth the wait in some cases.
60 days is way too long to wait for peace of mind when it comes to filling an order and have to begin the hunt for other suppliers of the missing pieces.
Out of the clear blue sky, another manufacturer has introduced what they call, their Collegiate line. They are offering 14 colors in a 5.6 ounce short sleeve stocked item similar to the Comfort Color line. I have been told that they will be able to dye, per request, long sleeve tee shirts as well. At this time we do not know what quantities are necessary, usually figured in pounds, to make a custom color production run. However, this may be the answer to the 60 day wait; more to be revealed…………..