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Creative Destruction of the Best Kind in the Decorated Apparel Industry

The decorated apparel industry in the United States is stronger and more diverse than ever thanks in large part to the latest advances in technology

By Adam Cort, Content Director

Advances in apparel decorating tech have made for a robust and increasingly diverse industry domestically, in contrast to the experience of many other U.S. industries. Photo by Andrey Popov

May 24, 2023

Among the things Austrian-born economist Joseph Schumpeter is best known for is his promotion of the idea of “creative destruction” or the “process of industrial mutation that continuously revolutionizes the economic structure from within.” Think car manufacturers putting buggy whip manufacturers out of work or personal computers consigning the typewriters of the world to the dustbin of history.

Whether Schumpeter’s “gale,” as it’s also known, is a good thing, remains open to debate. Each new mode of production, transportation or communication, for example, also means a lot of people being thrown out of work, with more than a few of them unable to find gainful employment in the resulting economy du jour. That said, taking another look at the pages of our most recent “innovation” issue,” I think it’s safe to say when it comes to decorated apparel, the industry has been extraordinarily successful at taking advantage of the creative side of capitalism while at the same time avoiding the “destructive” part of the equation.

Roaming the past couple of Impressions Expos, I was also repeatedly struck but how today’s cutting-edge products and services don’t just make it easier to do business, they make it easier for newcomers to the industry to get started as well, no matter their background. The latest in digital decorating, for example, isn’t putting screen printers out of work, merely giving them additional options at the same time it opens the doors for the latest generation of startups. Same thing with today’s increasingly reliable and easy-to-use embroidery technologies, and digital business processes and sales. So it goes, round and round in an industry in which everyone willing to put in the work wins, and a rising tide really does lift all boats.