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Recap: Impressions Expo Long Beach 2020

By Dustin Shrader, Managing Editor

February 10, 2020

Every year, the Impressions editorial team highly anticipates traveling to the Imprinted Sportswear Show (ISS) event in Long Beach, Calif. This year, however, the excitement was even more palpable due to the event’s rebranding under a new moniker: Impressions Expo. Nearly a year in the making, rebranding the decorated apparel’s premier industry trade show was a mountain to climb, entailing meetings upon meetings but peaking with new ideas and a successful first staging.

Impressions Expo Long Beach 2020 offered fantastic opportunities for networking, education, new-product displays and more. Attendees expanded their industry knowledge with Impress U, the newly updated conference program that offered 50 new seminars and 12 workshops. The Ink Kitchen’s “Shop Talk” series featured an array of unique speakers discussing various topics from all facets of the industry.

It wasn’t all work and no play, as the event’s first day wound down with the Impressions Expo RuckUs concert headlined by Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray fame and Long Beach’s very own Sublime. Both acts gave electric performances, allowing exhibitors, attendees and more to bask in music nostalgia.

Each day, the Impressions editorial team walked the show floor searching for new products and buzzworthy trends at each booth. In case you missed it, the following are a few highlights that caught our collective eye.

Branding is Key
Hanes unveiled its new Brandwear United campaign, aimed at providing customers with a single source for a variety of “high-quality, eco-friendly and consumer-right brands at your fingertips,” according to the company. The four brands include Hanes, the original staple; ComfortWash, garment-dyed apparel with vintage washes and ultimate softness; Alternative, soft, lived-in apparel rooted in sustainability; and Champion, a leader in sports apparel since 1919 revamped for modern fashion and athletic style.

Gildan launched its Gildan Product Locator app, a convenient system for searching any product from the Gildan family of brands. With just a click, users can check inventory levels, receive notifications from any of the company’s six brands and connect with distributors directly from a mobile device.

Increased Support for Sustainability
As climate change makes its effects felt across the globe, the decorated-apparel industry is more conscious of this new reality than ever before. Exhibitors emphasized inventive ways to combat pollution without further exacerbating the problem. Recycling and eliminating plastic was a notable trend for many apparel companies.

New Year, New Ink
Screen-printing inks have evolved in recent years. Impressions Expo Long Beach featured a few exhibitors pulling out all the stops for advancing their ink technology.

PolyOne Specialty Inks launched its Zodiac Aquarius Digital Hybrid eco-conscious water-based ink system. Consisting of a white underbase and matte topcoat, the new inks are designed to protect and enhance digitally printed garments, producing a soft, flexible hand; matte finish; and vibrant colors, while also helping to improve wash durability. In addition to viewing live printing demonstrations throughout the show, attendees could explore PolyOne’s comprehensive portfolio of screen-printing inks, from water-based and silicone to plastisol and non-PVC plastisol ink technologies from the company’s Wilflex, Rutland, Zodiac, Union Ink and Printop brands — all in one space.

MagnaColours also debuted a new product in the form of MagnaTrans, a new range of water-based inks, migration blocker, adhesives, fixer and films. The water-based inks are suitable for both traditionally screen-printed transfers and digital transfer printing systems. The base inks are available in white, neutral and black, with a collection of special-effects inks featuring metallic silver, two-tone, reflective, UV-reactive and glow-in-the-dark properties.

Printers are Trending
Direct-to-garment (DTG) printing continues to elevate itself through advanced technology and the innovative combination of screen and digital printing.

Epson debuted its first industrial DTG printer: the SureColor F3070. It leverages dual-printhead technology and a bulk ink-pack system. It features an all-new automatic garment height adjustment with easy user maintenance to increase production. It is compatible with a variety of fabric types, including cotton, linen and rayon.

The Inkcups display featured the company’s Brite, B100, ICN-2200PS and B150 pad printers, as well as the CobaltONE and Cobalt 2000 laser plate-makers. During the show, the Brite, B100, ICN-2200PS and B150 machines printed high-quality, one- and two-color prints on T-shirts.
Inkcups also wowed the crowd with live plate-etching demonstrations using the CobaltONE and

MHM announced it will incorporate Memjet’s DuraFlex technology in its iQ Oval textile printing press. The partnership is the first textile application for Memjet, creating a turnkey, retrofit garment-printing solution with the speed, quality and ease of use garment manufacturers need to succeed in a changing market, according to the company. MHM’s iQ Oval is a modular, safe and easy-to-operate DTG printing press, configured for almost any production requirement and can be expanded to accommodate future growth.

Chromaline revealed its newest product innovation — the ChromaCoat 20, a single-screen automatic coating machine. It allows for consistent stencil thickness, exposure times and print results, according to the company. It features a full touchscreen panel, adjustable speed for fine-tuning emulsion over mesh (EOM), single-hand adjustment for various screen heights and much more.

The industry’s most notable, revolutionary clothing trend continues to rise in popularity. Nearly every apparel exhibitor — from the largest brands to smaller competitors — are incorporating athleisure offerings into their lines. It’s safe to say athleisure is no longer the new kid on the block, but has set up residence and is here to stay.

The 2019 Impressions Awards Winners
The winners of the 2019 Impressions Awards apparel-decorating competition were a hit at Impressions Expo, with attendees and exhibitors browsing the impressive designs in person. Don’t forget to look out for our call for submissions in late spring; we can’t wait to see what you’ve created!