Editorial: We Live in Exciting Times…No, Really!

By any measure, the decorated-apparel industry is firing on all cylinders these days

By Adam Cort, Content Director

Packed conference sessions at the 2024 Impressions Expo trade show in Long Beach, California, were yet more evidence of the excitement pervading the decorated apparel industry these days. Photo courtesy of Impressions Expo

February 9, 2024

I confess, it’s become a bit of a pet peeve of mine the way the word “exciting” is used by the business community these days to describe pretty much anything and everything even remotely positive. I’m sorry, but is it really that “exciting” when a company hires, say, a new content director? That having been said, it really is an exciting time to be part of the decorated-apparel industry, as was evident at the recent Impressions Expo in Long Beach, California.

Out on the show floor, the incredible array of new products, equipment and blank apparel types was matched only by the enthusiasm of the participants themselves—both attendees and exhibitors. The numbers speak for themselves, with the main floor space selling out months in advance and attendance up nearly 7 percent over 2023, well surpassing pre-COVID levels—and the buzz was no less impressive.

Attendees, many of them new to the industry, flocked to see exhibitors and conference sessions alike, with packed rooms for a number of conference sessions. Similarly, the scores of exhibitors on hand also seemed genuinely, well, excited by the cornucopia of cutting-edge products they had on display: whether it was the latest in heat-transfer technology, or digital decorating and embroidery equipment that would have been inconceivable only a few years earlier.

Most impressive of all may have been the extent of the gains the industry continues to make with respect to the environment. Cynics may dismiss such efforts as mere “greenwashing,” but that’s simply not the case. Better dyes, fibers made from recycled plastic, an increased emphasis on the entire process by which their products are sourced, manufactured and distributed, the blank apparel sector, i particular, is clearly not only taking the challenge seriously, but doing its best to meet it.

Then, of course, there’s the advent of AI and all that means for the industry, the subject of multiple conference sessions and Shop Talk conversations. Pretty exciting stuff! Maybe it’s time I took another look at that pet peeve of mine.

Updated March 27, 2024