Ink Kitchen “Guide to ISS Long Beach” – #1

So, here’s post #1 of our recommendations of what to check out at Long Beach ISS this week. It isn’t what you might expect, since I don’t think seeing everything NEW! is all that important.

I’ll mention again that we don’t rave about companies because they are our sponsors. We turn that on its head. We were already using the sponsor companies’ products at our shops and raving about them and that is why they sponsor us.

One good reason to go to trade shows is to use that occasion to talk to your vendors there, all in one convenient place.  That place also has beer and coffee, great aids to talking. When you see your vendors you can also dig deep and see all they have going on. There is always stuff they have that you have taken for granted or overlooked.

Hanes and Champion will be at booth #1801, right near the main entrance to ISS in Long Beach. In the service of Hanes, we will be giving away some cool birthday presents at the Ink Kitchen booth #157 which is on the far left wall in the hall. It is the 40th anniversary of the “birth” of the Beefy T and Hanes has a great contest giving away shirts, produced in conjunction with yours truly, actually. Entry is free. Check them out and enter the contest.

My prediction is that in the next couple years that great basic stuff that is well made and classic is going to blow up. I recently read that LL Bean has 350,000 pairs of Bean boots on backorder right now due to unprecedented demand. That is a classic problem if I ever heard one.

The Hanes Beefy T is such a classic. There are other 6.1 ounce shirts out there, but not in ring spun cotton like the Beefy T. A thin shirt that is tapered is not for everyone. I think this shirt is due for a renaissance. It’s the shirt that doesn’t wear out. It’s the shirt that starts comfortable and stays comfortable. As a printer or distributor you can make more money on a good shirt. Also in what other area of your life can you get the best in the business for less than a $1 and then it lasts you 20 years? Try that with buying the best car…

The Beefy T, born 40 years ago in 1975.

The Beefy T, born 40 years ago in 1975.

The other classic I love at their booth is the Champion reverse weave hoodie. They won’t just last you your whole lifetime, your kids will steal yours and wear it for their whole life as well. They need to figure out the price per wear and that would have to be the best bargain in the garment industry. Everybody always thinks they know the familiar products, but I would suggest that the Champion hoody is one worth revisiting. I’ve seen everybody wearing one from Grandpa to some dudes and dudettes in Supreme.


The oh so soft oh so warm oh so classic Champion Reverse-Weave Hoodie

The oh so soft oh so warm oh so classic Champion Reverse-Weave Hoodie

Lest you think Hanes/Champion is all old stuff, it isn’t. The Champion Performance pieces are awesome. They actually have performance characteristics unlike some of the crap out there which is “performance” in name only.  The Nano line I think is under appreciated. I call it “trendy shirts for real people.” Many folks cannot wear shirts that are too thin or too fitted, they just look bad. The Nano line has great t’s and a fantastic lightweight hoodie line. They are thin ringspun cotton and fitted, but nothing crazy. Their vintage colors are also a great addition. They have filled out this line and all the pieces will be at the show to check out.


Hanes Nano Fleece, staged photo, but you get the idea. Nice stuff.

Hanes Nano Fleece, staged photo, but you get the idea. Nice stuff.

To change direction here, let’s talk about Rutland, an ink company who will be at booth #1647 in Long Beach. They are a great company, understated, great customer service, good distributors, and and great products. No BS and very customer oriented.

Again, you can see their new stuff, some of which is exciting actually, but for me it is still the people that work there and the performance of their ink. They have always had good inventory and the new CEO Jeff Leone is a great guy and a smart guy and I love that he has them stocking even more inventory than ever. Even the best ink in the world is no good if you can’t get it when you need it. If for no other two reasons I would buy Rutland because 1.) They stand behind their products and 2. )They build up the least on the back of screens, which is essential for printing wet-on-wet without a million flashes.

Besides just talking to the Rutland/Union/QCM folks (which I strongly recommend) I would also say you should check out a few awesome new products they are showing off. They have their new Endurance Plus line of inks. We tried them and immediately started using them all the time. Endurance Plus has great dye blocking properties but is easier to print, is softer, and stretches better than previous products in the marketplace. You can check out our test run that I documented in the Ink Kitchen.

Endurance ink from Rutland - not just a good bright cured ink, but it also will stretch.

Endurance ink from Rutland – not just a good bright cured ink, but it also will stretch.

Rutland also will have three other products on display that you should definitely check out:

– Eko line of non-PVC ink that so many retail and fashion lines are now asking for. It is the closest thing to printing like plastisol that you will see out there, but with the environmental qualities your customers are demanding

–  Silky Cotton and  Silky Low Bleed, which is Rutland making what their printers have requested, white ink with a softer touch and better drape.

– Silextreme Silicone Inks, which will be made available in the U.S. in 2015. Silicone offers the ultimate protection against dye migration when printing on polyester and the stretch is unmatched by any other textile printing ink. No fun to print, but when you might ruin 100 polyester jackets that cost $150 each, you might want to use this ink…

More coming soon. Opinions? We have plenty. See you next post.

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