Polo Shirts embroidered with your company logo are a great way to help promote your business, unify your staff and present a professional image to your clients but how do you ensure you get it right? Embroidered Polo Shirts are available in different fabrics, styles and colours.
First of all, you need to choose the right fabric for your Polo Shirts, one that suits the working environment.
All in the Fibre Traditionally, Polo Shirts have been manufactured from 100% Cotton, a natural fibre that has been used by mankind for thousands of years.
Cotton is kind to the skin and absorbs moisture, so it can help keep the wearer cool in hot climates.
Unfortunately, whilst Cotton has its advantages, it also has certain drawbacks regarding its use in staff uniform - it doesn't wear well, wrinkles easily and requires more care than synthetic fibres.
Polyester, a synthetic fibre, developed in the early 1940's, has a number of attributes that make it ideal for staff uniform: It's strong, durable, dries quickly and is wrinkle resistant but in its standard form is not as comfortable on the skin as Cotton.
Consequently, Polyester is often blended with Cotton, to create a fabric that combines the best of both fibres: Cotton for wearer comfort and breathability and Polyester for strength, durability and ease of care.
As a result, Polyester/Cotton is currently the most commonly used fabric for staff uniform Polos however in recent years technical Polyester fibres (such as Coolmax), that were first developed for use in high-end sportswear, have begun to be used for staff uniform Polos.
Technical Polyester fibres were specifically engineered to wick moisture from the skin in order to keep athletes cool and performing at their peak: Strong, yet soft to the touch, quick to dry and easy to care for, they represent the current state of the art in fibre design.
Fabrics made from these fibres are already being used in areas as diverse as the military and Formula 1 racing and in the next ten years it's likely we will see them being put to even wider use, in fact there are already Polo Shirts available for staff uniform and sales are beginning to increase.
For general use, Polyester/Cotton remains the right fabric for most staff uniform Polos and a 50/50 mixture of fibres provides the best balance between comfort and wear.
A Weighty Issue The weight of the fabric is also an important consideration and the right choice will result in an embroidered Polo Shirt that is suitable for the working environment, comfortable for the wearer and durable enough to offer real value for money for the company.
Leaving aside the technical Polyester Polos, which are inherently lightweight, Polyester/Cotton Polo Shirts tend to start from around 160 to 170gsm (GSM stands for grams per square metre, a unit of measurement now commonly used in the textile industry).
Whilst these lightweight Poly/Cotton Polos are cheap to buy, they tend to feel flimsy and with regard to an embroidered Polo Shirt, they do not provide a stable enough fabric on which to embroider.
Lightweight Polo shirts can be used for budget promotional give-aways but rarely do they offer real value for money as an item of staff uniform.
The middle ground for Poly/Cotton Polo shirts, in terms of weight and performance, is usually for fabrics somewhere in the region of 180 to 210gsm.
At this weight the fabric provides a reasonable balance between comfort, durability and price.
As a result, Polo shirts in this weight range are regularly used for workwear in the manufacturing & industrial sectors.
Heavyweight Polo shirts typically use fabric weighing from 220 up to 280gsm.
Embroidered Polo shirts which use fabric of this weight are not only stronger and more durable than their lightweight counterparts but also provide further improvements in wearer comfort, quality and image as well.
Consequently, heavyweight Polo Shirts are often used for customer facing staff or in more prestigious or quality oriented working environments.
Bearing in mind the temperature of the workplace, type of work and expected wear, an embroidered Polo Shirt which uses fabric in the 200 to 250gsm weight range, will suffice in most instances.
A Matter of Style Most Polo Shirts utilise a Pique knit fabric and feature a two or three button opening (placket) at the neck, a rib knit collar and short sleeves but there are additional choices such as Jersey or Interlock knit, rib knit or jacquard knit collars or cuffs, an extended back panel (to keep the lower back warm) and side vents (for ease of movement).
Whilst this list is not exhaustive, the final choice will depend on working considerations, the look required and of course, the budget available.
Colours from A to Z In order to promote your company or brand it makes sense to choose a fabric colour that 'tones in' with your corporate logo and thankfully these days, Polo Shirts are available off-the-shelf in a wide range of colours from Apple Green to Zinc Grey.
If your logo colours are particularly unusual and there isn't a matching (or complimentary) colour of Polo Shirt available off-the-shelf then there are still a couple of options to consider: One is to choose a plain colour of Polo, such as Black, Navy or White - selecting a colour of garment on which your corporate logo colours will look good when embroidered.
This can sometimes be preferable to buying an off-the-shelf garment in an unusual shade because fashions change and just because your company's shade of lime green is in vogue today this may not be the case in two years time.
Manufacturers of off-the-shelf 'stock' garments tend to change their ranges from time to time and may choose to drop a colour if it is no longer considered popular.
Ask your supplier and they should be able to tell you which colours are likely to remain available or which are in doubt.
The second option, if you have a sufficiently large requirement, is to have a Polo Shirt manufactured for your staff uniform in a bespoke colour.
Manufacturing a bespoke embroidered Polo Shirt, opens up a wealth of possibilities regarding colour matching to your main corporate colour, embroidery branding, trims & detailing but this option is usually only viable from 300 to 500 pieces for a single colour garment or 1,000 pieces upwards for more complex designs.
Nevertheless, if you have the quantity, the lead time and are not on too tight a budget then this is definitely the way to create a unique look for your embroidered Polo Shirts.
Smart Threads We've spoken about the basis for your embroidered Polo Shirt and how to choose the right garment but what of the embroidery itself and why should we use embroidery instead of print? Although embroidery began as a handicraft, commercial embroidery now utilises complex machines to stitch the design directly onto the garment or garment panel.
An embroidered logo may contain thousands (sometimes even tens of thousands) of stitches of coloured thread to replicate your company logo.
Nowadays, embroidery is achieved by digitising the design - the process of digitising converts your logo from a.
JPG or Bitmap image into a set of computer instructions that tell the embroidery machine where to stitch, how much to stitch and what thread colours to use.
Due to its unique appearance and method of manufacture, embroidery conveys a sense of quality and unlike screen or transfer printing, the individual threads of embroidery provide an almost 3D effect that reacts to every change in light.
Embroidering a Polo Shirt does however require some extra consideration.
Pique knit fabric (the most common knit for Polo Shirts) can be difficult to embroider with fine designs, as the open 'holes' in the fabric cause the design to pull out of shape.
Therefore it's important that your supplier digitises the embroidery design specifically for the fabric being embroidered - a good supplier will do this as a matter of course.
So there you have it: A good quality Embroidered Polo Shirt need not be vastly expensive and with the right choices and the right supplier you should be assured of a good result for your company, your staff and your budget.
Copyright Mark J Davis - First Impressions (Europe) Ltd 2009