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In the print world, screen printing is one of the most common methods used in personalised merchandise production, and with good reason. At ICON, it’s often our main method of printing for time sensitive, high-quality and long-lasting personalised t-shirts, whilst allowing for expert levels of detail and a wide variety of customisation. However, this holy grail method of printing has been labelled unsustainable in the past and is largely a result of the dyes involved in the process. Let’s break it down.

The concept:

Screen printing comprises of using the technique of creating a picture or pattern by forcing ink or metal on to a surface through a screen of fine material. The cost of using this printing technique is based off the artwork involved; the level of details, the range of colour, as each colour requires a separate screen, adding to the additional cost, and the volume of the order. Each of these factors combined then impacts the type of ink and dyeing process that can be used.

Want to dive deeper? Read our expert’s ultimate guide to screen printing here.

Inks:

What inks are used to fulfil an order is ultimately based on the suitability of the dye for the merchandise order requested. Screen printing works ideally for larger orders that encompass artwork with spot colours, as opposed to photographs or full colour prints with gradients, and are most commonly made using plastisol ink. Although widely applied when screen printing and renown for it’s durability and cost-effective nature, the main component in plastisol ink is made with PVC and is essentially liquid plastic, making it difficult to recycle, break-down after the product lifecycle, and overall is harmful to the environment.

The more sustainable solution? Water-based inks.

Water-based inks use water as the main solvent in carrying pigment, which allows for the inks to be sharp and vibrant, making it much easier to extract, produce and better for the environment. With water-based screen printing, the inks used are thinner and more transparent than other types of printing dyes and, in comparison to plastisol ink, water-based dyes penetrate deeper into fabric, resulting a softer and more breathable print, not crumbling when the t-shirts are scrunched up. According to Bristow (2021) making use of water-based inks and organic cotton for your apparel allow for deeper absorption into the fabric, increasing wearability and product longevity, driving further within the eco-friendly nature of the dye.

While water-based inks are the more sustainable screen-printing option, it has its limitations.

Cottons only: The problem with water-based screen printing is that you cannot print on 100% polyester.  This is because when water hits polyester, it creates a film on top of the fabric that keeps the ink from seeping in. Instead, here at ICON, we use 100% organically sourced cotton for your garments. For more options, check out our catalogue of apparel here.

Know your dyes: There are all sorts of water-based inks, from high solids water-based inks, which are excellent for stretchy fabrics, to discharge inks, which works through a bleaching process where the colour of the ink replaces the shirt’s colour. Look for dyes that are made from natural, sustainable materials and these dyes work just as effectively as synthetic dyes, but are much better for our planet.

At ICON, we pride ourselves as pioneers in sustainable screen-printing industry. Want to find out more? Click here to get an instant quote or email us at sales@iconprinting.com and someone from our team will get in touch.

If you’re an influencer in the Gaming space struggling to widen your reach and strengthen your fan base, this one’s for you. 

Today, 2.8 Billion people make up one of the largest communities in the world — Gamers. With one in three people worldwide engaging in playing video games on a weekly basis; a number continuously growing as you’re reading this, the gaming industry has experienced a boom like no other, with a projected market value of $300 Billion by 2025. This surge of players online has created a new opportunity for gaming enthusiasts; to quit their day jobs and generate full-time incomes as Gaming Influencers; Streamers, Pro-level gamers, E-sport players and more. 

With a cult following built on platforms like Twitch, Discord and Youtube Gaming, Influencers in the industry have marked their territories online by accumulating an impressive fanbase. Gamer turned Youtuber PewDiePie is the most subscribed to person on Youtube till date, with a monumental 111 million watchers. What keeps the gamer audience growing? According to a study published in the International Journal of Interdisciplinary Research: fan-themed custom apparel. 

Personalised merchandise has been named the holy grail community engagement tool across the entertainment industry. In a growing yet saturated space for upcoming Gaming Talent, the ultimate method to differentiate a brand and nourish an online audience is through the launch of high quality, limited quantity individualised gear.

Ex-pro-level player now Twitch sensation; Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, was amongst the first gamers to launch a collaborative collection for his impressive 13 million Twitch streamers with Adidas, selling out within minutes. Back by popular demand, Ninja’s second personalised merchandise collection with Adidas Originals launching in October of this year: Chase the Spark, has already gained significant popularity amongst his fans and is projected to sell out even faster. Similarly, E-sports expert Juggernaut, whose team worked with Gucci on the release of a limited edition watch; priced at $1,620, sold out entirely and is amongst one of the most sought after pieces for E-sport aficionados. 

Image Credit: Adidas. In Image, The infamous Adidas Donovan Mitchell x Ninja Hoodie

The performance of these collections is nothing short of magic, and is reinforced by the fascinating concept of simplified consumer psychology. With it’s foundations in signalling theory, a notion developed by Economist Micheal Spence, members of an audience are likely to feel “more connected to a product, an organisation and one another through explicit association or signals” such as wearing merchandise belonging to a certain game, gaming community and influencer fan base. 

This enclothed cognition; a term used to describe “the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes” studied by Hajo Adam and Adam D.Galinsky in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, found similar findings. Those who wore attire which is closely associated within the nature of a particular activity, such as wearing lab coats to perform tasks commonly associated with attentiveness and carefulness, found an increase in selective and sustained attention spans in their trial subjects. With gamers evolving to now break stereotypes of gamer attire and “what a gamer should look like,” fan-themed customised apparel bridges the gap between the creator and their online community like never before. 

At ICON, we’ve worked with forward-thinking brands and creators alike, to create bespoke, sustainability driven, custom made apparel that lasts for the people we value the most: our community. 

Keen to get your first collection of personalised merchandise underway?  Click here for an instant quote or contact our team for a more in-depth review into how we can take you from design to delivery in less than 14 days!

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