Varsity Jackets are making a come back

Varsity Jackets are making a comeback
Varsity Jackets

We are hearing on the ‘grape vine’ that the varsity jacket is making a come back. Our jackets have always been popular and are the perfect garment for embroidering. They come in a range of colours and sizes and are particularly good for sport, school and dance groups.

We can thank the Americans for introducing us to the varsity jacket. This casual wear staple was born in the glittering sports halls of Harvard University. In the 1950’s the newly invented TV beamed the ideal of the American Dream, the varsity jacket came to symbolise the uniform of the sporty teenager. Now its having a resurgence.

American High School sports team

The style is neat, simple and with the distinctive contrast ribbing. It combines the structure of a jacket with the ease of a cardigan, making it ideal for leisure wear. Girls love the look too and from an early stage the jacket became a unisex look. The effect is upbeat with a 50’s retro feel and perfect for team branding!

Milton Keynes Dance Centre
Milton Keynes Dance Centre

Our Aprons are made in Britain

About our Aprons

We have been so busy producing our ‘Made in Britain’ Aprons! They are fast becoming one of our most popular products.

'Made in Britain' Apron
‘Made in Britain’ Apron

Made in Britain Aprons are the perfect accompaniment to any product that is produced or grown in the U.K. What better way to promote your product than wearing an apron made in a british factory.

 

Our 'Made in Britain' labels
Our ‘Made in Britain’ labels

We have supplied a wide range of bespoke aprons in all kinds of colours and styles. The great thing about bespoke is you can create a unique look. There all kinds of ways you can add a unique touch, whether it be the fabric, the branding or the straps.

 Why make aprons in Britain?

A key advantage for producing in Britain is a quick turn-around time. We are able to action changes and develop samples more quickly. The design process is easier, we can develop  ideas and see the results within a few weeks.

We are very keen to support British businesses and the growing trend for British based manufacturing.

Horatio's Garden apron
Horatio’s Garden apron

 

The Horatio’s Garden apron was particularly nice to work on. It is such a great charity and one we are proud to have been involved with.

 

 

 

Amy's Kitchen
Amy’s Kitchen

The aprons we produced for Amy’s Kitchen were also made using fabric produced in Britain.

Amy's Kitchen
Amy’s Kitchen
Applying the embroidery
Applying the embroidery

Our in-house embroidery machines allow us to produce embroideries quickly and efficiently. We can tweak and perfect the colours and positioning as we go along. Our production team have a great eye for detail.

There are all kinds of ways to make our aprons unique. Our customers want something different that will set them apart from the rest. We are always on the look out for new ideas. For Balans restaurants eyelets were used, to great effect!

Balans apron
Balans apron

What are the options for Polo shirt collars?

Polo shirt collars are key to the overall look. It is the one feature that sets it apart from a regular t-shirt and is what gives it that all important smartness and structure.

There are three main Polo shirt collar choices;
Knitted polo shirt collar
Knitted

knitted collars are the most popular choice. They are woven in the same yarns as the main body and are dyed to match. The great advantage of knitted collars is the ability to knit patterns and contrast colours into the collar. This can add interesting details that can enhance and help project your brand image.

 

Self Fabric polo shirt collar
Self Fabric

Self fabric collars are made from the fabric that is used in the main body and sleeves. It gives a more tailored appearance and is a good way of keeping the colour consistent.

 

 

 

Contrast polo shirt collar
Contrast

Contrast collars have a more tradition feel. They reflect the style of the original polo shirts that were used by the british military to play Polo. Cotton is used in different colours to create a classic ‘sports club’ feel. A simpler denim contrast can create a more contemporary feel.

Plastic tipping – A great new invention for keeping knitted Polo shirt collars neat by preventing curling.

We think this is a great idea! Especially when you consider that office wear is becoming increasingly more relaxed. This is a great way of ensuring that a polo shirt collar sits neatly under a jacket.

Plastic tipping inserts
Plastic tipping insert.

The Plastic tip is inserted into a channel down the front of the collar, to keep it straight. It can easily be removed when washing the garment.

 

 

 

Ottoman detail on knitted collars – what are the benefits?

On heavier weight styles, particularly our work wear polo shirts, the collars have an Ottoman detail knitted along the outer edge of the collars. This gives an attractive edge to the collar and more importantly adds rigidity to prevent rolling.

Narrower collars for a more fashionable look

We have recently introduced a more fashionable range of polo shirts where a slimmer fit and a narrower collar are key features. They are an ideal choice for retail and hospitality, particularly for a younger and more modern environment.

Lets talk about fabric weight for Polo Shirts

How do you measure the weight of a fabric?

Fabric weight is determined by how a fabric has been woven, its fibre type and how it has been finished. Looking at weight can help you decide if it will be the most suitable fabric for its end use.

GSM and OZ’s

GSM is the metric measurement meaning grams per square metre – it is how much one square metre of fabric weighs. The higher the GSM, the denser the fabric.

OZ is ounce per square yard (oz/sq2), it is the imperial measurement and is also commonly used.

 Fabric usually falls into three weight categories;
  • Lightweight – 30 – 150 gsm
  • Medium weight – 150 – 350 gsm
  • Heavy weight – 350+ gsm

Most polo shirts fall within the medium fabric weight catagory – usually between 150 gsm – 250 gsm

Fabric Thickness

Generally the heavier the fabric weight, the thicker it is, however this is not always the case. Fabrics of the same weight but with different fibres and weaves may have different thicknesses.

Heavy weight = Quality? Not always

The weight of a fabric does not always determine its quality. Some fabrics will have been woven using finer fibres and yarns that will give them a superior and more lightweight feel, but they will have high quality characteristics. For example cottons woven with longer staple fibres.

Weights of Polo Shirts

As with the weight categories, there are three main polo weights;

Lightweight – 130 – 170 gsm

The  polyester performance polos usually fall into this category. The lightness of the fabric is an integral part of their moisture wicking and quick dry properties. This makes the polos ideal for wearing in the gym and warm climates.

Lightweight
Medium weight – 170-200 gsm

This is our most popular category and covers the majority of the styles we offer. Our Polyester/cotton polos are a good all-rounder. They can be relied upon for both comfort and durability.  All fabric types can be found in this category.

Medium weight
Heavyweight – 200+ gsm
Heavyweight

Our heavyweight range of polos are a good choice for workwear. They offer hard wearing fabric that will cope with harsher conditions. The extra weight will also provide warmth. This makes them ideal for working long hours on the factory floor or outside in the elements.

 

 

Polo Shirts that have moisture wicking qualities

So, how does Moisture Wicking work and what are the benefits?

Candle Wick
Candle Wick

Moisture Wicking works in much the same way as a candle wick absorbs wax and draws it up towards the flame.

Wicking is able to occur by a process called capillary action. Polyester fibres are hollow, like tiny little tubes and the moisture is able move along them. The high humidity or wet air next to the skin will try and move up towards the low humidity or dry air on the outside.

In addition to all of this the fabrics can be chemically treated so that moisture does not stay in the fibres.

So clever!

In what environments will moisture wicking Polo Shirts be most effective?

Moisture wicking will be of great benefit if your team are working in warm environments such as gyms and swimming pools. Travel companies should consider these Polo shirts for their staff working in hot climates and of course sports teams would much prefer to be wearing a garment that is going to take moisture away from the body. It goes without saying that any moisture wicking fabric is going to dry very quickly when laundered and this just adds to the appeal.

Do Polo Shirts have to be 100% Polyester to have moisture wicking properties?

Blended Polos  can still offer moisture wicking. If you still want the natural feel of cotton but the added moisture control of polyester,  there are blends that will do this for you. This is a good choice for someone working in warmer climates, where the cotton will feel cooler against the skin. The polyester will then do its job and wick any moisture away from the body. A great combination!

Choosing fabrics for your Polo Shirts – What is going to work best for you and your team.

A good place to start is to look at what your Polo shirts need to cope with.

Think carefully about where the Polo shirts will be worn, the environment is key. You want a happy team and wearing a garment that they feel comfortable in and is easy to care for will make a big difference! Think carefully about the roles your team will be performing, what does the fabric need to cope with? If you can answer these questions, you have a head start.

So what are the main fabric options?

Pure Cotton
A Cotton Plant

Cotton is a good choice and will perform well in most conditions. It has good moisture wicking abilities, breathability and decent durability. Being natural, it is also an important product for the growing organic industry. Supporting Fair trade and Organic products is a core part of our business and something that we feel very strongly about.

100% Cotton Pique Polo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

T

There are different qualities of cotton. A shorter stable (fibre) cotton may tend to pill and fade after a few washes whereas a longer staple cotton will last longer and feel better on your skin.

Our Fair trade and Organic t-shirts and Polo’s are made from longer staple cotton fibres, giving them that softer, more luxurious feel.

 

Blended
Slim Fit Polo – Washable at 60 %

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you know that your team will be exposed to substances that might stain, then a blended fabric is a good choice. A common combination is 65% Polyester 35% Cotton. This will give the natrual feel and benefit of cotton but have the added durability of a man-made fibre. The Polyester will allow the Polo shirt to be washed at much higher temperatures, with little need for ironing. Long periods of exposure to sun light will cause cotton to fade and the polyester will combat this. Blended Polos are a good choice for people working outside for long periods of time.

Polyester

In the past we haven’t always considered Polyester the most comfortable fabric to wear but fabric technology has made a huge difference. The texture and performance of polyester has changed considerably. Polyester is so strong and durable, it doesn’t wrinkle or shrink. When you combine this with the advances in fibre technology, you have a very useful product.

Fact – Polyester does not retain moisture like natural fabrics and will only absorb 0.4% of moisture. Which is why it is such a good choice for Performance wear.

Performance Polyester

100% Polyester Performance Polo

100% Polyester Performance Polo

Engineered manmade fabrics are making a huge impact and are being used not only for Sportswear but for a whole range of garments where the wearer can benefit from their properties. Our Performance Polos have a  range of properties, including moisture wicking, UV protection, odour reduction, soft finishes plus all the durability that manmade fibres can offer.

Polo Shirts with UV Protection – Protect your Team from Exposure to Harmful, Invisible Ultra Violet Rays

Polo Shirts with UV Protection help reduce risk of over exposure to harmful, invisible ultra violet rays.

Do your team members spend a lot of time outdoors?

If so we have written this information, which we hope, you will find useful. If you are browsing, to select team wear or uniform then you might decide to consider polo shirts which have been designed and manufactured to give protection from the harmful rays of the sun.

The amount of time a person spends unprotected from the sun and its UV Radiation has a proven correlation to risk of skin cancer.

I enjoy this video which shows the hidden effect of ultra violet rays with the use of a special camera.

Cancerresearchuk.org gives the figures that 8 in 10 cases of melanoma “………could be prevented through enjoying the sun safely and avoiding sunburn”. There has been much publicity during the last decade which has highlighted the dangers.   Certainly since I spent hours unprotected in the sun as child knowledge of how to reduce skin cancers and the risk of melanoma has become well known and written about widely.

Polo shirts and T Shirts are often chosen by customers as part of their company uniform or team wear. They have a smart, but relaxed look. This is appealing as they help to portray a professional image as part of a company corporate clothing range – but are comfortable and practical.

As polo shirts are undoubtedly the most popular of all our garments, we wanted to include those with excellent UV protection ratings.

UPF Protection Rating Explained – Polo Shirts
  • UPF stands for the “Ultra Violet Protection Factor” that the fabric offers.
  • The “Rating” indicates on a scale how good the protection is.
  • UPF rating is similar to SPF (Sun protection factor) rating using in sun screens.

Fabric

The more densely woven the fabric the better the protection the polo shirt will offer from the UV radiation. In densely woven fabrics there are less spaces between the fibres and far fewer of the harmful radiation rays can get through.

However if you stretch the fabric the weave will open up a little and reduce the UV protection. Similarly if the polo shirt is well worn and a little threadbare then protection is reduced.

The recent development in 100% polyester fabrics, with wicking qualities are particularly effective as they have a very tight weave.

Credit – image from Arpansa – Australian Government

Colour

The darker the fabric the better the protection. Because the dye is more concentrated this results in the absorption of many more of the ultra violet rays rather than the lighter coloured polo shirts.

A good simple test to try – hold the polo shirt to the sun and the more you can see through it, the less good the protection.

If your team work outdoors a good starting point is to choose darker colours for their workwear, in a tightly woven fabric.

Fabrics Treated to Increase Sun Protection

Some of our polo shirts have a high technical specification and have been coated with Ultra Violet absorbers or reflectors. This increases the protection that the polo shirts offers. The fabric is usually densely woven and darker colour, and due to this combination there is a three pronged attack on those harmful rays.

Look for Polo Shirts with a UV Protection Rating

Look for polo shirts with UV Protection by using the filter  under “features” on the left hand side of our website.  You will see the rating of all products with UV protection in the description of the polo shirts.  You may also see a logo similar to the one below on the garment label which confirms the rating.

Logo UPF Rating Polo Shirts

 

Polo Shirts with UV Protection

Here is a list with links to our range:-

Just for Interest

If you are interested in invisible ultra violet rays look at this interesting NASA video.

Types of Polo Shirt Fibres

Polo Shirt Fabric – Lets start with the fibres

All Fabrics are made up of fibres and it is these fibres that give the fabric its characteristics.

There are two types of fibre; Filament and Staple.
polo shirt fabric fibres
Examples of filament fibres & staple fibres.

Most natural fibres, such as cotton and wool, are staple fibres and this is what gives polo shirt fabric its texture. Synthetic fibres, such as nylon and polyester are filament fibres, which is why these fabrics tend to be smoother.

Filament fibres refer to fibres of long continuous lengths, while Staples refer to those of shorter length, about a few inches long.

What do Cotton and polyester fibres look like?

 

 

 

 

Cotton                                                                  Polyester

That’s all for today, watch this space for the next instalment!

Liz

Polo Shirt Fabric – Explained

Polo shirts are by far our most popular product and we are always looking out for new ideas and innovations. They have come a long way from their origins in the 19th century, when they were developed by British army soldiers to play Polo.

Choosing the right fabric is important when deciding on what Polo Shirt to buy and we are always being asked to recommend fabrics. So I thought it might be quite useful to do a little fact file.

Most of us have busy lives, we’re time-poor and usually need to turn-around clothes pretty quickly. I have three rugby playing boys at home and I know how important it is the get their clothes cleaned and dried quickly!

So, where do you start? Sometimes you can be overwhelmed with choice, especially today when there seems to be so much out there.

One rule to remember is that a man-made fibre (Polyester) will always be more durable and resilient than a natural fibre but of course natural fibres (cotton) have the added appeal of their natural properties.

Knitted or Woven?

A knitted fabric is made by looping together long lengths of yarn. Its properties are distinct from woven fabric in that it is more flexible. Most Polo Shirts are knitted and there are two main types: Pique and Jersey

Pique

Pique (pronounced “Pee-Kay”) is characterized by its visible waffle-like texture. It generally has a looser weave and is the more traditional choice for Polos. The looser weave allows the air to circulate giving the fabric that important breathability which is why it was first used for Tennis and Sports Wear in the 1920’s. This textured weave helps to create heavier weights and increased durability. Pique is a popular choice as it is associated with both quality and durability.

Jersey

Jersey is  smoother and flatter and is also used for t-shirts. It tends to have more elasticity than pique and a lighter feel and so is a popular choice for sport and active wear. Slim fitting and stretch Polos are more likely to be made of Jersey for the same reason.

See you soon for the next instalment!  Liz

BUBBACUE – Champion Ethical Customer

Made in Britain Impact Trading

John from Bubbacue contacted us a couple of months ago.

John was specific.  Bubbacue was about to be reborn. Starting out as a “pop up”  three years ago in Callender Street Belfast Bubbacue had evolved into a fully fledged restaurant. An adventure in food with total commitment to quality produce coupled with great ethics.

Bubbacue made in Britain Organic T Shirts
Aprons and T Shirts “Made in Britain” especially for Bubbacue.

Now a relaunch was imminent along with a rebrand of the restaurant, menu and uniform.
John is American, the restaurant is in Belfast.  In keeping with his ethos John ordered our organic “Made in Britain” T Shirts which were manufactured for him in organic cotton,and Pantone dyed to his exact specification. We now call it Bubbacue red.

imagesJohn ordered Fairtrade and organic black t shirts.  Cotton grown by Pratima Growing Group in Odisha India.
 

John wanted aprons for his team to match the t shirts, so contrast thread was used to bring the style together.

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Staff having a break before the grand opening.                                                                           

 

Every t shirt has a message on the back which highlights an Ethos of Bubbacue.  The restaurant opened again on the 27th of November.  Our very best wishes from Impact Trading to John and Karen and all at Bubbacue.

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Ethos #3