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When Brands Go Bad

There's no denying the simple fact that well-known brand name uniforms and apparel have some distinct advantages over second tier, "non-brand" name goods. For one, the brands have a brand name to protect in the RETAIL channel (vs. Team) and they do so through quality. Ergo, your average Under Armour uniform, irrespective of the sport, is going to be of a better quality than a 2nd tier brand's. Duh.

Let's take price off the table and say --not matter what the price-- which is the better uniform for my team or school? Well, that's where it starts to get a little tricky...

If you're buying "Blanks" (un-decorated --i.e., no team name, numbers, etc.) then yeah, the brand name goods are gonna be --on average better. And, again on average, be a little pricier. After all, you are paying for the brand. Again, Duh.

If you want to get the best quality and the selection and convenience of buying via the Net, blank brand name purchases are a very comforting way to go. You'll lose no sleep, because a web merchant's UA, Russell, Reebok, etc. is gonna be the exact same as the local dealer or retailer. Even if you buy direct from the manufacturer (evil!) A brand is a brand is a brand.

But most folks prefer a turnkey solution. They want decorated unis. And, that said, the value of brands becomes a little more nebulous.

Suppose your brother in law has a t-shirt shop and you're upgrading your unis from tees to --well, almost anything is an upgrade-- but let's say your new travel squad wants a well-known brand name. (And bro-in-law still wants his piece of the business too!)


Today's performance fabrics are very different than t-shirts. Know how to precisely deal with them is a scientific skill and knowledge set. Nothing againist your in-law, but he is officially "out of his league" at this point. (Those really cool tees he did for the Big Jamboree last month notwithstanding)

So, in this example, the benefit of the brand becomes non-existent. Let me explain.
Most errors in the team uniform biz are a by-product of the decoration (screening, embroidery, sublimation, etc.) The core product --the blank jersey-- can be fantastic. And yet, it can be likely rendered virtually unusable through shoddy decoration (numbers that fall off, team names that "melt" and so forth.)

A brand name uni in this case is just penny wise and pound foolish. Or the opposite, I've confused myself. But I think you get the point.

If you have a "local guy" who knows how to work with sports team uniforms and new-ish performance fabrics (ASK to see samples of his/her work!), then sure, go with the brand name blanks. But when in doubt, go turnkey.

Sports Uniform Guy

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