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Sublimated Uniforms...The New HDTV?

Consumer Electronics Show, Jan. 9 2008

I remember going the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas in the early '90's. Every other booth seemed to have a high definition television displayed. Serious, sweaty & emphatic sales people gushed effusively that HDTV was going to be all the rage. Was going to change the world. Blah, blah, blah.

They went on & on about how unbelievably clear the picture quality was. When I mentioned that, if you changed the channel, the picture looked like crap, I was informed that that was because no one was yet producing televison in HD. Oh.

In short, the "awesome" technology of high definition television (read: the Hardware) was only as good as the content it displayed (the Software). The technology was so good, it made "inferior" low def. content look WORSE. "But you wait....", they told me.

I did. For over a decade.

Now, I love watching sports on my 52" HDTV. Incredible. (Sure, the non-HD stuff is almost unwatchable) but in sum, good things did come to those that waited.

We're about 5 years into the "Decade of Sublimated Uniforms" and I guess I can't help but feel kind of the same way I did at the mid-point of the HDTV revolution.

Sublimated uniforms, without question, have some really, really excellent qualities. The decorative elements (names, numbers, etc.) will never peel, crack and so forth. You can make the case that sublimated uniforms a are inherently lighter in weight as no "third party" elements are screened, sealed or sewn to the garment itself, sparing the athlete the ignominy of the classic "puddle of sweat" around these decorative elements.

But there's likewise little question that we are still in the early stages of this technology's developmental curve. It's still a little pricey, for one thing. The fabric restriction (read: polyester) is another.

Don't get me wrong, the splashy colors & design freedom that sublimation empowers is a welcome trend. But, IMHO, style needed not supercede substance. And a lot of what I see in sublimated uniforms today, skews toward the stylish and even if ever so slightly, away from the substantive. I honestly don't know if this aspect is simple market positioning by the manufacturers or is somehow a byproduct of the existing technology. But I know what I see and feel in my hand.

I remember the 1st time I did a presentation for the head of a large city's school board. The 1st thing the decision maker did when I handed her a uniform was turn it inside out. She didn't care what it looked like. She wanted to see the quality of how it was made.

Kind of like HDTV in the '90's!

Sports Uniform Guy

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