Andy Timmins

A Commitment to The Living Wage

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Generating Awareness About Fairer Wages

As part of our commitment to an ethical supply chain, Shirtworks have become the first printer & embroiderer in the UK to instigate the Living Wage program company-wide. From 1 December 2013, Shirtworks will be making the permanent commitment to fairer wages, and will be working to spread awareness of this important issue.

Living Wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK, and employers are not legally bound to oblige. It is a voluntary program that has a number of benefits to all parties involved. According to the Living Wage Foundation website, from a study made in London, 80% of employers believe that it enhanced the quality of their staff’s work, and reduced absenteeism by about 25%. From the employee perspective, 75% reported an increase in the quality of their own work.

Managing Director Arron Harnden says, “Every business is trying to find cheaper ways of supplying a product or service in order to be competitive. The ‘race to the bottom’ on price always creates a negative effect for the customer through poor quality work or poor customer service. Some of the cheaper companies attempt to reduce their costs through their payroll by paying minimum wage but we believe that paying a decent salary is the cornerstone of a great business able to deliver the type of customer service experience we are renowned for. We don’t want to run a ‘sweat shop’, there are already plenty of those print and embroidery companies out there.

Together with an increasing amount of companies across Britain, we recognise that there is no place for an unfair wage structure, and that we need to do our bit to combat the issues affecting workforces locally and globally. Working in an industry where unfair wages are all too common, Shirtworks strives wherever possible to do the right thing throughout our supply chain.

Considering social responsibility is essential, and many of our larger corporate customers are delighted to align themselves with this philosophy. As we emerge from a tough global recession, we hope that more consumers are prepared to do more business with socially responsible companies, and we hope that more print companies, clothing manufacturers, and embroiderers will follow suit and improve their commitment to ethical processes.

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Andy Timmins

Augmented Reality and Clothing: The Future?

Augmented Reality and Clothing: The Future?

What is Augmented Reality?

augmented-reality-effect-on-t-shirt-

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that is set to change the way we see the world forever. The definition of augmented reality in the Oxford Dictionary is “a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.” It is a blur between reality and virtual reality, and creates a whole host of opportunities for entertainment and for business. Essentially, augmented reality adds images, graphics, and sounds to the real world by displaying them on a digital device.

More smartphones are being built with augmented reality displays inbuilt, and there are a number of apps on the market that feed data in through your smartphone or your tablet’s camera. These apps can be used to map the stars in the sky (Star Chart), check local crime rates and crime locations (SpotCrime) or just to acquire useful information about your surroundings, including restaurants, bars, cinemas, and much more (Acrossair).

Displays are becoming more subtle and usable, with the much-discussed Google Glass spearheading the evolution of wearable augmented reality displays. Currently, these glasses are fairly chunky and obvious, but as we have seen with the fine-tuning of phones and music devices, it won’t be long before outward appearance of augmented reality glasses is no different to a pair of reading glasses.

Whilst this is exciting prospect, a number of issues have surfaced regarding safety and privacy, and there have been calls to ban augmented reality glasses for drivers, as well as for visitors to cinemas, casinos, and strip clubs. This represents challenges moving forward, and as the industry expands and the demand increases, the authorities must get to grips with how augmented reality might impact everyday life.

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Andy Timmins

Salvage Recycled Clothing

100% Recycled Clothing by Salvage

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We are proud to announce that we have expanded our range of custom sustainable and environmentally friendly clothing with 100% recycled T-Shirts, Sweatshirts and bags by Salvage.

Salvage’s unique production process creates a product that is both sustainable and high quality. Used plastic bottles are recycled, creating polyester, which is then combined with offcuts from organic cotton production that have been shredded and processed. The two materials are weaved in to a poly/cotton yarn that is knitted and woven to produce their clothing and accessories.

All Salvage clothing is Global Recycle Standard and Organic Blended Content Standard Certified.

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Andy Timmins

Shirtworks Now Supplying NUS Stores

nus-studentsWe’re delighted to announce that we have been awarded a contract to supply official National Union of Students affiliated shops with our printed and embroidered garments. Due to our established history of working with students, institutions, sports clubs, and societies, we’re very excited to receive this recognition from the NUS, and the team is looking forward to working with a number of NUS stores in Universities across the UK.

This development goes hand-in-hand with our commitment to taking ethical and environmental responsibilities seriously, with the NUS also placing huge emphasis on confronting environmental issues head-on. Our attitude and credentials served us well in gaining this contract, in particular our proud claim to be the world’s only printer and embroiderer to have formal accreditation from The Soil Association. This focus on environmental responsibilities is being reflected in the enquiries that we are receiving at Shirtworks, with more and more people asking us about our ethically sourced products. This highlights a wider interest in looking after our planet, and we see this shift in attitude as an extremely positive development.

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Andy Timmins

Digital Printing: The Impact of Technology on Garment Printers

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How Digital Printing Has Revolutionised Our Industry

Major advancements in technology impact every industry on the planet, and the garment printing industry is no exception to this. Fortunately, developments in printing technologies has positively benefited our trade and allowed us to provide even better results for clients on a grander scale. At the heart of these changes is the rise of the Digital Printing technique, and this article looks at what this means for the printing industry and the services that can now be provided as a result.

Traditional Garment Printing

Two of the more traditional printing techniques are Screen Printing and Vinyl Cut Printing. Screen Printing is the most popular method, and many of the printed garments that you will see people wearing in the street will have been created using this technique. Screen Printing involves creating a stencil and using it to apply different layers of ink, to the surface of the garment. Due to the time that it takes to set up a print run, Screen Printing is not usually appropriate for small orders, but is perfect for the mass production of detailed printed garments.

Vinyl Cut Printing is different in that a plotter cuts out letters or numbers and these are then applied to the garment using heat transfer. This technique is useful for sports teams who want individual names and numbers, but isn’t appropriate for larger scale orders.

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Andy Timmins

The Recovery of the Construction Industry & Impact on Workwear

A Recovering Industry?

b2ap3_thumbnail_customised-workwear.pngThe building trade is a dynamic and ever-changing industry. Recent years have been challenging for many construction firms, with the recession having a big impact on both large and small scale developments in the UK. The construction industry constitutes between 6 - 7% of the UK economy, so is one of the driving forces behind its success or failure.

Improvement

However, with the economic recovery apparently underway, we are beginning to see a welcome improvement in the fortunes of this sector in particular. The Financial Times has recently discovered that activity in the construction sector "rose at its fastest pace in six years" by August 2013, with 46% of Markit's industry report respondents expecting a rise in business over the coming year. Initiatives such as the Help to Buy scheme have boosted the trade and sped up recovery.

Moving forward, the government have introduced the Construction 2025 strategy, which sets out a vision for improving smart technologies and green construction within the sector, as well as more ethical and healthy supply chains. This is something that we are extremely interested in, considering our own accreditations and commitment to using ethically sourced products.

Due to a long-standing relationship with many companies in the construction industry, Shirtworks maintains a keen interest in the performance of this sector. The recovery of the industry has seen us receive an increasing amount of enquiries about our customised workwear, and this is a good signal that things are indeed improving.

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Andy Timmins

Infographic: Student Activities in 2013

Student Activities in 2013

With students now arriving at their Universities for the long-anticipated start of term, we thought that we'd put together an Infographic outlining some of the ways that students spend their time!

At Shirtworks we've always had a close association with Universities and with students. With thousands of young people involved with sport in Oxford and other University towns, we're often on call to provide customised kits to sports teams and University clubs.

We've taken some of the most interesting data from a recent NUS report to highlight some of the most popular extracurricular activities!

 

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Andy Timmins

Shirtworks Teams Up With Gandys Flip Flops

Shirtworks Teams Up With Gandys Flip Flops

 

Gandys Flip Flops are a truly inspirational organisation¦ 

Run by two brothers, Rob & Paul, who were tragically orphaned in Sri Lanka by the 2004 Tsunami, the company sells summer footwear in order raise money for a great cause. Their focus is on building orphanages in the developing countries that they visited during their time travelling, and in particular around the areas affected by the Tsunami.

Their movement is called Orphans For Orphans, and is committed to helping the people who need it most in the world's developing nations.

Their mission in life is inspirational, and their approach to their business is also admirable. They have deservedly received a huge amount of exposure in the media, including appearances on Sky, ITV, and BBC. Apart from anything else, their success is down to the fact that the flip flops look great and people love wearing them! 

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Arron Harnden

The White T-Shirt

Nice article on the classic white T-shirt that will make you more attractive!

If you want to up your chances of attracting beautiful women, you'll need to splash out on some expensive designer clobber. At least that's what most of us believe.

Alternatively, you could splash out on a plain white T-shirt with a letter T on it.

And apparently, you might be better off with the T-shirt. According to a new study, wearing such an item of sartorial elegance can increase a man's attractiveness by an impressive 12%.

Here's the T-shirt's secret and several more super-simple ways to present an altogether more appealing image to women.

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Arron Harnden

15 Awesome Sheldon Cooper T-Shirts

We at Shirtworks are huge fans of The Big Bang Theory so we have put together this collection of our favourite Sheldon Cooper t-shirts. Underneath each Sheldon picture there is information about which episodes he wore the t-shirt in. Please let us know which one you like best by leaving a comment or posting on Facebook or Twitter.

 

1. Flash Athletic Shirt

 

Info: As worn by Sheldon in Season 1, Episode 8 (The Grasshopper Experiment), Season 2, Episode 19 (The Dead Hooker Juxtaposition), Season 4, Episode 21 (The Agreement Dissection), and Season 5, Episodes 1 (The Skank Reflex Analysis), 5 (The Russian Rocket Reaction) and 12 (The Recombination Hypothesis)

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Arron Harnden

Teddy Hall Hunks win the day!

Ok; so Teddy Hall didn't win the Summer Eights event but they still scored a victory worthy of note.

The muscle men at SEH raced off the line with an early power surge only to have their stern chaffed constantly by a veteran Univ team who were last Torpids stash refund winners.

It is really impressive to see that some of the Oxford Colleges posses a unit cohesion which they are able to bring to bare in any fight. We would love to see some others taking part but I guess we can't all be 'alpha' colleges ;)

Wolfson and Keble looked like they might make a race of it but sheer weight of numbers from the two leaders kept them at bay.

This 'stash refund' event is proving a favorite on the racing calender so standby for the next big one to tie in with the Christ Church Regatta in November.

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Arron Harnden

Customer spotlight

Viridian are a great client of ours, out to improve your physical and mental health. Their recent "Sex and Vitamins" campaign used printed T-shirts to drive their message in a cheeky and fun way by using the two things that many of us need a lot more of.Viridian have been named as 'Best Buy' in Ethical Consumer magazine and also in the Good shopping guide.They were commended for their commitment to pure ingredients, environmental awareness and charity donations.The Daily Mails Dr Alex Richardson named the ViniKid Multi as the best children's multivitamin due to the purity of the ingredients.Viridian's supply chain is rigorously vetted to ensure that its products are free from GM products, irradiated ingredients, added sugars and artificial colourings.This makes them as pure as possible with no animal testing as part of the development.You can find these products at most good stockists or click here for more info.

 

Viridian decided on T shirts as their chosen communicative media as they believe in the sound marketing principle that advocates wearing their message will spread the word of their brand as 'ambassadors' far better than a digital media or print media campaign.

Who is going to miss their friend wearing 'Sex and Vitamins' emblazoned on their chest.

We think this a brave and clever move with the essence of their products distilled and simplified into two easy and emotive words.Hands up who wants more sex! Maybe vitamins are the answer......................

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Arron Harnden

Summer 'sizzlin' T shirt printing and embroidery products

There is a rumor that England did once experience a great summer. I have the vaguest memory of the tarmac melting on the road outside my house when I was about 6 yrs old, since then I am pretty sure I have spent most of the following 35 yrs in a sort of grey 'half light'.

Ever the optimist however, I am planning my summer wardrobe overhaul.

Here are some of my suggestions for some 'summer cool' clobber.

Lightweight summer sweatshirts

Sweatshirts have made a comeback on the high street and there are now some highly desirable 'fashionable styles to chose from the AWD range.

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Arron Harnden

Customer spotlight

Customer spotlight

 

Each quarter we will focus attention on one of our student customers to tell their story.

This year we ran a really popular TORPIDS STASH REFUND competition which was energetically contested between Univ and Wadham.

There could only be one winner and here is some of their story in their own words......

Univ W1 have seen a lot of change this campaign, with 5 new crew members - 3 of whom are novices. With a place in Division One of Torpids, we were determined to hold our own in the competition. The dire weather conditions this term could have put an end to that. However, we had a great new coach, John, whose creative training programme built our fitness and kept up team spirit. We also managed a couple of trips to the Redgrave and Pinsent Lake at Caversham. John's particular views on racing attire made us consider our stash decision very carefully. However, our awesome hoodies from Shirtworks didn't disappoint and John joined us at the bung-line on race day proudly wearing his.

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Arron Harnden

The power of branded clothing.....

You work in the Marketing department or you run a small business.

In the current economic climate you are experiencing a squeeze on your advertising budget. You know that you simply cannot cease all marketing activity but you need to make sure you get the biggest 'bang for you buck'.

It is not easy. You know that print media is in it's 'death throws', you know that the audience is sourcing its information online, you know that the average person is exposed to more than 3000 commercial messages in a typical week and is totally 'zoning out' where standard visual advertising is concerned. Digital advertising represents one part of the future of where your advertising budget will be spent as the 'real world' slowly disappears in favor of the virtual.But hold your horses, cool your jets and realise the power of branded clothing in the 'real world'!

There are at least three ways your company can use branded clothing.

1 Uniform for your staff

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Arron Harnden

Not all T-Shirts are equal

In today's highly competitive world of T-Shirt printing everyone wants to get the cheapest possible product but are you getting the best value for money? Often a customer will see the weight of a t-shirt and think that they are getting the best t-shirt because it heavier than the more expensive one. WRONGWeight isn't everything. Cheaper promotional t-shirts tend to be made from carded cotton which is a mixture of ragged fibers that are shorter and thicker than combed or ring spun cotton. This produces a t-shirt with a looser knit and is courser to touch than ring spun cotton. Combed or ring spun cotton takes out the weak fibres, but means that to get the same weight in cotton as carded you need to use more cotton as the weaker cotton is discarded. This process also is more time consuming and is the reason why you expect to pay a little more.The quality of the cotton can also have a massive effect on the quality of the print or embroidery that goes onto the shirt, especially with detailed prints. When we screen print your designs we print onto the surface of the shirt so the smoother the surface is the better detail we can get onto the shirt. You wouldn't paint wood without first sanding it down, well using a ringspun or combed cotton t-shirt is like having the wood sanded instead of painting directly onto unto unprepared surface. No where is this more apparent than digital printing. The quality of the shirt will be the difference between a great looking print and a dull one. The other process in the making of the t-shirt that effects quality is how the garment is dyed. Cheaper T-Shirts tend to be sulphur dyed which produces less vibrant colours and tends not to be as colourfast, whereas more expensive shirt will be reactive dyed which gives great vibrancy colourfastness.There are some exceptional value for money T-Shirt out there and if you stick to the main brands then you shouldn't be disappointed with your choice, but quite often it is worth spending that little bit extra to get a t-shirt that your customers want to keep on wearing and keep on showing off your brand.Bella Canvas have compared their cotton under the microscope in this diagram and it shows that sometimes it's worth paying that little bit more. Image Source

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Andy Timmins

10 Spectacularly Misspelled T-Shirts

.. or should that be 10 Spectacularly Misspelt T-Shirts? Happily, we've double-checked and both those words are correct. If only someone had double-checked these t-shirts before they went to print. Or, in some cases, before someone took them off a hangar, put them on and wore them out in public¦

1. Shakespearean

 

What do you do when you're a high street retailer and you've just made an almighty spelling mistake on a huge batch of t-shirts? Especially when that mistake is the spelling of The Bard's name? That was the dilemma faced by Top shop bosses when the t-shirt on the left went on sale. The solution? Chop off the mistake and put them on sale again (see the garment on the right.) Good job cropped tees were in that season.

2. Foward

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Arron Harnden
Great Collection, I'm sure there are many more out there!
Saturday, 09 February 2013 21:47
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Arron Harnden

Ethical T-Shirt printing

Why Shirtworks has chosen to offer an organic option and be the only Soil Association accredited screen-printing and embroidery company in the World.

It is an uncomfortable truth that the Earth has finite resources. The majority of us will press on with our complicated lives without the energy or will to confront this as a problem which we must all embrace at some time. If it is not going to be us, it will be our children or grandchildren.

These are words hang heavy as a cliche but the truth is inescapable. At some point in the 21st century we will be facing shortages of natural fuels, clean drinking water and fertile land which will propel us into new conflicts for scarcer and scarcer resources.

History is replete with such examples of nations competing for land, food, women and dominance; we have examples of ancient civilizations and cultures fracturing and decaying as the resources and the environment which sustained them become exhausted. So the problem is not a new one, but the difference between a Mayan culture disintegrating 2000 years ago and what might happen in the 21st century is that the world is now a much smaller place. We cannot simply move on to pastures new as the global population speeds inexorably to cover the entire globe consuming more and more and more.

So what can you or we do? Well, we can only do our little bit in our little sector to help. This begins with us understanding the problem and then having the will to act, read below to begin your journey.

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You are what you wear

Hiya, Luke here.

I am the Senior Sales Manager at Shirtworks and my blogs are all going to be about 'product'.

I will be focusing on seasonally relevant garments to bring them into focus and help you decide what would be the most suitable option for you.

In this blog, I will attempt to make a connection between the styles of winter jackets available through Shirtworks and how they may or may not match your 'brands' image.

For clarity, I am going to create a few segment profiles and show some of the styles available that fit the brand context of those segments.

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Arron Harnden
Ray Mears knows his stuff and his buns are big.Some people like big buns over tight ones.
Friday, 19 October 2012 14:17
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Arron Harnden

Discharge screen printing

Dis-charge printing is one of those things that some customers love while most printers will experience a cold shiver when the prospect of actually having to do some actually comes their way.

Screen printers and customers are often looking for strong vibrant colours on their dark coloured T shirts which plastisol deliver with such ease but at a cost. The print can feel heavy and rough as the heavy deposit required leaves its weighty impression.

The best way to describe the effect that discharge printing can give is just to describe the weight and softness that it offers when having to print light inks onto dark shirts.

Discharge inks managed to win for lightness and softness against plastisol inks for one simple reason. THERE IS LESS INK ACTUALLY GOING DOWN ONTO THE SHIRT.

This makes it lighter and softer to the touch compared to a heavy plastisol deposit that is often required on a dark shirt to achieve the required opacity on the ink.

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