5 Primary Applications of Apparel Graphic Products

A promotional banner from "Northwest Custom Apparel". The banner's headline reads: "5 PRIMARY APPLICATIONS OF APPAREL GRAPHIC PRODUCTS". To the right, there's an image showcasing folded blue tie-dye shirts with a design reading "MUCKLESHOOT SALMON JAM". Each shirt displays a stylized salmon graphic. The bottom section of the banner contains contact information, including a phone number "1-800-851-3671" and a website link: "".

1. Employee Identification

Whether for businesses, schools, or government, identifying employ­ee’s is big business. From uses for security to customer service, the applications vary from building pride, making it easy for customers or constituent groups to spot staff members or service employees, and celebrating events to being welcome incentives and/or recognition for employees (for achievements in safety, sales, length of service) and as employee gifts. Among the largest drivers for decorated apparel products is for employee use in conjunction with policies requiring employees to be identified at all times when on the job.

transfer, heat press

Employee Identification is professional

2. Advertising & Promotion

Who gives away shirts? Just about any business or non-business entity that wants to promote its goals, activities, services, products, brands, or special programs gives away shirts. Or, in many cases, sells them to tar­ get audience members who want to identify with whatever the cause is. Included in this application is the use of decorated apparel as incen­ tives. Test drive a new Ford 150 and receive a cap emblazoned with the embroidered logo of the area’s favorite team. Anyone who drops 25 pounds in a Weight Watchers® program merits a well-deserved “Big Loser” T-shirt. Take the stage at Murphy’s Irish Pub’s Wednesday night karaoke event and earn a cap; command the biggest applause and win an American Idol-like embroidered jacket; get the loudest boos and earn a “Biggest Fool” T-shirt! Show up at a local supermarket’s grand opening and receive a free oversized canvas bag. You get the idea. And chances are good you ‘ve gotten a few freebies yourself over the years. People get free stuff and then promote the donor company to hun­dreds or thousands of people over the life of the garment or accessory. By the way, I’m often asked if there ‘s any data as to the advertising reach – and cost-effectiveness – of decorated apparel as an advertis­ing medium?

In a study I was commissioned to undertake for a major apparel manufacturer as to the number of advertising impressions generated by custom-decorated T-shirts, the results were astounding. Worn while outside the home during a full day of typical routine activity -excluding attending sports events, concerts, and gatherings at other big venues or crowd centers — a T-shirt with a full-front imprint is seen by some 200 people. Worn once a week, that ‘s more than 10,000 advertising impres­sions in one year. And if worn to class, a mall, or a public event, the 200 impressions a day can escalate to thousands of advertising impres­sions within a few hours!

Employee Identification

Employee Identification

Let ‘s say at a selling price of $7 per custom shirt, $1 invested in a

T-shirt with a full-front design does in fact generate those 200 adver­tising impressions per day. After wearing the garment ten times, the body it’s on has produced 2,000 advertising impressions.  That’s about

$.0035, point-three five, or just over one-third of a penny per adver­ tising impression. In some major markets, that same figure would be competitive with mass communications media such as a news-hour commercial on television or a billboard on a major artery!

On an attractively decorated shirt that the user enjoys wearing regu­larly, the impact on customer loyalty and awareness — every time the user sees the design when she washes the garment, takes it from the dryer, folds it, puts it in a drawer, takes it out later, and sees herself in the mirror wearing it — is empirically inestimable in dollars and cents. But I’ll bet the qualitative impact on the user is downright huge.

3. Membership and Participation

People who are proud of the group or activity they participate in want to brag about it. It’s easy to do that bragging by wearing deco­rated apparel to broadcast their affinities. In some cases, shirts or caps or bags are given  to members  as part of  their membership package, registration fee, or as a reward for participating in an event or program.

4. Revenue Generation

For some buyers of decorated apparel, selling their garments is a way to make additional -sometimes substantial — money. If they’re success­ful at it, that success is derived largely from the fact that their customers love the place, product, or service, want to identify with it or remember it, and find the selling price represents good value for the item.

5. Fundraising

Northwest Junior Rodeo

Northwest Junior Rodeo Raising Money

Organizations of all types need money to serve their members and fulfill their missions. Selling decorated apparel provides them an oppor­tunity to build revenues wile providing products their members and supporters want to buy and wear or give as gifts. Of course, it would help a great deal if the items are made attractive and relevant.

But there ‘s another ”category” of sorts that shouldn’t be overlooked: hybrids of those cited above – such as combining advertising with membership, or revenue generation that provides additional incentives. Such hybrids occur when selling shirts or caps at a profit or distributing them without charge; and when the garment is worn to the advertiser ‘s location, the wearer receives a dividend or benefit. For example, when worn on Friday to a local eatery, the shirt or cap earns the customer receives a free soft drink with lunch, or when worn to a popular bar, earns the wearer free admission by getting the establishment ‘s cover charge waived.

Your acuity in identifying those areas, factors, and applications where you ‘re more likely to succeed and harnessing these factors to your cre­ ativity in combining two or more elements to create new and unique market positions gives you tremendous near- and long-term opportuni­ ties to grow and prosper.

Limited capital shouldn’t be a constraint on your thinking here and may, in fact, be of value in forcing you to narrow your focus.

Hopefully what you’ve gained in Section Four is an understanding that making a proactive effort at properly and more intelligently position­ing your company gives you far better strategic firepower than leaving such weighty matters to happenstance.

“The Business of T-Shirts” by Mark Venit

Erik Mickelson

Northwest Custom Apparel

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Antonio Massey

Production Team: Folder

Antonio Massey recently joined NWCA in June of 2022. His role on the Production Team has greatly improved our processes and productivity. Antonio is always willing to lift heavy boxes or help his co-workers during busy times. In his free time, he enjoys playing with his dog and mastering video games.


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Alicia Wada is passionate about helping her co-workers at Northwest Custom Apparel in any way that she can. She works in our Shipping and Logistics department. Alicia, who goes by Ali, has a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics. She lived in Japan for ten years and recently brought her family to America in 2019. She is interested in learning crafts and textile art from around the world.


Erik Mickelson


Erik Mickelson’s position as Manager is more than a job, it’s a passion. It’s always fun and exciting because he enjoys marketing, computers, and coming up with innovative ideas to help NWCA grow. He majored in accounting and finance at Washington State University, graduating in 1996, and returned to school to obtain his Master of Business from WGU, graduating in 2016. Erik continually strives to advance his education through podcasts, audiobooks, and industry tradeshows. He is married to a remarkable and caring wife named Wendy, a Registered Nurse, with whom he shares his many hobbies and a love for the outdoors.



Ruth Nhoung

Production Manager

Ruth Nhoung is our Production Manager and Northwest Custom Apparel is lucky to have her. Thanks to her vast knowledge of machine embroidery and dedication to creating a comfortable and supportive work environment, the production plant runs smoothly and customers are pleased with our work. She is a loving mother and grandmother and enjoys spending quality time with her siblings. She says, “I love everything about Northwest Custom Apparel: the people, the atmosphere, the work, and the customers. I love what I do and I embrace all of NWCA’s core values”.


Steve Deland

Art Director

Steve Deland has been our amazing Artist since 2017. He loves working at Northwest Custom Apparel because he appreciates the goal-oriented, progressive-thinking management style. He is most passionate about his art, which includes scroll saw woodwork, and his five grandchildren.



Taylar Hanson


Taylar Hanson is a highly acclaimed Saleswoman at Northwest Custom Apparel. She has a BA in Apparel, Merchandising, Design, and Textiles from Washington State University. “Go Cougs!” The best part of Taylar’s job is getting to work with longtime customers who trust us to do the best work and take care of their needs. She is passionate about appreciating nature, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.


Nika Lao


Nika Lao is very knowledgeable in how the business is ran because she began as an Embroidery Machine Operator and has worked hard to become the excellent and personable saleswoman she is today. She enjoys the stress-free environment and the many chances to connect with her co-workers over potlucks, BBQs, and bowling parties. Nika is a proud sister of two highly successful brothers and can boast mastering three languages herself: Khmer, Thai, and English. She is an avid camper, enjoys going to farmer markets, and loves cooking.


Bradley Wright


Bradley Wright has been a vital team member of NWCA since 2017. As our accountant and knower-of-all-things, Bradley is proud to work closely with his wonderful colleagues. He studied at the University of Washington. These days he dedicates his free time to his new house.


Dominic Nguyen

DTG Operator

Dominic Nguyen recently joined our Direct-To-Garment department. He says he loves the family work environment at Northwest Custom Apparel. In his free time, Dom likes to listen to music, hangout with friends, and play video games. He comes from a very big family which can be very chaotic at times, but is always exciting.


Sothea Tann

Production Team: Trimmer

Sothea Tann recently joined the Production Team in 2022. She finds Northwest Custom Apparel to be a good working environment with helpful and friendly staff. In her free time, Sothea spends quality time with her family and, overall, focuses on a peaceful and happy lifestyle.


Brian Beardsley

DTG Supervisor

Brian Beardsley has been with Northwest Custom Apparel since 2018. He is our DTG Supervisor. Brian loves that he gets to work with high-tech machines in a fun atmosphere. He has a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design. He said, “I always wanted to create visually interesting assets in a variety of mediums”. In his free time, he enjoys building and painting models, playing video games, designing, and playing his guitar.


UT Tri Tran

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UT Tri Tran loves Northwest Custom Apparel so much that, although she has already retired after a long career in machine embroidery operations, she is happy to return part time. She says, “I love the family style work environment and how everyone shares food, laughter, and fun on a regular basis.” In her free time she is dedicated to living a healthy and peaceful lifestyle with her friends and family.



Embroidery Machine Operator

BunsereytheavyHoeu, who goes by Theavy, won our Operator of the Year in 2021. She takes on many roles in the production team. She says, “These are not my co-workers, these are my family! I cherish all the memories we make together”. When she goes home to be with her family, she makes the most of her time with them by holding family get-togethers and even karaoke competitions.


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Kanha Chhorn

Embroidery Machine Operator

Kanha Chhorn has been an Embroidery Operator with Northwest Custom Apparel since 2018. She is delightful and always makes everyone smile and laugh. Kanha takes on additional tasks that allow us to exceed our customers’ expectations. In her free time, she can be found at her local temple or spending quality time with her family and friends.


Savy Som

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SavySom is one of our Machine Operators who is passionate about embroidery and sewing. She enjoys working at NWCA because of its flexibility. She has two teenage sons and loves spending time with her family on the weekends.



Embroidery Machine Operator

SorphornSorm has been a Machine Operator since 2011. One of her four sisters works here as well. Her other relatives are in Cambodia. In her free time, Sorphorn studies English, listens to music, and enjoys exercising.


Jim Mickelson


Jim Mickelson, after a successful career with a major oil company, founded Northwest Embroidery in 1977. This was the first commercial embroidery in the Pacific Northwest. Over the years, Jim has become the guru of embroidery never refusing to answer a question or offer advice to his fellow embroiders. Jim and his wife Leeanna raised four wonderful children who went on to successful business careers.

Northwest Custom Apparel
Northwest Custom Apparel
152 Google reviews
Janice Herron
Janice Herron
Love their amazing customer service! From ordering over the phone, through email, or in person at Northwest Custom Apparel, everyone is very helpful, and very nice! Always! We have been ordering our apparel for our local small business through them for many years! Thank you Thank you!
Morgan Pero
Morgan Pero
Excellent people, products and customer service!
Drew Halverson
Drew Halverson
Great product offerings/results, swift communication, and helpful staff. Highly recommend!
Tim s
Tim s
Northwest Custom apparel always does great work! We have been a customer for over 25 years and are always satisfied with the products we get!!
NW Custom Apparel treats us like we’re their only customer! Everyone is always so friendly and helpful. They’re great!
Randy Birch
Randy Birch
We us Northwest Custom Apparel for our work shirts and they are incredible. The staff is super friendly, the quality of workmanship is outstanding and they stand by the work they do. I love this place.
Heidi Christiansen
Heidi Christiansen
The company I work for has been buying custom apparel for the team members for years now. We love working with NW Custom Apparel because the process is easy, delivery is timely, and materials are high quality. Anytime I’ve ever had an issue, they’re quick to resolve it. We’ve purchased both embroidered items and DTG graphic tees. We’ve purchased blankets, shirts, jackets, hoodies, etc. Everything ends up looking super professional, and our team members always have positive things to say. Ally is always there at the warehouse with a smile and a friendly greeting when I pick up materials. She is so helpful and respectful. Taylar is a wonderful customer service rep. I’ve sent her some complicated orders—like 20 different items with all different colorways and styles or 150 items with three different styles—and she is so good at getting everything just right. I plan to continue purchasing from NW Custom for high-quality custom apparel.
Hoa DeBusk
Hoa DeBusk
Have used them for years. Knowledgeable team that is always so helpful in recommending options or creating designs. Great quality too for embroidery or digital prints. Very happy with them as a vendor.
Stacey Perez
Stacey Perez
We use Northwest Custom Apparel for all of our professional embroidery needs for the orthodontic office I work at. They do great work, are quick and have never missed a deadline. Highly recommend if you need any custom apparel needs.