Printwear 2017 Year in Review: Acquisitions, Additions, and Anniversaries

Mike Clark is the associate editor for Printwear and Sign & Digital Graphics magazines. Contact him at

It’s hard to believe another year is almost upon us! As the holiday season nears its close, and 2018 comes into view, Printwear takes a moment to look back at some of the major stories involving apparel decoration companies and broader events that affected the industry.

Acquisitions, as with previous years, topped many of the months’ headlines, kicking off in January 2017 with a major announcement by Gildan that it had acquired American Apparel. The move marked a major shift in manufacturing and production for the company that had previously operated predominately out of Los Angeles.

The original American Apparel factory in Los Angeles. (Image courtesy Wikipedia/American Apparel)

While ownership changed hands at American Apparel, TSC Apparel entered a formal distribution agreement with the company’s former CEO Dov Charney to carry the designer’s new apparel line, Los Angeles Apparel. Elsewhere, Hanes reported its purchase of the Georgia-based brand Alternative Apparel in the Fall of 2017.

In the sports and athletic industries, brands such as BSN Sports and Badger Sportswear unveiled multiple acquisitions throughout the year, expanding their respective footprints in the team and collegiate wear markets.  For the equipment arm of the industry, various companies announced partnerships and acquisitions, including an acquisition by The M&R Companies of wide-format manufacturers Novus Imaging, and an agreement by Kornit to provide Amazon with direct-to-garment equipment for its custom apparel program. In the inks and chemicals category, 2017 saw agreements like that of PolyOne Corporation’s acquisition of North Carolina-based Rutland Group, and Prism Inks’ acquisition of Graphics One

2017 also proved to be a year of milestone anniversaries for many companies, some marking more than a century in the industry. Edwards Garment traced their roots back to the company’s early days as the Kalamazoo Pant Company, celebrating their 150th anniversary earlier this year, while Sportsman Cap & Bag reflected on their heritage in April 2017 with a company celebration honoring company founder Abe Yeddis, grandfather of the company’s current president. The occasion marked what would’ve been Yeddis’ 100th birthday. Family lineage remained a constant theme in anniversaries as well at Penn Emblem Company, where the organization celebrated their 70th year in business. Founded in the late 1940s, the company is currently in its third generation of family leadership by Randi Blumenthal-Joseph.
L-R:  Sportsman Cap & Bag founder Abe Yeddis, Penn Emblem Company former owner Robert Blumenthal and current owner Randi Blumenthal-Joseph. (Images courtesy Sportsman and Penn Emblem)

On a broader scale, the industry saw its share of challenges brought on by major weather events across the continental U.S., and stretching into Puerto Rico. Back-to-back hurricanes affected companies throughout Florida and Texas, prompting responses that included everything from clothing drives to donations for school sports programs. Similar efforts were launched to deliver water, clothes, and other essentials to hurricane-ravaged areas of Puerto Rico.

Growth was also a common theme at many companies who added new facilities and square footage nationwide. GSG revealed multiple expansions in areas like Ohio and Minnesota while companies like S&S Activewear pushed their total square footage into the multi-million range with the opening of a new distribution center in Fort Worth, Texas.Near the year’s close, Heat Transfer Warehouse also announced plans for a new Florida branch, projected to open in early 2018. printwear
The recently opened S&S Activewear Fort Worth, Texas location. (Image courtesy S&S Activewear)

Closer to home, Printwear continued to forge ahead with new educational content in print and digital realms with the help of industry veterans and well-known columnists. In October 2017, we celebrated our 30th anniversary, and look forward to many more years as a trusted publication.

The cover of the Printwear 30th anniversary issue. 

We continue to learn more about our peers through outlets like our Shop Snapshot column, which profiles decorators around the country, and feedback from readers who follow our publication and e-newsletter. As we ramp up for 2018, we look forward to hearing more of your thoughts and bringing you quality content, as well as the most up-to-date news coverage.

Wishing you a safe, healthy, and happy New Year!