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Monthly Customer Spotlight: Vantage Apparel

  • 5 min read

This month in our Customer Spotlight we are featuring Vantage Apparel who is a top 25 producer of clothing with custom logos in the United States. With over 40 years in the business Vantage Apparel has provided over 760,000 logos, and 33 billion stitches to customers worldwide.  Vantage serves customers with custom merchandise in North America operating three facilities across the US, close to 1200 embroidery heads, in house screen printing, laser applique and laser etching equipment, DTG printing and heat transfer decoration.

In 2023 they decided to start a digital transformation and focus on their first direct to consumer efforts and they partnered with us here at StoreAutomator to power their effort.

Vantage serves a range of customers from the largest companies white labeling products for their company store to the smallest buyer just looking for their initials on a single polo. Let’s take a quick look at some potential Vantage Apparel customers so we can better understand who they serve and how.

The Big Guys

One traditional customer type for Vantage Apparel is large brands looking for totally white labeled clothing lines for their employees.  Big Company USA (not a  real company) comes to Vantage Apparel and asks for custom embroidered polos, quarter zips, and hoodies, as well as screen printed tee shirts for employee appreciation day and laser applique backpacks with Big Company USAs logo. 

Vantage Apparel goes to its high quality blank products, changes the label to say Big Company USA, embroiders, prints, appliques, inspects, packs, and ships the order to Big Company USA. They now have a store full of completely white labeled merchandise for their employees to purchase as well as tee shirts for employee appreciation day. 

The Messy Middle

For a midsized customer the big question is embroidery vs screen printing. Embroidery can run multiple dozens of pieces per hour using Vantage Apparel’s 8 head embroidery machines, and it takes only minutes to set up a run.

Screen printing by contrast takes 45 minutes to set up, but once everything is ready Vantage Apparel can run over 800 pieces per hour from one screen printing setup.

The type of the garment, complexity of the logo, and the size of the run are all going to influence the unit economics of the two choices.

The Small Guys

Vantage also has individual embroidery heads that can sew a logo on anything they sell. These are perfect for small orders of one to three items. One employee can run 4 machines because of Vantage Apperal’s software that automatically turns images into stitch patterns.

Click here to see the full version of this interview.

How does StoreAutomator fit into Vantage Apparels Vision?

Stay true to what you do better than other people. This was a core ethos we saw in action everywhere in the Vantage Apparel operation. Vantage is great at decorating and enhancing garments. Bringing their collection online to a multichannel audience is something they could potentially do with enough time and money in house, but it’s not what they want to be the best at, so instead of spending time and treasure on something that’s not their core competency, they instead went looking for a expert solutions provider to partner with.

A Digital Transformation, What is it Good For?

Our CEO Gokhan sat down with Vantage’s CDO Chris to talk about digital transformations. Vantage’s desire for a digital transformation was what originally brought them here to us at StoreAutomator. One of the first questions Chris answered for us when we interviewed him was what advice would you have for other leaders trying to lead a digital transformation, and Chris’s answer was straight from New Jersey and made for clipping, “I think a lot of people that go down a transformation path forget who they are as a business and what their core business is … You’re not a technology company, like, you know, I’m an apparel company. I’m not going to build it better.”

Realizing that digital transformations are not what manufacturing companies are good at, and wanting to stay true to their core business, Chris launched a search before arriving at StoreAutomator. Chris liked that we were big enough to have all the power of the big guys while still small and nimble enough to handle any custom development Vantage Apparel would need. By finding the right partner the rest of Chris’s team could stay true to their core mission, and do what they do best, apparel, and we do what we do best for our customers, managing their channels and products so they can focus on their core business.

What Comes Next?

The next newest piece in the digital playbook for Chris and Vantage Apparel is https://vantageapparel.io/. Chris explains it better than we can, so to quote the new website, “Vantage Apparel’s Decorate On-Demand offering enables distributors to submit single-piece decorated apparel orders, allowing for efficient and flexible order solutions from API integrations, company store platforms, and ecommerce sites without the need for large inventory commitments.” 

Print on demand empowers small creators to do what they do best, content, branding, and marketing, without needing expertise in manufacturing or the capital for a large commitment to merchandise. This is the same empowerment we bring at the channel and product management level in ecommerce, which allows everyone to do what they do best. Focus on their core business!

Check out https://vantageapparel.io/ and don’t hesitate to reach out to sales@storeautomator.com to inquire about powering a digital ecommerce transformation of your own!