Image courtesy of Russell.
Google ‘workwear supplier’, ‘corporate clothing’, ‘uniforms’ or a similar phrase, and you’ll be presented with a seemingly endless number of options. Inevitably, having checked these companies out via their websites and made a shortlist, you’ll need to contact them to ask some questions. Whether you’re looking for T-shirts, business shirts, overalls, baseball caps or sports bags … embroidered, printed or heat-pressed … here are the most important things you’ll need to find out, either in your initial search or when you make contact.
Choose a UK supplier. In general, they’re easier to do business with. The quality from the UK supplier isn’t necessarily better than that from one based abroad, but you have more chance of redress if there’s a problem, as well as being able to resort to the Trades Description or Sale of Goods Acts or other relevant legislation. Look for a physical address that’s at commercial premises, and a UK landline. Bear in mind that even if a website has a ‘.co.uk’ address, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is based in this country.
Does the supplier produce the goods?
A considerable number of suppliers don’t actually produce the goods they’re selling. This is frequently the case with many promotional merchandise companies, who provide anything from pens to mugs, but are clear that the personalisation is outsourced. However, a large number of workwear and apparel specialists also claim to carry out their own personalisation … but don’t. Use them, and you’re paying a ‘middle man’, as well as having less control over quality and delivery.
Range and choice
It’s important that your supplier lists a wide range of products – even if they’re not off-the-shelf. Check for their range of garment suppliers, fabric weights (normally quoted in gsm or g/m²), sizes and colours.
A good workwear supplier will do their best to be flexible when it comes to quantity and delivery– especially when it comes to supplying specials or one-offs. However, do remember that however helpful a supplier, they may simply be too busy to accommodate your needs.
Quality and service
How can you tell if a supplier’s product and personalisation quality – or their customer service – will meet your expectations until after you’ve placed your first order? Read reviews, ask colleagues and other businesses for recommendations. Also, check warranties and returns policies.
If you’ve narrowed down your list to companies which fit the above criteria, check to see what embroidery and printing equipment they have. Is it sufficiently up-to-date to produce the latest designs with the highest quality? Is it fast and large enough to produce the size and quantity you’ll need according to your evolving needs? If this information isn’t detailed on the website, ask the question.
You may notice that we haven’t mentioned price. For many – even most companies, price is an important factor. But as is the case with most things in life, you only get what you pay for.