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MARCH 2003


Rick Roth is with Mirror Image Inc. Specializing in textiles, his company produces T-shirts and canvas bags, as well as in-house spot color separations.

Are you folks keeping busy?

Yes. Our business is way up. It is not easy to track hard and fast because we have a mix of custom and contract...but it definitely is up.

Are you seeing any notable trends?

More people want packaging and relabeling of various kinds. They want full-service capabilities with custom garments, as well as greater variety.

Companies like Alternative Apparel and American Apparel are pushing fashion on a faster cycle than the mills. New companies are coming in that are changing colors and styes more often. There's a lot more thought being put into the women's market, with suppliers offering styles that women actually want to wear - as opposed to what men think women want to wear. We just had an order for 5,000 black baby-doll shirts. I think that is pushed by those new lines of shirts.

What about order sizes?

They're changing, too. The middle orders are going away. We're getting orders where people are doing 10,000 to 20,000 shirts and then smaller orders of just 1,000 units. We get a lot of requests from people wanting impossible things at small quantities. We just say no. I see a movement toward people caring about how things are made - whether it's because of environmental concerns, labor concerns, etc. For instance, we are going to be working closely with several companies that want organic cotton shirts from manufacturers that are union-or worker-owned.

A change that has not had its full effect yet is how you can go down to Old Navy and buy a printed dark shirt for $5. So when your customer buys a shirt at Old Navy, they don't want to pay more than $5 for a custom shirt. Old Navy is making and printing them offshore, but who knows under what conditions? It is greatly affecting screen printers.

Are you adding any new decorating techniques or services in the near future?

We are going to add embroidery. Why? Because we have a large customer for it!

Rick Roth is president of Mirror Image in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Reach him, toll-free, by phone at 1.800.370.7755 or by e-mail: Check out the company's web site:

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