Simon Ward, group sales director for Graham Gardner and Gymphlex, discusses the new GForce Essentials range and how clever positioning of logos can modernise a sportswear style
What prompted the introduction of the GForce Essentials range?
Gymphlex has been supplying school sportswear for many years, but the introduction of the GForce Teamwear brand in 2008 was a game changer for us. As GForce has continued to gain traction in the market and increase in popularity, now seemed like the perfect time to broaden the offering out to an even wider range of schools, hence the development of GForce Essentials.
GForce Essentials is a bespoke range, which is aimed at schools that want to invest in the appearance of their students and sports teams. It makes use of seven design templates, incorporating garments such as games shirts, T-shirts, shorts and skorts. Positioned at an attractive price point, this latest offering will, we believe, satisfy a gap in the school sportswear market.
How challenging is it to manufacture a performance product that is positioned at a lower price point?
It is always a challenge to achieve this! We are very aware how price sensitive the market is at the moment. There is a lot of competition out there and we are constantly balancing the designs we can offer with affordability and value for money. GForce Essentials fills a gap in the school market for those schools that want their sportswear to contribute to a unique feel and identity, but don’t have the budget for the top premium offering. We have been able to control our pricing structure by offering the range in a set number of colours and styles so it is more affordable to the wider market.
What has customer feedback to the range been like so far?
We recently launched the range at the Schoolwear Show and the response was fantastic. The feedback was that people liked the designs and the thought that had gone into creating the range, which is really positive. It has left us feeling very excited!
How do you think the performance apparel market will develop over the next few years?
There are always new fabrics coming into the market and our design team is continually looking to incorporate these into new designs. Increasingly, organisations want sportswear that not only performs well, but also has a bespoke appearance that creates an identity and makes students or staff feel part of something. We have to make sure we are meeting this customer demand in the years ahead.
What are the key style trends in performance apparel at the moment?
Designs that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with sportswear are becoming more popular. I think this is because the line between sportswear and normal, everyday clothing is becoming more and more blurred so we have to be smarter with our designs. It is much more trend driven.
And the key trends in colour?
I would say classic colours are still popular. For example, the GForce Essentials range is provided in traditional school colours such as bottle green, royal blue, red, navy and gold. In fact, 12 different colours that purposely fit the schools market are available for the core garments.
What are the main types of decoration currently seen on performance apparel?
Printing and embroidery are still the go to methods for decoration. We are beginning to use logos in different places though, so whereas usually a school crest would be on the left chest area, now we may have them on the sleeve or high on the shoulder. The positioning of the logo is important because it can modernise the look of a garment.
If you are playing around with the positioning of logos then it is vital to ensure the garment still looks balanced. Decoration has to enhance and work with the item.
What’s the best piece of marketing and sales advice you can give to Images readers to help them sell more GForce garments?
Bespoke sportswear is increasing in prevalence in the market, and end users are now much more accustomed to the concept, so my advice would be to sell the virtues of what a bespoke garment can do for a school, team or business. It’s all about developing a brand identity that everyone feels part of and that will give any team an edge on the playing field too!