2024 Decorated Apparel Industry Outlook

Aaron Montgomery shares the challenges and opportunities he foresees for the industry this year.

2024 is off to the races, and we find ourselves nearly four years removed from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. These last three to four years have brought massive shifts and changes to many industries, and the apparel decorating and personalized gift industry is no exception. The old ways of doing things have transformed, leading to new, innovative approaches to adapt and better serve our customers each year. This doesn’t mean there are no more challenges, but with challenges also come opportunities.

I have also had the opportunity to talk to many people in the industry on the 2 Regular Guys Podcast and through supporting hundreds of small businesses with Our Success Group. From those discussions, I will also share my forecast for the apparel decorating and personalized products community.


I always like to start with the challenges because, in every challenge, there’s an opportunity for growth. By acknowledging what we’re up against and adopting an abundance mindset, we can find innovative solutions. Two challenges I see are:

  1. Supply chain disruptions: We’re still grappling with issues in global supply chains that affect the availability and cost of materials. I believe some of this stems from the missteps distributors made before the pandemic, which then allowed them to use the pandemic excuse to bolster their profits. As decorators, we must re-examine our vendor relationships, and get creative with how that relationship is leaning. If your relationship with your key product vendors is merely a website login and you are forced to play only by their rules because that is just the way it is, I would say that is a telltale sign that it is time to make some changes. Your distributors play in a competitive market just like you do, even if they act as if they are the only game in town.
  2. An uncertain economy and rising costs: The inflationary pressures are pushing up the costs of production and materials, which may also impact consumer spending power. This will certainly remain a challenge in 2024, especially with the presidential election with more consumers holding on to discretionary spending. This will mean that decorators need to focus more on the problems they solve and make sure they don’t become a commodity to their customers. If the only selling point your customers have to go by is whether can you give them the lowest bid, you will struggle in 2024. You have to figure out how to make your services more about the value you bring and less about the price they pay. Those are two different things.


As noted, challenges bring growth opportunities, and as I see it, there are several promising opportunities for product and garment decorators:

  1. Expanding to online stores: The move towards online sales has been significant. From $3.5 trillion in 2019 to $5.7 trillion in 2022, a notable 62.86% increase in global e-commerce sales illustrates that this trend isn’t slowing down. As decorators, we should be helping our customers capitalize on their online presence, be it through setting up online stores for local organizations or becoming merchandise suppliers for online influencers.
  2. Customization and personalization: The growing demand for personalized apparel is an opportunity to stand out from the competition. The key lies in efficiently managing numerous individual orders instead of large bulk ones, which means a deeper dive into understanding fulfillment, forming robust partnerships with shipping companies, and adopting a more customer-centric business model.

Current day

Beyond the opportunities, we need to understand the hurdles that might be in front of us. In 2024, the customer priorities are going to be torn. Sustainability is no longer a buzz marketing term, but a requirement. The buyer has increased awareness and demand for eco-friendly and ethically produced apparel. Understanding what that truly means to your customers is crucial. The challenge for the buyer will be the balance between that demand and their price sensitivity.

I do feel there will still be economic uncertainties, and the buyers may prioritize affordability. But they will still demand quality and durability. There is already a shift towards long-lasting apparel and lifetime personalized products moving away from “fast fashion” and trinkets and trash. The challenge for the decorator will be finding the balance of those three points that will meet their customer’s needs.

My suggestion is to focus more on niche markets or specific demographics that align with sustainable and ethical production. Then focus less on mass-produced, low-margin items that face stiff competition and might be less profitable.

Looking forward

My outlook for 2024 is positive yet reserved. Considering the economic outlook and business spending trends, there could be moderate growth in profits, especially for those who adapt to changing consumer preferences, embrace e-commerce, and invest in new technologies. However, this growth might be tempered by cost increases and economic uncertainties so decorators must make decisions based on their unique business foundation, not based on some guru’s general get-rich formula.

Decorators need to be very clear about what their reason and values are, who exactly their ideal customers are, and what specific internal challenge they can solve for their ideal customers. The decorators who have clarity and confidence can look forward to a rewarding 2024, especially those who are focused on service and fulfilling their reason for existing as a company.

What is your outlook for the industry in 2024 and beyond?

Aaron Montgomery

Aaron Montgomery

Our Success Group

Aaron Montgomery is certified by New York Times best-selling author Jack Canfield as a Success Principles Trainer and has nearly 30 years of experience providing essential support to small businesses. His company, Our Success Group, assists with setting and reaching goals, creating a solid business plan, knowing their numbers for a better pricing strategy, and establishing a customer-focused approach while devising a targeted marketing strategy. He is the author of the business foundation book ‘The FUNdamentals of Business Success.’ He is the Co-Founder of a facilitated 6-month Mastermind collective called Radical Goal-Getters. You can also find him hosting a weekly show called Small Business Saturdays and co-hosting the 2 Regular Guys Podcast.

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