Of all the things that can derail a race weekend, outfitting your team in the wrong apparel isn’t usually high on the list. Until it is.
Anyone who’s ever been stuck wearing cheap material, over-printed T-shirts, or gear that doesn’t adequately protect against the elements knows the importance of choosing the right custom racewear.
If you’ve never been through it before, that’s perfectly okay…you’re in the right place. Because part of our mission at Styled Aesthetic is making sure that nobody has to experience buyer’s remorse over the wrong choice of team gear. And much of that comes from knowing what to avoid when researching apparel and apparel design.
1. Ill-Fitting or Cheap Material
Nobody likes cheaply made clothing. It looks and feels terrible, it doesn’t last, etc. For race teams that work in unforgiving conditions, the problems with poorly made apparel are compounded. Energy and attention that should be focused on maximizing on-track performance are instead spent worrying about whether your team might actually be slowed down by what they’re wearing. Not ideal.
When working on the car, in the pits, or really any racing environment, teams need apparel that moves with them. Cheap clothes don’t do that. What’s more, clothing must be durable and versatile enough to perform equally well in different environments (dirt, asphalt, etc.) and weather conditions. You can almost guarantee your crew is not operating at full capacity when members are outfitted in material that isn’t optimized for the job they’re doing.
2. Over-Printed T-Shirts
It may not seem obvious at first, but over-printed shirts can create serious problems for race crews. Take heat, for example, which is invariably a factor in garages, pits, and trackside. While big designs and prints may look great, they’re not suited to working in warm environments (i.e., they won’t do you any favors in the staying-cool department).
Busy designs make any shirt feel heavy on account of all the extra material. An over-printed shirt also won’t breathe like it’s supposed to; consider the theory that less is more when it comes to breathability. Plus, big and/or complicated prints will eventually break down faster from wear.
3. Clashing or Mismatching Colors
It’s easy to fall into the color trap: a gray is a gray, a red is a red, etc. But you’d be surprised how much variation there is among shades, tints, and other characteristics. You don’t have to be an expert–you just have to know that getting the colors even slightly off can spoil what would otherwise be a cohesive, well-thought-out look.
Unfortunately, the repercussions often extend far beyond just your team not looking its best. Mismatched or clashing colors can have a negative effect on how others perceive your brand. In racing, especially where sponsors and potential sponsors are concerned, image and appearance are critical. The last thing you want is a team that screams “amateur” because of conflicting tones or disjointed designs.
4. Hat Selection
Hats may seem like a simple accessory, but it’s become nearly impossible to keep track of all the options out there. Besides, everyone has their own opinion about what type of head covering looks and feels best. Getting the team to agree on one style of hat can be a struggle in itself…and that’s assuming the vendor you’ve chosen even carries the agreed-upon item.
In short, there’s a reason buyers of team apparel hate dealing with hats. So, it’s all the more important to partner with a supplier who understands this nuanced product. The difference between those who do and those who don’t will be apparent in the amount of time and money saved (or wasted, if it’s the latter) during the buying process.
5. Shrinking Apparel
It’s great when a new shirt fits right out of the box. But shirts eventually get washed, and that’s where things get dicey if you haven’t bought the proper type of apparel. Shrinkage–where shirts go into the wash one size but come out a whole size smaller–absolutely can and should be prevented.
Again, understanding material properties, including which are prone to shrinkage and which aren’t, can go a long way toward selecting the right custom racewear. An experienced, knowledgeable vendor should help steer you clear of materials that don’t keep their proportions through a wash.
6. Apparel Not Suited to the Environment
Bad weather is no fun. Getting caught in bad weather without adequate protection from the elements is several times worse. If you’ve spent any time around racing, you know the havoc Mother Nature can wreak on a day at the track.
Quality apparel is built to withstand harsh environments–much like engine or chassis parts are engineered to perform under demanding conditions. And while we can’t predict the weather, knowing what types of elements your racewear is suited for will undoubtedly pay dividends when climates start to turn.
7. Buying Apparel
Let’s face it: Nobody enjoys spending money on team apparel. Racers want to race, which means most of their budget goes toward parts and equipment designed to make their cars turn quicker lap times or clock lower ETs. As a result, buying racewear often waits until the last minute…or is not given the time/attention it deserves.
Working with a vendor that understands the product can help streamline the process and eliminate the headaches typically associated with buying apparel. The right partner will walk you through things like which pieces are most important, how to maximize your budget, etc.
Buying Custom Racewear Doesn’t Have to be Painful
Buying custom racewear doesn’t have to be painful, especially when you know which pitfalls to avoid. Keeping the previous points in mind should help you decide how best to outfit your team.
There’s enough risk involved in racing without variables that you can control being left to chance. Among them are the vendors you choose to work with. Like every other member of the team, your racewear supplier should be a valuable, dependable partner who understands its role and knows how to deliver when called upon.
As racers ourselves, Styled Aesthetic eats, sleeps, and breathes the business. And we’re happy to lend you our expertise and experience to create a profitable merchandise program tailored to your team’s needs.
So, when you’re ready, just reach out and set up a free assessment call with Steve Welk, our head of marketing and sales (and co-founder). And let Styled Aesthetic go to work for you!