United Kingdom-based Kitlocker.com operates within several sectors of the sports and leisurewear market, providing team gear for schools, football clubs, and other sporting organizations, managing e-commerce platforms on behalf of those organizations.
Enabling their customers to embellish popular styles on demand, in any quantity, drove them to explore available technologies for speed and versatility, particularly regarding polyester apparel, a cornerstone of sportswear. Until recently, digital direct-to-garment printing had offered fast, efficient, brilliant impressions on demand, but only for cotton and other natural fibres. That is where Kornit’s Avalanche Poly Pro system, and Kornit’s proprietary NeoPoly technology with inline fixation, came in.
“We were introduced to the Kornit Poly Pro in Dusseldorf,” says Mike Kent, Co-Owner at Kitlocker.com. “We presented a range of samples—in our industry, that’s quite key—and all of the print testing they provided us with was just fantastic. The machine took our raw designs and printed direct to fabrics we’d never seen. That kind of capability, the quality, the durability were all top notch. We were blown away.”
“When we were shopping around for alternatives, it was obvious the sort of single pass, and its ability to print on polyester, was certainly market-leading—there was no alternative that could do that,” he adds.
Having seen what the system could provide, Kitlocker.com ordered two of them, anticipating the necessary capacity for their long-term vision. Following installation, the business tested the systems on a range of products before expanding their portfolio for customers. Ultimately, the digital print process lent itself to easy integration with their workflow and online design tools, empowering customers to visualize their own pieces and receive finished gear, with superior retail quality and precise logo colour matching, in mere days.
“The Poly Pro allows our customers to uniquely embellish their garments on a wide range of products from different brands with lots of different kinds of creative outputs,” says Kent. “It allows us bigger print areas, more colours, and more elaborate designs, which hadn’t been accessible to our core grassroots football market previously.”
The onset of COVID-19 restrictions brought challenges for Kitlocker.com, with many team sports suddenly suspending their activities and demand for corresponding gear decreasing. However, according to Kent, the technology has enabled Kitlocker.com to approach new markets that had always been off-limits previously, driving incremental business and building out new product ranges. Extensive capabilities, coupled with reliability, make him optimistic about creating new opportunities to serve their customers.
“The Kornit Avalanche Poly Pro allows for far superior quality of finish for embellishment compared to traditional print techniques,” he says. “The machines are quick and reliable, with very little downtime, which is massively important to me as a business owner. We’ve got some quite exciting plans coming up on the horizon, looking at three significant projects to provide additional products to our existing customers, utilising the Poly Pros to embellish a wider range of colour-based product.”
Kent recommends Kornit Avalanche Poly Pro to those considering one, but encourages them to do so with an open eye to the opportunities it presents.
“You want to make certain you’ve got sufficient resources around design, and establish the internal technical support for operators to really leverage the true capabilities of these systems,” says Kent.