Apparel Graphic Academy

Safety Apparel Chat with Jim Mickelson

Hi. This is Erik with Northwest Custom Apparel. I’m here with owner, Jim Mickelson, and today we’re going to be discussing safety apparel, safety jackets, safety hats, safety vests. Jim is a leader in the embroidery industry. He founded Northwest Custom Apparel 40 years ago. That’s right, 1977. This is the 40th anniversary. We’re just going to have a quick interview with Jim here, and we’re going to be going over safety apparel. Jim, tell us a little bit more of safety apparel.

Safety Hoodies, sweatshirts with safety stripes. Safety orange sweatshirts

At least 10 years ago, it wasn’t a big item. You could just see guys working on these construction projects in their old Carhartt jackets, beat up sweatshirts, or whatever you can imagine they could put on, but now since the new OSHA laws have come out, safety is of paramount importance, which means that all those guys better take off their hooded sweatshirts and their flannel shirts and they get dressed in safety gear.

The thing about safety gear now it’s just not something that’s visible. The three colors of safety gear are bright orange, green, and … yellow. Anything that these people wear on a job site has got to be those three colors, and by law, they have to be recognized. Another thing is that they have to have safety stripes on their wearable gear, so it’s created a whole new industry of suppliers that could provide the construction companies with ANSI approved safety gear.

Now, they have ANSI approved safety hats, which are the flat hat, but you can’t wear those is because you got to wear a hard helmet on the job site. We got to focus on your wearables, which is your rain gear and your outdoor gear which has got to be rugged and be able to withstand the elements. You want stuff that is stitched really good together. Otherwise, when they’re working around heavy machinery it’s going to get ripped up or caught or destroyed.

Right now, we got to focus on safety gear and everything has to be ANSI, A-N-S-I, American National Standards Institute, in the collar, and it has to have a label. Wearing a safety jacket without the label is against the law, so [inaudible 00:02:39] everybody, after reading this article I hope you’re buying safety gear.

One last question, Jim. We’ve talk about the safety wear. What do you recommend for custom decorating the safety wear? Do you recommend embroidery, screen print, digital print? What works best with the safety gear?

Actually what works the best is embroidery and it lasts long. Trying to screen print on safety jackets is just a nightmare because of the placement. Some people use transfers, which is okay. Anything on the back you can use a transfer or a screen print, but if you’re going for the front between the stripes, you got to have embroidery.

Jim, thank you for the tips. Where can we purchase the safety gear with embroidery on it?

You can get a hold of Northwest Custom Apparel and we have a website,, and we will have a link to the Tingley manufacturers of safety gear. If you’re looking for Tingley, we have some good discounts that we don’t put on the web. The only way you’re going to get them is by calling our customer service reps.

Thank you, and that was a great interview with owner of Northwest Custom Apparel, Jim Mickelson