When you walk into the office suites of Vapor Apparel, you can’t help but relax. The entire staff greets and smiles, doing everything but literally opening their arms in welcome. The office space reflects this laid-back and genuine attitude, giving off the vibe of “garage sale chic,” as Blake Bukowsky, Director of Operations, calls it. Vapor’s clothing fills the display windows and hangs on racks inside the suite, begging visitors to flip through the different styles.The two suites in Noisette and huge warehouse in Daniel Island are a far cry from the humble beginnings of Vapor Apparel: a few shelves of product in President Jackson Burnett, IV’s kitchen. Chief Revenue Officer Chris Bernat and Burnett are the founding fathers of Vapor Apparel. They go way back, first meeting each other on the campus of Clemson University. After both working in the textile and apparel decoration industries, they put their heads together and saw the opportunity to develop a line of apparel specifically manufactured for sublimation, a method of decorating synthetic fabrics. This line of apparel is Vapor Apparel. The company has come a long way from Burnett’s kitchen; they now have more than twenty distributors in North America, Europe and Australia and a mill in Colombia that mostly runs on environmentally safe hydro-electric power—and business is doing anything but slowing down.
Vapor Apparel is, bluntly put, performance apparel. The clothing utilizes Intera technology which makes the fabric wick moisture away from the body. Intera’s technology is patented and permanent—it will not fade after numerous washings—and is odor and soil resistant. Other performance apparel lines on the market are coated with wicking fabric treatments. This means that after a number of washings, the wicking power will decrease, and the shirt will only wick at a percentage of what it did when brand new. After twenty washes, Intera fabric still dries over 100 minutes faster than other “performance apparel” lines. An added bonus for this impressive fabric is that it is 100% environmentally safe and responsible. The end result is a line of performance wear ranging from baby doll tees to zip hoodies that help you to stay comfortable and dry during the most extreme conditions.
Vapor Apparel’s performance apparel can be decorated with sublimation, embroidery and screen printing. This means that the customer has endless options for creating the designs that he or she desires. While the line only started out with one or two different shirts, Vapor Apparel’s clothing now comes in more than a dozen styles and more than two dozen colors. This adds up to over sixty color/style combinations, meaning that there is a style to suite any taste.
This performance wear line isn’t the only thing going on in Vapor Apparel’s world. Beginning in March of 2008, the company will begin producing 100% recycled poly garments. This new line of fabric will be made from entirely recycled materials ranging from plastic soda bottles to the industrial waste left behind in factories. This is just one more way that Vapor Apparel is keeping their company increasingly environmentally aware and green.
A new venture of Vapor Apparel is off the ground and running, already bringing in an impressive amount of business from even more impressive names. Source Custom gives start-up clothing lines one place for every service needed—from prototyping and costing to mass production and decorating. Source Custom has worked with actor Morgan Freeman, musician Nelly, and created specialty shirts for the local Cooper River Bridge Run. As Bernat explains, “We can make everything from high end fashion tees to jeans that retail at $350.” Source Custom has also worked to enhance decoration techniques with Chris Daughtry’s new clothing line, which is already making a buzz amongst Daughtry’s fans. The high quality and design of Source Custom’s products are so impressive that they have already “leveraged relationships in the Los Angeles and New York Fashion Districts to deliver comprehensive apparel solutions,” Bernat explains.
From the ideal athletic wear to high fashion clothing lines, this company’s team is making a mark in the apparel industry. By maintaining a high level of environmental soundness, Vapor Apparel’s staff stays aware as to what their affect is on their environment. In a time when being green is increasingly desired, Vapor Apparel has the ability to boast being environmentally safe from day one. Pay attention, Charleston: fashion history is being made by a booming company called Vapor Apparel in a couple of suites in the Noisette building in North Charleston.