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Understanding Promotional Apparel

Breaking into and selling some of the promotional industry’s most popular, yet complicated, products

May 2012 By Michael Cornnell
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Apparel makes up an enormous part of the promotional products industry, rivaling pens and drinkware as one of the largest and most commonly sold product categories. Much more complicated than selling a bundle of pens or travel mugs, however, selling apparel can be a little daunting for the uninitiated.

How do you know what sizes to buy? What the heck is appliqué and why does everyone want it on their jackets? Where would you even start when filling an order for 500 girls travel soccer jerseys?

All important questions, and by no means the only ones you'll have to answer when selling promotional apparel. But with any complex topic, mastering promotional apparel is just a matter of breaking a big subject into a lot of smaller pieces, then learning each as you go. Here is a simple guide to help you fill your first few orders and send you on your way to adding promotional apparel as a reliable and easy part of your sales arsenal.

RESEARCH SIZING

Sizing is probably the biggest challenge unique to promotional apparel. At first, it might seem complicated, but there really isn't much to it besides learning to estimate the size range of your user group and figuring out how that relates to the specific apparel you're using in the sale. So, how do you go about doing that?

"Look at style and fit guides and size charts available from most top suppliers," said Lee Strom, senior marketing manager for apparel supplier SanMar, Preston, Wash. "Those generally speak to how each brand is sized, the different measurements for men and women, and offer guidelines for target audiences. It's important to note that fits for the teen/young men market are very different than adult sizing and that all smalls, mediums and larges are not created equally," he explained. "Also, order a sample to get a real-world look and feel for specific styles."

For more fitted or expensive garments, something called a "fit line" also is possible. "What that means is to have garments of various sizes available for the associates to try on," said Taraynn Lloyd, director of marketing for Edwards Garment, Kalamazoo, Mich. "That way they can determine for themselves what size works best."

 

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