“And just like in interior design or architecture, the juxtaposition of mixed materials, or in this case, fashion top with high-fashion bottom or layering, is hotter than hot,” he continued.
All it takes is a little bit of imagination. Pairing a fitted club cotton tank with a pair of dress slacks is a great example. In doing so, users get a mix of the “smart casual” and high-end feel that Scult described above. “It works when one might perceive it wouldn’t,” Scult said.
– From June 2015’s “Fashion Sense”
ON ATHLETIC AND PERFORMANCE APPAREL
1. Play it cool.
John Perez, marketing associate for Tri-Mountain, Irwindale, Calif., named moisture-wicking and venting as two of the most sought-after features for golf apparel, as users want gear that provides an edge on the green. “When on the course, comfort and body temperature is huge. Getting a shirt that helps regulate these factors is important,” he explained. “Also, pros are wearing slimmer fits—loose and hanging material could potentially hinder movements on the course.”
– From March 2015’s “Fairway Fashion”
2. But bring the heat, when it comes to decoration techniques.
Screen printing remains popular with high- to medium-volume orders that have one- or two-color imprints; however, heat transfers have risen to the favorite decoration method, Mary Blondell, promo marketing manager, Stahls’ DFC, Masontown, Pa., said. “With the performance wear and technical fabrics, the go-to decorating method would be heat transfers of full-color or special-effect designs and logos,” she said. “Heat transfers continue to increase in popularity due to the ease of application, durability and mess-free decorating when screen printing and embroidery are not an option, due to fabrics and/or location.”
– From April 2015’s “Creating the Right Look”
3. Mix it up.
Tsedenia Kiros, director of design for Charles River Apparel, Sharon, Mass., shared a trend that ties into lifestyle. “‘Athleisure’ is a hot trend in both men’s and women’s apparel that mixes a broad category of clothing like athletic apparel, loungewear and business casual, making it appropriate for everyday wear,” she explained. “This is not a trend that will dissipate anytime soon, because it has such a strong appeal and creates a lifestyle aesthetic for the wearer.”
Popular retailers, like Lululemon, Athleta and Loft, have incorporated this look into their product lines, offering everything from designer leggings to cashmere wraps. Charles River Apparel has responded to the demand with a selection of yoga pieces, better sweaters, lightweight jackets and a cardigan wrap, Kiros said.
– From May 2015’s “What Women Want”
4. Resolve to sell style.
One standard New Year’s resolution is “workout more often.” No matter how long people stick to this resolution, they want to look and feel good while they do—so it should come as no surprise that activewear remains a staple in the world of promotional apparel. Cynthia J. Baker, PR and promotions manager for Heritage Sportswear + Virginia T’s, Hebron, Ohio, is particularly excited about activewear and performance apparel this year, with Heritage Sportswear + Virginia T’s offering new workout items, like color block capris with contrast inserts, fully reversible shorts and a reversible racerback sports bra—all practical, stylish additions.
– From December 2015’s “2016 Apparel Preview”
ON JACKETS AND OUTERWEAR
1. Always prepare for the unexpected.
The very word “golf” conjures up images of sunny, blue skies and gentle spring breezes, but if you’ve ever watched an event staged at St. Andrews (or anywhere else in the U.K.), you know the weather isn’t always so cooperative. Even in good-weather markets, golfers are going to need outerwear for the occasional chilly day or sudden rainstorm. And while that has typically meant a windbreaker or jacket, Joel Freet, CEO of Cutter & Buck, Seattle, has noticed increased demand for knit outerwear. “Times change and what people are expecting for a layering piece has shifted considerably to what we call overknits,” he said. “These layering pieces can have a variety of technical features—we have added water repellency to many of ours—and are great lifestyle pieces that are as comfortable inside as outside.”
– From March 2015’s “Fairway Fashion”
2. Pitch “domestic chic.”
When trying to reach a younger demographic, looking at what items are selling at retail stores can give you a clue into what clients want. Getting the right look, whether it’s a design or color scheme, or a specific style or fit that is in at the moment, is key to selling any apparel. “Many of our new fleece items are designed with a similar look and feel of what one might find in retail stores,” said John Perez, marketing associate at Tri-Mountain. “Stripes, slim fitting hoodies, contrast zippers and drawstrings.”
Morey Mayeri, president of Royal Apparel, Hauppauge, N.Y., said that it also helps when end-users see the benefit of high-end material and products made in the U.S. “The end-user has to see the upside in at least one of these aspects in order for the distributor to close the deal,” he said. “We always tell distributors that our products work great with the ‘premium’ end-users.”
– From July 2015’s “Warm and Toasty”
3. Peel away the layers.
Nadia Santoli, manager of corporate communications and media relations for alphabroder, Trevose, Pa., said that 3-in-1 jackets have always been a practical source for the fall and winter months. “If a wearer doesn’t want to sport a heavier jacket, simply removing a layer will do the trick,” she explained. “As of late, 3-in-1’s have evolved to interactive jackets (with both a lightweight piece and fleece component). A corporate active wardrobe can be enhanced with a versatile and stylish interactive jacket that features a loop system. Loops secure both layers together, and usually can be found at the neck and sleeves.
– From August 2015’s “Merging Merchandise”
4. Keep your eye on the size.
This isn’t a product you’ll find firing out of a T-shirt cannon. Outerwear has to fit right, user-to-user. “Forecasting inventory has always been the biggest challenge,” said Terry Chen, general manager of Landway International, San Francisco, Calif. “Whereas most other promotional products are one-size-fits-all, outerwear suppliers need to stock every size from XS to 5XL, and talls, too.”
Norman Bishop, president of Bishop Custom Clothing, Vancouver, B.C., agreed with Chen, naming sizing as one of the most overlooked aspects of outerwear. Every supplier’s sizing fits differently, so it’s important to get feedback on how the jackets should fit and what they’ll be used for. “Perhaps they are trying to outfit truck drivers or perhaps they are trying to fit a European division; these fits will be significantly different,” Bishop noted.
– From September 2015’s “Take It Outside”