Promote Team Spirit

The Letterman Jacket is alive and well on high school and college campuses. Given as gifts, the jackets are often paid for by parent organized booster club fundraisers. The Unisex Flex Fleece Club Jacket from American Apparel works well for the jocks in the crowd as well as for students involved in other extracurricular activities. Its classic styling evokes images of the “All-American kid.” When it comes to booster clubs, there is a wealth of other products that promote team spirit and strengthen school pride while also helping to raise the necessary funds for future purchases.

Check Mate

You can't go wrong with plaid – you just can’t. A fashion staple for years, plaid stylings adorn everything from apparel to hard goods. Everyone from West Coast rockers to Northeastern preps drape themselves in plaid. You’ll find classic stylings on flannel and dress shirts, and some with updated features that ensures your plaid piece is current. Dress it up or dress it down, plaid is appropriate in a grunge rock concert hall or at a country club formal. You’ll find classic tartan patterns on ties and scarves for a sophisticated look and bold, traditional patterns on jackets, flannel shirts and hats exude a he-man vibe. 

Get In the Golf Gear

For many, Spring is the time of renewal. For others, it's a time to once again hit the links. And while weather can  be fickle, the right piece of apparel is important. The Greg Norman Heathered Stripe 1/4 Zip Pullover, from Vantage Apparel, is ideal for outfitting tournament staff members or as part of a golf club staff's uniform. It gives the wearer the ability to layer and be comfortable in any weather condition. But why stop there?  There's lots of other gear like polos, hats, sunglasses and more - that's perfect for increasing your brand awareness, especially at golf tournaments.


Top Choice

With a wide variety of women’s tops in the industry, it’s important to offer your customers the perfect one to fit their needs. The good news: from casual to corporate, there are striking options no matter which way you turn. Comfy tees, sophisticated button-downs and polished sweaters all fit the bill. Color matching is a breeze, particularly in classic colors like red and trendier shades like wine and maroon. Gone are the days of boxy, unisex shirts, and the variety on display confirm that when it comes to promotional items, women have ample choices.

Hot Styles For Cool Outerwear

Great looks come from cool details. Jackets are a perfect canvas for color, patterns and style features that are fashionable and fun. Here are some top trends to look for.

A new twist on traditional camo, which has been hot at retail, is offered by the Independent Trading Co. snow camo hoodie. “The snow camo has been a big hit,” says Margaret Crow, director of marketing for Americana Sportswear. “The camo trend seemed like such a fad when it frst appeared at retail, but it continues to strengthen, whether it is a licensed hunting pattern or digital camo or retro like the snow camo. The gray, black and white shading of this offers an alternative to the more typical green and khaki camo shading. This piece is perfect for the college market.”

Earlier this year Elle highlighted numerous outerwear trends worn by celebrities,
including a bright red peacoat worn by Taylor Swift. On cue with trends, Independent Trading delivers a promotional version in bright colors. “It’s a flattering ft with a detachable hood, epaulets with buttons and a button strap on the lower back,” Crow says. “It’s both practical and fashionable, and it’s much warmer than it looks. It can be worn as an outerwear piece or as a jacket with an outft. It elevates an outfit and it’s casual at the same time. I can’t say enough about it! It is in junior sizing, but it works for women as well. This is great for the college market or it can also be a uniform for counter employees who work inside but go outside, such as at rental car agencies, car dealerships or restaurants.”

Sherpa’s nubby, high-pile fabric is usually made from a combination of polyester and cotton, fabricated to look like wool on sheep. Sherpa jackets are described by as a classic: “The collars are turndown and lined with the same sherpa lining as the interior. That feature is both decorative and functional (the fast-drying sherpa lining won’t get sodden from snow or condensing breath as quickly as a cotton collar).” For promotional outerwear, it can be seen on everything from zippered sweatshirts to work-ready coats. “Sherpa lining remains very popular,” says Craig Smith of Rugged Outftters. The Carhartt Brushed Fleece Sweatshirt offers a fleece hood and Sherpa lining that is brushed for extra softness. “Like many styles of outerwear today,” Smith adds, “it features tech-friendly details such as a media port and loop to let you string earphones from a pocket, and a locker loop to facilitate hanging.”

Ready For Rugged Performance

Cold weather and extreme activity make rugged jackets a must. In particular, as work-wear, they need to be tough and durable. They must offer a shield from foul weather conditions or from physically challenging work that causes significant damage. In addition, the garment must have multifunctional features and allow for movement and exposure to spills or to harsh labor. “Rugged fabric construction like a Tuff Tech rip-stop abrasion-resistant technology, found on our 5368 Ranger jacket, is designed to resist wear and tear and to ultimately provide an additional layer of protection from the outdoor elements,” says Jessica Strain of Dri Duck. “In addition to fabric construction, features such as wind and water resistance and four-way stretch aid in the wearers’ comfort level, keeping them moving through wind, rain and cold temperatures.”

All of Dri Duck’s jackets are designed with heavy-duty features and trims that include triple-needle stitching and bar tacking at high-stress seams. Bar tacking is visible at pocket corners; it’s a dense row of stitching that keeps the pocket from pulling away from the jacket body. Function is paramount in outerwear meant for work or play, such as skiing. “Large front pockets are key to a jacket’s functionality and are designed for the wearer to reach in with a gloved hand,” Strain adds. “Another element that you’ll see on Dri Duck jackets is a high-quality YKK metal zipper for easy slide action and durability. Last, and probably most important, is a hidden scrim layer found on the back of all Dri Duck’s polyfll insulation, which is designed to ensure that the polyfll stays in place and doesn’t shift to the bottom of the jacket after wash and wear.”

Help our heroes and be a hero

The holidays are just around the corner, and it’s the time of year we start thinking about giving back. At ImageWear Solutions, philanthropy is high on our priority list: we think it’s important to support our community and the people who help make it a better place.

Today, I want to feature the great organizations we support. The people and places I’m about to talk about work hard everyday, year-round to help others and make the world a brighter place. I also want to give you a gentle nudge to put philanthropy on your list of goals for the New Year.

Without further ado...

Melody’s Angels
Melody's Angels is a group that meets once a month to package and deliver care kits to homeless men and women in the PDX area.

The Dougy Center
The Dougy Center provides grieving children, teens, young adults, and their families a safe place to share and work through their loss. Giving them an outlet, The Dougy Center offers peer support groups, education, and training. Sadly, on June 21 this year, The Dougy Center’s building was destroyed in an arson fire. They’re still helping grieving children and families in a temporary location, but need support now more than ever.

The Humane Society
As an owner of two dogs, animals hold a special place in my heart. The Oregon Humane Society has been working to help animals for the last 140 years. The Humane Society shelters abandoned animals, fights cruelty and neglect, and works to build a caring and compassionate community.

Oregon Food Bank
The Oregon Food Bank recovers food from farmers, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, individuals and government sources. It then distributes that food to 20 regional food banks across Oregon. In addition, the Oregon Food Bank works to eliminate the root causes of hunger through advocacy, nutrition education, learning gardens, and public education.

“We can change the world and make it a better place.  It is in your hands to make a difference.” – Nelson Mandela

Case Study: Sold-Out Show

Ticket sales for the concert were sluggish. The promoter needed to do something to stimulate interest – and fast. Fortunately, KTP Design Company was there to help with a deftly targeted promotion. Working through a distributor, KTP provided the promoter with 200 of its Custom Knitted Soccer Scarf With Fringe. The promoter used the scarves as an enticement: Buy a ticket, get a free scarf. Overnight, tickets started moving. So rapid were the sales that KTP’s distributor quickly reordered – and then re-ordered again. Ultimately, KTP produced about 800 scarves, and helped make the distributor a hero. “It was very visible ROI,” says KTP Design President Patrick Walsh. “The scarf directly stimulated sales.” The promotion worked well because the scarves, which featured the headlining act’s name, appealed to the 18-to-34-year-olds the promoter targeted. This demographic loves soccer, and these scarves were the equals of the scarves worn ubiquitously by European soccer fans. “The scarves’ style and the fact they were practical because it was cold outside made this a perfect promotion,” says Walsh. Made from extra-soft acrylic yarns, the scarf can feature logos, designs, team names and more that are knitted as part of the item, not embroidered or printed on. This gives the scarf a high-perceived value that attracts colleges, high schools, corporations and more.

Plaid Fad Has You Covered

Looking for that staple trend that never goes out of style? The plaid fad has you covered. This versatile print consistently makes its mark in both apparel and accessory markets and is sure to elevate your promotional gear from simple to simply cool. 

"Plaid is huge at retail, and it found its way into the promotional world as well," says Margaret Crow, director of marketing at S&S Activewear. Crow believes the trend's relevance relates to the classic design aesthetic, but additionally the ability to play with various color combinations. S&S Activewear's most successful target market, when working with plaid or flannel, tends to be college students.

Although plaid does sell well to a younger audience, it's important to remember that it isn't the only compatible market, says Jamie Henry, head of product development at Boxercraft. "Plaid no longer only represents a mountain cabin trip in the woods, or a grunge rock concert," she says.

Instead, plaid flannel appeals to those who value comfort. "Lounge wear is for everyone, and people are willing to pay for the best pair of comfy flannel pants, just like they do their favorite pair of jeans," Henry says.

When it comes to decoration, don't be intimidated by the boldness of plaid. "Take a cue from the college student styles," Crow says. Consider printing a large logo up the entire leg of plaid pants, or making an impact with an allover design on the back of a plaid shirt, she adds.

Plaid is everywhere these days, its appeal reaching beyond apparel to spruce up the packaging of everyday household products. "Some people don't notice this, but even Listerine bottles are sporting a plaid print," Henry says. Plaid seems to work for just about every occasion and every individual, making it an ideal trend for the promotional world.


Totes Sure To Get Attention

Tote bags offer clients an attractive apparel accessory that is sure to be used and get attention.

One of the most popular and convenient items to carry and use as an apparel accessory is a tote bag. It can be used for shopping, the beach, traveling, or as a general purse or carry-all. Its versatility is part of its charm and what makes it desirable for a variety of markets and promotional campaigns. The unadorned bags given out at the grocery store are being replaced by sophisticated, bring-with-you-everywhere styles.

Fashion experts at publications like GQ and Harper’s Bazaar have seen more stylish tote bags come into play recently. So is the trend being noticed in the promotional product industry as well? “Fashion defines our totes,” says Melinda Gorentz, category manager for Polyconcept North America, parent company of Leed’s. “You’ll find fashion integrated at every price point – from laminated nonwoven totes with a chevron pattern to our branded Guess and Kenneth Cole totes.”

It’s no longer about just putting a brand name on a bag, but incorporating fashion into it as well. When you bring together fashion and durability, you’re more likely to connect with a variety of markets. “There are two key styles gaining traction right now – utility and cotton totes,” says Gorentz. “Cotton, natural materials and colors are becoming more and more popular as seen in our Alternative line. We are also seeing a rise in utility totes that are all about efficiency.”

Because tote bags are so convenient, people will store whatever they can in them and use them multiple times, thus gaining valuable impressions for advertisers. Gorentz has even noticed the medical industry using tote bags more.

“Given the nature of the job,” she says, “totes are very popular and useful when it comes to carrying necessary gear for the day. Stethoscopes, charts, lunch – you name it – it’ll fit in a tote.” The practicality of these bags is noticeable, and it’s not just women using them. Gorentz saw more men than women with totes on a recent trip to Tokyo.

Your tote bag should make a statement; have some fun and get creative with them. Gorentz says, “Picking a bag is an art form, which is why making them fashionable is truly a science.”