Patterns Are Hot

In terms of promotional apparel, buyers are eager for wearables with retail-inspired looks – including stripes and patterns, according to Ratcliff. Which demographics are smart targets? “Industries that employ millennials, or that are interested in creating on-trend retail looks, are particularly interested in incorporating patterns and stripes into their promotional wearables,” says Norman Bishop, president of Bishop, The Garment Co. Bishop advises, when selling patterned products, to “have fun with it” while ensuring the apparel is on-trend. Ratcliff adds that athletic teams, as well as the health and wellness industry, are drawn to bold designs.

Earth Day Promotions

EARTH DAY, AN INTERNATIONAL CELEBRATION of our planet, raises awareness for environmental protection. For brand savvy professionals, this day provides an opportunity to promote with earth friendly items. “Eco-friendly products span across all industries,” says Brian Padian, vice president of business development at Logomark Inc.. “That’s the beauty of them. There isn’t one corporation in the Fortune 1000 and beyond not concerned about the environment.”

Clothing, accessories, key chains, notebooks, tote bags and more can be created with environmentally safe methods. Not only do eco-friendly products remind end-users to respect the planet, they also associate your client’s brand with a positive green message.

Pretty In Pastels

Satisfy your company’s sweet tooth with candy-colored pastels. Pantone, which picked two pastels, Rose Quartz and Serenity, as its colors of the year, proved that these light colors work with just about everything, from patterns to darker hues. Pair two pastels together: The result is a preppy color-block look. However, pastels can be found outside of the country club, too. Many professional and college sports teams, like the University of North Carolina Tar Heels and 2015 World Series champion Kansas City Royals, have incorporated light blues into their team colors and uniforms. 

Floral Promotions Inspire Warmth

BRIGHT, COLORFUL FLOWERS epitomize the onset of spring, symbolizing rejuvenation, beauty and hope. Perhaps that’s why a flower show – a mosaic of picturesque plants – appeals to audiences of all ages and walks of life.

Consider eco-friendly ad specialties to advertise flower- filled events, such as recycled or post-consumer products and soy-based inks. Environmentally conscious products are “a great way to promote your company as well as your thoughtfulness toward the Earth,” says Breeze Holmgren, sales and marketing coordinator for Bloomin Promotions.

Images of flowers evoke a “laid-back, fun-loving lifestyle,” according to Sunit Sikri, director at Sun ‘N’ Sand Accessories. In addition to the spring season, Sikri suggests floral promotions “inspire warmth, laughter, friends, family, vacation and harmony.”

Tee Off This Season With Athletic Attire

WHEN IT COMES TO GOLF APPAREL, the best way to discover what’s trending is to go straight to the source. Jeff Nero, sales representative from Tri-Mountain, advises decorators and distributor salespeople to “turn on the TV and spend time watching a PGA tournament. See what the top pros are wearing, and get ideas on the fashion and styles they’re wearing on the golf course.”

Golf apparel buyers, according to Nero, look for trending colors and designs, as well as modern fabrics and fits. “It’s a smart move to take advantage of the millions of dollars spent in research and development by top apparel companies like NikeAdidas and others,” he notes.

Spring Fashion Trends

RING IN SPRING with fashion-forward apparel that gets your clients’ brand buzzing. On-trend promotional clothing “often becomes the end-user’s favorite item to wear,” thus increasing visibility, says Glen Brumer, sales director at Royal Apparel.

RING IN SPRING with fashion-forward apparel that gets your clients’ brand buzzing. On-trend promotional clothing “often becomes the end-user’s favorite item to wear,” thus increasing visibility, says Glen Brumer, sales director at Royal Apparel.

According to Brumer, this season, clients are seeking eco-friendly, sustainable styles, made-in-USA garments, “athleisure” – including leggings and tank topsmilitary chic camo, vintage looks, soft-hand fabrics and polos.

In terms of color, greens are extremely popular for spring, says James Andres, marketing coordinator for S&S Activewear. “Between St. Patrick’s Day and Earth Day, there are tons of events and promotional opportunities for green,” he points out. Themes of sustainability and growth also tie in to the hot hue.

Placket Possibilities

Placket shirts are found everywhere, be it as school uniforms, a professional look at the office, or any time the situation calls for a clean-cut flair. Here are just a few of the styles available for your apparel program.

Pocket Polo
The Port Authority pocket polo features a soil- release finish to combat stains and odors. Made of 5.6-oz. 60/40 cotton/ polyester double piqué knit, style K559 has moisture-wicking properties and resists wrinkles and shrinkage. Other features include a self-fabric collar, a left-chest pocket, a double-needle back yoke, a four-button placket with dyed-to-match buttons, open-hem sleeves, and side vents.

3 Button Polo
Style CGM550 from Callaway Opti-Dri Polo, is made of 5.3-oz. 95/5 polyester/spandex jersey knit fabric. The polo’s Opti-Dri technology has moisture- wicking properties, and the Opti-Shield creates a layer of UPF 50 ultraviolet protection. The Opti-Stretch fabric includes interwoven layers of spandex to ensure a maximum range of motion. Other features include a rib-knit collar, a three-button placket with Callaway embossed buttons, a double-needle hemmed bottom with side vents, a heat-sealed label, tonal embroidered Chevron, embossed Chevron on the back of the neck, and contrast embroidered Callaway logo on the right sleeve. Available in eight colors, sizes S–4X.

Double-Pique Shirt
The DryBlend Adult Double-Piqué Sport Shirt, style 72800 from Gildan, is made of a 6-oz. 65/35 polyester/ring-spun cotton blend. Featuring moisture-wicking technology, the shirt has side seams with side vents, a contoured welt collar, and two color-matched buttons on a placket with a clean finish. The women’s companion style features a semi-contoured silhouette. Available in 14 matching colors, men’s sizes S–5X and women’s sizes S–3X.

Jersey Polo
Izod offers a great jersey polo in men’s and women’s styles. Made of 60/40 cotton/polyester, the women’s polo features a five-button placket and a feminine silhouette. The men’s style has a three-button placket and a regular fit.

Artwork Dilemma: Displaying Your Products

YOUR ARTWORK DILEMMA: One decision every shop will face is how to show off what it produces. Will a permanent display be part of the shop layout? Does it need to be portable for shops that work at craft shows and other events? What’s the budget for creating a display? How will customers be interacting with it? An ideal display will meet a shop’s needs, while also acting as a dynamic selling tool that best presents items in an appealing, inspiring and informative way.

Solve this dilemma: The first thing to do is to sit down and answer the above questions. It may be that some shops will want one permanent display for use in the shop proper and another to take on the road. Other shops that operate in a space that isn’t open to customers, or sell exclusively at events will only need a traveling display. Another consideration is what the display is intended to do. Will it include blank shirts to give examples of types and sizes available?

Will it encompass multiple decoration techniques? Finally, consider the budget. For smaller budgets, a look book with pictures or a home-built display may the best. For shops with larger budgets, custom-built displays may suit.

Takeaway Tips
1. If you’re designing a display that will be taken to events, remember that lightness and portability are key. Also consider ease of setup. The display must be durable, as it’ll frequently be taken down and put up. A fragile display won’t stand the stress of constant moving. A display that’s too heavy or complicated will cause stress of a different sort for shop employees. The ideal combination is some- thing lightweight and strong that can be set up easily.

2.  Another thing to consider with a portable display is how much room it takes to transport. Most shops that travel to events use a car, van or small box truck. A display that takes up too much space will be costlier to transport and harder to set up. Collapsible displays require less space and are generally easier to set up.

3.  Displays range in cost from $20 for simple cardboard setups to hundreds of thousands of dollars for custom wood and metal devices. A good display will pay for its own cost by helping sell additional product.

4. Make sure your static display is durable enough for your needs. Ask yourself: Is this display intended to be part of my shop fixtures, or will things be changed or removed frequently? Will customers be able to take parts of the display down to feel materials or prints?

5. A display is a form of advertising and should echo your shop’s branding. So, if you sell primarily heavy metal band T-shirts, don’t set up a display decorated with pastel colors, for example.

Blog post written by MIKE ROMANO

Tri-Mountain’s Award Winning Styles

Tri-Mountain was a big winner in the annual Wearables Apparel Design Awards!

BEST OUTERWEAR: Tri-Mountain took its classic Summit Jacket (8900) and created the updated Edge with contrast yoke panel and more open bottom hem for a fresh style. Danny Tsai, Tri- Mountains's vice president of merchandising, says the contrast paneling makes the Edge Jacket a stand- out piece. “It’s a classic contrast yoke, but the subtle angles make for a modern look,” he says. The jacket features Tri-Mountain’s EmbAccess system that conceals embroidery backing. “The logo will really pop off the top contrast yoke panel,” Tsai says. “It’s perfect for anyone working outdoors. I also see ski resort written all over it.”

BEST POLO: Tri-Mountain designed the Lady Streak Polo (KL025) to “stand out in the very competitive polo apparel category,” says Danny Tsai, vice president of merchandising for Tri- Mountain. It’s made of 100% polyester mini- pique and features Tri- Mountain’s UltraCool wicking technology. “The printed stripe across the top contrast yoke matches the body color while framing a company logo perfectly,” Tsai says. The Lady Streak Polo would do well with embroidery, heat transfer, borderless heat transfer and laser etching. “Heat transfers and laser etching are ideal because they’re weightless,” Tsai says. “Heat transfers allow the logo to pop more than laser etching, which is more subtle.”

March Madness - Your Next Slam-Dunk Promotion

March Madness! According to Benn Chazan, national sales manager at BamBams LLC, ad specialties surrounding this event fall into two categories: cheering products (noisemakers, attention grabbers) and premium products, which are kept and valued after the event. “A combination of these two things will be the most effective,” he says, “or a single item that’s effective in both ways.” Chazan advises, due to the fast pace and uncertainty of March Madness games, products focus on branding for the event (March Madness/NCAA Tournament) instead of specific teams, and items should feature the tournament year, references to Indianapolis (location of the Final Four), and/or some type of brackets in the artwork. “These are staples of March Madness,” he explains, “and they’ll increase the value of the giveaway to the end-user and, by extension, to the advertiser.”