FROM LUGGAGE BAGS and tags to travel journals, postcards and more, logoed travel gear makes its mark around the globe. “Travel items are successful promotional products because these products travel all over the world and allow for more exposure,” notes Audrey Cobb, executive assistant at IDProductsource. “People who travel often, especially for business purposes, are more likely to use these products regularly.” To pique buyers’ interest in travel items, Cobb says, highlight their functionality. On-the-go end-users want products that are easy to use and fulfill their needs before and after reaching their destination. Look no further for products that deliver.
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 Nike, Adidas and others,” he notes.
On a summer day, dozens of employees gather outside of the office for team building, delicious food and lots of brand-tastic impressions. The CEO and other execs sport logoed aprons while whipping up lunch – using a branded grilling set. Workers pull ice-cold beverages out of insulated cooler bags, reinforcing their positive feelings about the organization that provided such versatile items. Meanwhile, to thank them for working hard this season, the company gives logoed caps and sunglasses to each employee. Paint a picture of this scenario in your mind, and turn it into promotional reality with the eye-catching items like the 2-Side Patch Pocket Apron (EF53) from Aprons, Etc.
A novelty just a decade ago, the T-shirt is now one of the most popular wearables worldwide. “People of all ages wear T-shirts,” notes Kim Hamlin, director of business development at Storm Creek. Glen Brumer, sales director at Royal Apparel, adds: “The T-shirt can be worn from casual Friday to a relaxing day on the beach. It’s one of the most comfortable garments you can wear.”
As a promotional tool, the tee offers versatility and variety. “You can take a simple T-shirt and make it fun with the right graphic, decorating technique, color or a clever saying,” Hamlin says. According to Brumer, “the T-shirt is one of the only wearable items in your wardrobe that allows for self-expression – in essence, it becomes a billboard.”
From understated to big and bold, stripes offer fashionable flair and promotional panache. “Stripes are versatile, simple and elegant, and they never go out of style,” says Anne Zimmer, president of Sailor Bags. “Their versatility allows them to be executed in ways that can make them fit very different demographics,” Zimmer adds, pointing out the universal appeal of the pattern.
One such demographic, according to John Anderson, national sales manager at The Antigua Group, is the golf apparel market. For brands, Anderson says, “Stripes are a way of standing out without being too flashy.” To spice up your striped apparel, one-color embroidery is best, Anderson advises. “Horizontal stripes make a nice canvas for company logos,” Zimmer says, “as they provide baselines and visual anchors to the decoration.”
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 seems to work for just about every occasion and every individual, making it an ideal trend for the promotional world.
Build your fan base with promotional athletic wear. Wherever end-users go, your company’s message will be proudly displayed. “Athletic wear is on-trend, comfortable and easy to wear,” says Leah Hulon, a designer for Expert Brand. “Gone are the days of athletic wear only being worn during a workout” or during a game.
According to Jim Dusbiber, promotional products sales manager at CHAMPRO Sports, clients prefer athletic attire that has “a contemporary look and feel” as well as modern performance fabrics and the ability to offer a wide range of branding opportunities. “Athletic wear can help a company tie in a ‘teamwork’ theme or foster a culture of physical activity and healthy living for employees,” Dusbiber points out.
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, 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.
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.