Layering: The ‘less is more’ approach works best

Layering is a trend that has evolved over time to present a wide range of stylish possibilities involving all sorts of apparel.  Top designers and fashion houses for its versatility and adaptability adore it. Levi’s, Michael Kors and Prada are among the high-profile labels that have spotlighted the trend recently. Given clients’ growing predilection for retail-inspired looks, layering is a trend that distributors should capitalize on.

Michelle Swayze, marketing director of In Your Face Apparel, says layering lends itself to promotional wear in numerous ways. The first benefit is the protracted wear-ability value of the layering garments themselves. “Layering allows the consumer to benefit from any given promotional apparel piece for the full year, which in turn provides the business with a longer branding life for the apparel,” Swayze says. She offers an example: “If you offer tank tops in the summer for a program, you can offer a coordinating hoodie/jacket for the fall/winter months that will allow the summer tanks to be worn through the rest of the year into spring.” Such a plan can be extended to cover all kinds of apparel, she notes, naming “sleeveless shells with cardigans, cotton summer dresses with business style overcoats and/or hoodies (depending on the type of business) for winter, and T-shirts with thermals or sweatshirts.” 

The second benefit of layering is the chance to develop a branding look. “If your brand colors are red and black,” Swayze explains, “you could do a red promotional printed tee with a coordinating black thermal overlay featuring a reversed-out color-schemed design.” Even if you don’t pitch multiple garments, you can still present what Swayze calls a “layered-look apparel piece” (perhaps a female short-sleeve top with built-in sleeves) that coordinates all the branding colors in one garment.  Michelle Tillman, senior merchandiser of product development for Alternative Apparel, is a proponent of “simple layering,” like putting a bright color or all-over printed tank underneath a basic tee. “It gives just enough pop to enhance the outer garment,” she says, “yet at the same time does not interfere with covering up a screen print, embroidered logo, or whatever message you are promoting. The ‘less is more’ approach with layering is what works best for this promotional apparel.”