Scott Marino jokes that "we got a little lucky" with the neon craze. But in truth the owner of Neon Tees (asi/73583) put quite a bit of foresight into his company's specialty. "We saw a niche five years ago for the neon colors," says Marino, whose company is based in Cranford, NJ. "We anticipated it would be hot, and now it's out in full force."
So it was at ISS Atlantic City, which ran from March 8-10. Neon Tees was featuring new products like crop tanks, reversible mesh tanks and youth tanks in brights and neon colors. Headwear supplier Flexfit was showing off new flat visor snapback caps in a variety of neon hues, Pearsox Corporation featured athletic socks and winter toques in neons, and Next Level Apparel (asi/73867) is generating a lot of sales with neon colors of its fashion tees and crop sweatshirts. "Neons are really, really happening for us," says Mark Seymour, vice president of sales for Next Level.
Tank tops too are just beginning to take off. Kavio! showed new flowy tanks in slub and jersey fabrics at the ISS show, and Next Level debuted jersey tanks with spandex for women and new solid and ringer tanks for men. "I think it's a different market for tank tops," says Seymour. "The reason they weren't selling as much was [because] there wasn't a fashion tank out there, especially in men's. Now, skate and surf companies in the past year are coming out with their own tanks."
Performance apparel at the show, though, was clearly reaching critical mass. "We're seeing this huge market for performance," says Mary Ellen Nichols, director of marketing communications for Bodek and Rhodes (asi/40788). "All of the rec leagues are switching to performance uniforms." She notes how nearly 70% of polos and over 20% of T-shirts that Bodek offers are performance garments, a sharp turnaround from just a few years ago. And as a result, the selection of decoration options for athletic gear and performance apparel is expanding, as well.