Accessories - Women's Hats Branch Out

An Expanding Market Presents New Opportunities To Distributors

Women's HatsAn expanding market presents new opportunities to distributors.

Hats have been lining retail shelves consistently this year, especially stores catering to women's fashion. A plethora of styles from military caps to fedoras to wide-brimmed straw hats are presently being showcased in both retail and wholesale markets, thanks to the inspiration provided by 2012 runway designs from fashion gurus such as Ralph Lauren, Anna Sui and Armani.

"We're getting a lot of calls for the wide-brimmed, floppy hat style in particular," says David Goldman, vice president of Philadelphia Rapid Transit (asi/77945). Similar styles have made their way into most retail apparel establishments that cater to the youth market. "It offers a hip, bohemian look," says Goldman, adding that this very popular look is particularly hot with female consumers.

Erin Tricker, sales and operations executive at Broberry Mfg. Inc. (asi/42057), has also noticed an increase in hat sales. "Hats were a big draw for the summer season," she says. Among the best sellers are military caps, which appeal to both men and women and remain popular because they are attractive to a large demographic. "Implementing this hat style," Tricker says, "would allow clients to reach a larger audience."

Goldman has noticed a shift in how clients and end-users approach hats. With a marked improvement in product quality, he says, they are more likely to allow the hat itself to represent a brand and hold off on the addition of logos or embroidery altogether. "If someone is going to go out of their way to buy fashionable headwear," Goldman says, "they'll do best if they leave off the logo." Goldman points out that more and more clients are choosing to "save the decorating funds and invest instead in the quality of the good."

Goldman suggests marketing larger-brimmed hats to women-focused businesses and organizations as well as beach events and cruises. Tricker says hats in general are ideal to implement across all industries, regardless of whether they're being applied to a corporate uniform program or used to promote independently-owned businesses.