Trends - The Quarter-Zip Gets Its Day

"It's Both Athletic And Casual"

Quarter-Zip PulloverThis outerwear staple has increased in popularity and is primed for a promotional breakout.

An end-buyer comes to you with a challenging apparel requirement: She wants to present a group of high-performing employees, comprised of men and women of varying ages, with a single logoed piece that’s professional, comfortable and versatile, in order to garner the most impressions for the brand.

An ideal solution, and one that’s gaining momentum in retail and in the promotional industry, is the quarter-zip pullover. Now with more variations than ever before, it offers extreme versatility for almost all demographics and markets.

“It’s both athletic and casual and can be worn throughout the day and during evening activities,” says Rachel Newman, director of sales and marketing for Hanes Branded Printwear (asi/59528). “It’s more polished than a traditional crewneck or hood, and offers the comfort of fleece with the style of a sweater. We’re also seeing Millennials, particularly those in the college market, embrace its comfort and style.”

Vantage Apparel (asi/93390) carries a variety of quarter-zips, including performance styles, sweaters and fleece, at a variety of price points, says Gina Barreca, director of marketing. “Performance pullovers are the hottest segment for us right now,” she adds. “Their versatility for sport or casual wear plus the ease of layering with them are driving momentum. We’ve actually seen them replace traditional crewneck windshirts in the golf market.”

J. America (asi/62977) has met current demand by adding the COSMIC Poly Fleece Quarter-Zip (8614) and the Shadow Mesh Quarter-Zip (8186) to its offerings. “Quarter-zips aren’t relegated to a specific market or gender, and there are no age limitations,” says Steve Zimmerman, national sales director. “They’ll continue to be a strong option, and we’ll see more ladies’ versions and lightweight performance fabrics.”

When addressing an end-buyer’s apparel needs, it’s important to make them aware of the possibilities that quarter-zips offer. “Clients may instinctively defer to a crew or hood, without realizing how many options are available,” Newman says. “The quarter-zip offers a style-driven silhouette, so it may lead to additional business instead of just replacing existing crew and hood orders. It’s also a perfect alternative to sportshirts and gives buyers something new to consider.”

Quarter-zips don’t just provide a stylish look, says Barreca. They’re also an ideal canvas for a variety of embellishment techniques, including etching, applique and patches, in unique locations. “Make sure to show logo options on a sample garment,” she adds. “The quarter-zip trend will continue with upscale fabrications, contrast details, color-blocking, mixed-media construction and lighter weights with stretch properties.”