Trends - The Beret Rises

Berets Increasing In Popularity

BeretsFew accessories evoke classic European styling as strongly as the beret, which is currently enjoying a resurgence in fashion circles. At recent shows, the beret played a primary role in collections from Dolce and Gabbana, Givenchy and Chanel, among others, and has been prominently displayed in pop culture, particularly in films such as The Monuments Men and The Imitation Game, both set in war-torn Europe in the 1940s. Retailers, including Bebe, New Look and Ralph Lauren, currently offer a variety of styles at affordable price points.

“Berets are iconic, like cowboy hats,” says David Goldman, vice president of Philadelphia Rapid Transit (asi/77945). “We’ll see spikes in demand, but they’re never going to go away completely. They’re warm, soft, packable, inexpensive and fashionable.”

Philadelphia Rapid has offered high-end wool berets for over 30 years, and all of its items, which are bug-proof and anti-pill, are made at a factory in the Czech Republic that’s been in continuous operation for almost 200 years.

Rothco (asi/83708) fulfills demand for berets mostly for military applications. They’re versatile, unisex and ageless, says John Ottaviano, director of sales & marketing, and they look great with badges or patches. Outside of the military clients that they tend to be popular with, Rothco is also seeing renewed interest from other sectors. “We’re seeing strong demand in urban areas and college towns,” says Ottaviano, “as well as from mainstream online sellers.”

Rothco offers a variety of military styles, including the Inspection Ready (4949), made to military specifications; the Standard G.I. with Clutch (4907), with a stiff portion in the front that displays a badge or insignia; and the Wool Monty (45991), a clutchless civilian model named for British Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery, who wore a similar style.

Distributors can also look to Wolfmark (asi/98085), which offers two types: a fashion style and a military style with a cotton liner. “The fashion style in particular has always been a steady seller,” says President Bruce Everakes. “Both models are for special events, more so than everyday promotional needs. Most of the time, they’re for an artistic type promotion, a French-themed event or a military need.”

Other popular markets for promotional berets today include retail, hospitality, corporate gifting and uniforms, says Goldman, including those worn by marching bands. “People like them for an artsy or vintage European look,” he adds. “One of our clients bought them for a French cheese company. It all depends on the brand and corporate marketing direction. Some want cheap novelty ones which are certainly available, but ours are more formal and uniform-centered. They break through the everyday clutter. They’re a standout item, a point-of-difference piece that sends a real message for the brand.”