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Trends - Vested Interest

The versatile vest is popular for corporate campaigns.

With the cold weather in full swing in many parts of the U.S., layering options could be in style for many promotional programs. One style that has proved consistently popular is the lightweight vest. Many are made of soft fleece or quilted polyester, fitted for warmth without the bulk, and chock-full of performance features. They’re ideal for evening football games and campfires, and early mornings on the golf course or out on the lake.

Lightweight soft-shell and fleece vests are among the most popular styles this season, says Elson Yeung, director of private label design and merchandising at Ash City/alphabroder (asi/34063).

“Fleece vests in particular are very versatile and an easy addition to any outfit,” he explains. “Nothing feels cozier than fleece when the weather gets a little chillier, or even when the air conditioning is set too high in the office. A vest layer adds warmth and comfort to any look. It offers a layer of protection while maintaining a level of comfort with its breathability.”

Quilted vests are also in high demand for the fall, says Jackie Whitfield, vice president of merchandising at Trimark Sportswear Group (asi/92122). One of this supplier’s best-selling items is the Whistler Light Down Vest (TM19898) with an 80% down and 20% feather fill, and a water-repellent and down-proof shell.

“We’re finding that the most popular quilted vests are lightweight, very soft and can be packed easily for versatility during travel,” Whitfield says. “Designers prefer a high down content and lightweight fabrics with a high stitch count for the shell, ones that are down-proof and provide a superior wind- and water-resistant finish.” High-count fabric is also an optimal canvas for embroidery and heat transfers, she adds.

Vests have consistently been a popular choice for corporate applications and incentive programs, most notably because cost is often relatively low. “They’re typically sold at reasonable price points,” adds Yeung. “From working in an office to traveling, they’re strongly versatile and come in an array of colors to match company branding.”

While their functionality and wide appeal make them a good option for almost any industry, “they’ve been in particularly high demand for product launches with outdoor themes, personnel managing outdoor venues and off-site company events for which wearers prefer a versatile garment,” says Whitfield.

As an added bonus, their affordability “leaves more budget for decorating options,” says Yeung. “Fleece is best served by embroidery, because it can handle fine text and designs, while the compression of the lofty fibers gives the decoration a 3-D feel. Other options include laser etching and mixed media, a leading-edge trend that results in clean styling.”