Fashion-Forward Imprintable Apparel

Being “in fashion” can reflect many things from makeup to shoes to hair. When it comes to apparel, the garment’s color, cut and texture influence popularity. It might also have to do with the brand name.

Fashionability aside, is it even possible for the promotional apparel industry to offer what’s hot at retail seasonally? It depends on the supplier’s production capabilities. American Apparel (asi/35297), for example, has a global retail presence in addition to wholesale products. The manufacturer seamlessly picks up on trends because its lead time is reduced, having all operations from materials to merchandising in a tight radius. “Being vertically integrated and making everything in Downtown Los Angeles gives us a huge advantage to quickly bring to market the newest trends,” says Yvette Corona, spokesperson for American Apparel. “As a leader in fashionable basics, we always want to provide our customers with the most innovative and high-quality styles in the imprintable industry.”

Crop tops are currently in demand, and American Apparel is delivering. It has added six new crop styles within the year, making its total offering of crop tops sixteen. These include a cropped fleece sweatshirt, a cropped hoodie and a cropped raglan three-quarter sleeve shirt. They speak to the young adult and teen demographics positively.

However, some clients value longevity over the trendiest products of the moment. A reasonable solution to satisfy the need to be fashionable is through imprintable accessories. Recognizing the opportunity, S&S Activewear (asi/84358) has added hats, bags and caps from nine well-known brands in fashion-forward colors and prints. Among them are brands such as Puma, Stormtech and Oakley. These brands, with their retail presence, have an edge in introducing color trends or styles in short notice. Furthermore, the brand identity itself matters: 46% of readers surveyed in the 2015 Wearables Sales Forecast cite brand as important.

Brand-name or not, fashionable accessories are in demand. “Bags and hats have been very successful for us and for our customers. It’s an easy category to add on to a uniform or giveaway program,” says Margaret Crow, director of marketing at S&S Activewear. “Customers have asked for more knit cap styles, more camouflage patterns, more luggage and more fashion hats. Customers can get creative with all of our new offerings.”