Luxury Apparel. Listen to the Podcast
When it comes to apparel programs, you've sold everything from stark white cotton smocks to plaid school blazers to steamin' hot cocktail waitress skirts. So, what else is there to look into? What about silks and cashmeres and beautiful, oh-so-soft-to-the-touch linens, or, simply put, the luxury apparel market?
Click here to listen to Elaine Wong, staff writer for Wearables, speak with Lee Strom, senior marketing manager for SanMar (asi/84863), about the selling opportunities available in this upscale niche, and most importantly, how you can tap into them. (By that, of course, we're not guaranteeing that you'll strike it rich, although it's certainly a possibility.)
[ TRENDS ]
Women Want Junior Styles
Everyone today is looking younger and staying active longer than ever before. The same can be said for fashion. People in their 40s and 50s, particularly women, aren't settling into a staid or frumpy middle age. They still want to retain their fashion sensibilities – and that's led to a trend in fashion-forward style for women in their 40s and 50s. Apparel supplier Kavio! (asi/64152) found this out the hard way when it lost, not one, but two large orders because it didn't offer junior-style shirts in women's sizes. The result was a new line of clothing for this year called Kavio! Women.
"When we lost a second sale, it made us evaluate the situation, and see what we needed to add to our line," says Dean Vuong, vice president of marketing. "We actually did a study across the board to see if other customers would be interested in a women's line, as well as researched what other distributors were carrying the larger sizes. We definitely saw a market where we could capitalize."
From Kavio! (asi/64152), this shirt (0348) is just one of
many women's sized, junior-type styles from the
supplier's new Kavio! Women line.
The new line, which launched in January of this year, embraces this new trend. "Most of our junior shirts target women in their 20s and 30s, but Kavio! Women will offer the trendy look for women 40 and up," Vuong says. "We're starting with about nine styles at the beginning of this year, and adding in about four or five new looks in the fall."
Selling Tip: Trendy junior-style shirts in women's sizes appeal to women no longer happy with boxy shirts, frumpy silhouettes and static fashion styling. Try introducing them to corporate collections, fundraising events and women's organizations.
From Essef Distributors Inc. (asi/52710), Wayfarer-style
sunglasses (W105) have been a fashionable must-have
for more than 50 years – and are still going strong.
Wayfarer-style sunglasses have been the epitome of cool for decades – and they're back in a big way. Everyone from movie stars to rockers has been spotted sporting this classic look. Ray Ban, the creator of the sunglasses back in 1952, has even made Wayfarers the centerpiece of its newest summer/spring collection. Putting them in your next corporate catalog is far from risky business.
Selling Tip: Wayfarer-style sunglasses are available from various industry suppliers and in various versions, such as the very '80s neon-accents style that's now popular with the indy crowd. But probably the best part about Wayfarers is that they appeal to all age groups and both genders.
Not Your Grandma's Quilted Styles
Quilted fabrics have been popular in women's vests and other outerwear for several years, but expect to see a lot more of the look this winter. Women's jackets, which come in waist- and knee-length versions, are the biggest adopter of quilted fabrics. And you'll see that the size of the quilted squares will range from small and tight to large, puffy styles available in heavy down coats. For more price-conscious client, try hoodies and accessories, such as purses and totes as a great (smaller) way to get in on the look.
Selling Tip: Men aren't entirely left out of the quilted trend. Several industry companies, such as Dickies Occupational Wear (asi/49675) and Boardroom Custom Clothing (asi/40705), are offering a men's quilted jacket as part of their 2008 lines.
From Cutter & Buck (asi/47965), the Women's Weekender Coat is just one of several styles of quilted jackets that are available for 2008.
[ NEWS BRIEFS ]
American Apparel (asi/35297) announced an employee stock sharing plan worth approximately $40 million. Employees who've been with company for more than one year will be granted roughly 250 shares of stock for every year they've been with the company.
Cap America (asi/43792) has added two new embroidery lines that will increase its capacity by 33%. The additions are due to a drastic sales increase in 2007.
SanMar (asi/84863) has released a catalog specializing in women's sizing issues. Women's 2008 Sizing Edition: Find the Fit that Flatters is a 12-page catalog that debuts three new women's fit designations: classic, contemporary and junior. The catalog's goal is to help clear up confusion surrounding women's sizes and fits.
Pro Towel Etc. (asi/79750) signed an agreement with Aloe Up Sun and Skin CareProducts (asi/34362) to make it an exclusive partner. Aloe Up products will featured as add-on options in Pro Towel's 2008 catalog.
[ ASK AN EXPERT ]
Question: I saw sweatshirts with a zippered front and rhinestones down both sides of zipper. Do you know of a source?
Answer: We know of several companies that offer garments than can be customized with rhinestone embellishments. We have a hunch that the sweatshirt you saw was custom designed. So try Street N Sport (asi/89895). This company offers several front-zip hoodies, like product "crop-hoodie" for example. And, it also offers rhinestone embellishing. Also try In Your Face Apparel (asi/62494).
Selling Tip: Adding a little bling to apparel is very popular at the moment. Having garments embellished with rhinestones may cost a bit more and take more time but the impression you'll make on your customer can make all the difference in the world.
Question: I've been looking for buckskin faux suede/shearling throws to embroider. I found one on Cabela's Web page, but it's too expensive. Any ideas?
Answer: Sure thing. Try Kenata Blanket Co. The product number 20201 is a faux leather throw that resembles animal skin. It's also got faux fur around the edge. Then, be sure to check out all the products this company offers.
Selling Tip: Animal pattern apparel is popular – as long as it's not the real thing. Everything from classic zebra and leopard prints to colorful variations in blue, pink and yellow appeal to buyers of all ages. But with such bold patterns, think accents and accessories.
[ WEARABLES TERMS ]
Fabrics - Terms you should know:
Batiste: A medium-weight, plain weave fabric, usually made of cotton or cotton blends. End uses include blouses and dresses.
Chambray: A plain-woven fabric that can be made from cotton, silk or manufactured fibers, but is commonly cotton. It incorporates a colored warp (often blue) and white filling yarns.
Jacquard Knit: A double-knit fabric in which a Jacquard-type of mechanism is used. This device individually controls needles or small group of needles, and allows very complex and highly patterned knits to be created, typically using two or more colors.
Poplin: A broad term used to describe several types of yarn. Usually a plain fabric with fine ribbing creating a slight ridge effect; often made of cotton.
[ APPAREL SOLUTIONS ]
Safety Green Jersey Knit from Big Top T's, Inc.