As we head into winter, there's exciting news for distributors: Three retail brands – 180s, Rossignol and PlayBack – have entered the wearables marketplace. For buyers who want to send high-performing salespeople on ski incentive trips and give slope-loving valuable customers a unique logoed ski accessory, Wearables and Stitches Editor Nicole Rollender shows you some of the hottest ski accessories and jackets new to distributors this season. Click here to watch the video.
[ TRENDS ]
Your buyers will love the latest fleece fashions whether it�s for a sporting event or a corporate outing. There are also numerous styles available exclusively for women. This cozy layering essential is a winter success time and time again. �We typically find the first signs of change to cooler weather a motivation factor,� says Michael Topliss, vice president of sales and marketing at ID Wear (asi/62095).
From ID Wear (asi/62095), this polyester micro fiber anti-pill fleece jacket (Banff 5500) is a stylish choice for women.
From Crown Products (asi/47700), this drawstring backsack (SATINBK) is made from a luxurious poly-satin for a subtle shine.
Fleece jackets and pullovers come in almost every color. Whether your clients are looking for bright and bold for a promotional event or sophisticated black for a corporate outing, fleece can fill their need. Topliss says that due to the high level of female events, such as those for breast cancer awareness, “we’re seeing increased sales in soft shades of pink and blue.” ID Wear also sees a high interest in colors such as moss, taupe and “latte.” Some suppliers, such as Dri Duck Traders (asi/50835), offer fleece primarily in earth tones.
Color blocking, stitch detailing and other features can make your client’s choice more than just ordinary. Topliss says his company’s buyers have a high interest in tone-on-tone decoration using laser technology. “This provides an understated look and a great alternative to embroidery,” he says.
Along with a fleece pullover, you can recommend coordinating T-shirts and baseball caps. Top off the sporty look with a poly-satin drawstring bag from Crown Products (asi/47700).
The great thing about the athletic look for promotional distributors is that it�s versatile and comfortable. �Fleece products are much like the comfort food for the apparel market,� Topliss says. Make sure to offer your own comfy wares with some great fleece outwear.
From Crown Products (asi/47700), this drawstring backsack (SATINBK) is made from a luxurious poly-satin for a subtle shine.
Selling Tip: For corporate clients, show them more sophisticated colors such as black, navy or earth tones.
From Executive Apparel (asi/53418), this long-sleeve micro fiber jewel neck blouse (2408) is easily paired with other professional pieces.
Simple and easy is now synonymous with professional attire. Provide clients with the option of mixing and matching. “Buyers want choices in many cases, especially when they start a new program,” says Donald Singer, president of Executive Apparel (asi/53418).
Professional separates allow buyers to set their own style and image. “We’ve seen most of our mix-and-match demand in combinations of tailored separates, neckwear and women’s blouses,” Singer says. Offering different color and design options create endless combinations.
Selling separates as opposed to standard uniforms also allows more room for upgrading a buyer’s program.Singer recommends that you provide design ideas like the proper tie or shirt. “It makes sense when you are spending the dollars on a tailored program to have a ‘complete’ look in mind.”
According to Singer, fabric is buyers� number one priority. �They want a fabric that�s soft and drapes well, but they also want longevity and a good fabric provides this,� he says.
Executive Apparel sees a lot of purchases for women, which is on trend with the latest industry reports. �We have always been a woman's resource and they come to us for a good fit. We were into this long before our competitors and still believe we have the best female fitting pattern in the market,� Singer says. He also says clothing that fits the smaller and larger ends of the sizing scale have become more important, most notably for women.
Bring out your creative side and start putting together separates for your next client. �A navy blazer with grey pants is what I consider �mix and match,�� Singer says. Their employees will appreciate a little personality in their wardrobe.
Selling Tip: Recommend a blazer or cardigan in addition to a shirt or suggest allowing female employees to alternate between pants and skirts.
Listen to ASI Internet Radio [asicentral.com/radio]
A team of ASI editors have launched the first ever ASI Internet Radio show. For a half-hour each Tuesday, we debate the most important topics facing the industry, as well as offer an off-beat look at the market.
If you missed any of our shows, don�t worry. Recordings are available at asicentral.com/radio. And, don�t forget to join us every Tuesday morning 10:30 a.m. Eastern time when we broadcast our radio show live. We�ll be taking calls from the audience, so please call us at (215) 953-4979 to hear your voice on the air.
What’s Hot At Retail
Must-Have Item: Vests. Few styles really strike it rich with both men and women. There�s the newsboy hat, Converse sneakers and maybe skinny jeans (though those took a bit of time for the guys to really warm up to them). The truth is fashion trends, aside from color, rarely hit it big with both sexes. That�s why the embrace of the suit vest among both guys and girls is so impressive.
Two of the three Jonas Brothers are rocking vests at the recent MTV Video Music Awards.
Most people can agree the look started back in the ’70s. For guys, it was part of the fashion of the day, namely the three-piece suit. Women didn’t start wearing the style as a fashion element until Diane Keaton wore a vest while scoring an Oscar for her role in Annie Hall. The style immediately became her signature look and was imitated by women nationwide.
The look is back, worn by many of today’s hottest young stars. Everyone from The Jonas Brothers to Rihanna to Chris Brown has been spotted sporting the look around town, on TV and at award shows. The modern version of the vest includes fitted and loose silhouettes in a wide variety of colors and fabrics. The only thing consistent about the vest is its overwhelming popularity.
From The Runway
This sweater from Gucci�s 2009 summer menswear collection shows some real promise as a real-world fashion staple. Unlike a lot of the styles found on the runway, this one is basically a combination of two already popular styles: the varsity jacket and cardigan sweater. Considering both have become something of a hip style of late, this one is a sure thing.
The Verdict: Thumbs Up
Check Out the All-New ASICentral.com
You may have noticed some big changes in the ASICentral.com Web site over the past few months. The site has been redesigned to include enhanced features, such as new interactive tools, easier navigation, an upgraded search function and improved training manuals and customer service. One of the latest additions is a new blog from the ASICentral.com team. You can meet the whole team (including Wearables� publisher, Rich Fairfield) on the team's bio page.
The ASICentral.com team wants to hear from you, so visit the blog today and voice your opinion about the site, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Plan to check the blog regularly to find out about site upgrades, new awards and events, and everything that goes into making ASICentral.com the site that helps you manage your business.
Sell to: Great for any woman who likes to stay casual and comfortable at outdoor events or needs something to relax in around the house. Its versatility and array of fashion-forward colors makes it perfect for every occasion.
Style Tip: It features a single-ply hood with matching drawstring in 12 popular fashion colors.
[ NEWS BRIEFS ]
Fiberlok (asi/54075) and High Voltage Graphics (HVG) announced an exclusive new partnership with dekoGraphics GmbH. The Lextra License with HVG’s original partner won’t be renewed.
Proforma (asi/300900)welcomes nine new owners to its network, which includes Todd Smith, Terry Henson, Rob Ayers, Lynne and Jim Young, David Szidik, Cheryl and Michael Prillaman, Manuel Lomeli Jr., Joe Lahore and Elisha Rapson.
SELCO Custom Time Corp. (asi/86230) has been selected as key partner for Oregon Scientific as an authorized decorator and distribution channel to the promotional products industry.
Stahls ID Direct introduces CAD-PRINTZ Digital Transfers service. Customers can send in logos, designs or artwork and the company will create full color, photo-realistic custom transfers.
Tehama (asi/84569) added new items to its outerwear collection including the “Essential Colorblock Windshirt” for men and the “Coco Quilted Micro Fiber Vest” for women.
Vantage Apparel (asi/93390)has added digital-printing services to its West Coast embroidery facility located at 3111 South Shannon Dr., Santa Ana, CA 92704. Digital printing, also referred to as direct-to-garment printing, is an eco-friendly, water-based process that prints from a computer file directly onto a garment resulting in a soft, slightly washed-down design. Digital printing is a great option for low-quantity orders as well as multi-colored or photo-realistic designs. The company currently operates four contract embroidery facilities across the country in Santa Ana, CA; St. Louis, MI; Niles, IL, and Avenel, NJ. Santa Ana is the company’s first satellite facility to offer contract digital printing in addition to embroidery.
[ ASK AN EXPERT ]
Question: I�m looking for men�s full-zip sweatshirts in sizes up to 4XL Tall in athletic gray. Do you know it such an item is available?
Answer: Try Berne Apparel (asi/40260); (800) 843-7657; www.berneapparel.com. Look for product SZ101, a hooded sweatshirt with a full-length zipper that comes in athletic gray. Tall sizes are available. Sizes run up to a 6XL. Also try Contract Clothing Co. Inc. (asi/46470); (800) 383-1117. Product K185-HGY tall is a heavyweight hooded zip-front sweatshirt in heather gray that comes in tall sizes up to a 4XLT.
Selling Tip: Market full-zip sweatshirts before the winter months or consider giving them to employees for the holiday season. Also, tall sizes can be pitched for football or basketball players at sporting events.
Question: A client insists on L.L. Bean�s Double L polo shirt and Wrinkle Resistant Classic Oxford shirt. Do we have any industry comparable choices with exact styling and quality?
Answer: For the wrinkle-resistant classic oxford shirt, try Blue Generation (asi/40653); (888) 336-4687; 40653.asisupplier.com. This supplier offers a great deal of quality, stylish oxford shirts including product BG8214, a classic long-sleeve, easy-care oxford dress shirt with a button-down collar, a patch pocket, adjustable cuffs and pearl white buttons. This shirt is wrinkle resistant and has stain-release capabilities. Also try Broder Bros. Co. (asi/42090); (800) 521-0850; www.broderbros.com. Product 13V143 is a men�s long-sleeve, true wrinkle-free, cotton pinpoint oxford dress shirt with a button-down collar, a button-through sleeve placket and adjustable cuffs. For the polo, also look at Blue Generation, which has an easy-care, extra-durable, short-sleeve pique polo shirt. Product BG7203 is the same shirt style without a pocket. Treated with DuPont Teflon fabric protector for stain resistance, this shirt, like the L.L. Bean Double L polo has a curl-free, rib-knit collar, rib-knit cuffs and bone horn buttons. Thirteen different color options are available.
Selling Tip: Wrinkle-resistant technology has become very popular. Consider targeting an employee of the month with a shirt of quality, or use as a prize for a company raffle.
Question: I�m searching for two items, the first, a full-zip, no hood fleece in youth sizes (since our schools don�t allow hoods in school).
Answer: For the jacket, try Staton Corporate and Casual (asi/89380); (800) 950-6611; www.statononline.com. Product 4061 is a youth-sized fleece jacket made of 8.5 oz. anti-pill polyester fleece. This jacket features a full zipper, nylon reinforced pockets, elasticized cuffs and bottom, and a convertible collar. Also try Broder Bros. Co. (asi/42090); (800) 521-0850; www.broderbros.com. Product M990Y is a youth�s full-zip, 100% spun soft polyester fleece jacket with front-zip pockets and a front yoke. It comes in black, hunter, navy, red and true royal.
Selling Tip: Personalize a fleece with a certain school logo or name to attract a larger crowd and generate more sales. Or simply give out something warm to employees for a holiday gift that shows significance.
[ WEARABLES TERMS ]
Eco-Friendly Fabrics - With the growing demand for natural and renewable apparel to become more “green,” a number of alternative fabrics have become increasingly popular with consumers. Here are a few fabrics available for both the retail and promotional markets.
Bamboo: Bamboo pulp can be converted into fibers to create fabric that�s extra-soft and very durable. Its natural properties make it antimicrobial, UV resistant and breathable. Bamboo requires no pesticides to grow and is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. The bamboo used for fabric is commonly known as Moso and can reach a mature height of 75 feet in just 45 to 60 days.
Corn: Fabric is created when dextrose pulled from corn is fermented to produce lactic acid which is converted to fabric once the water is removed. Corn-based fabric has excellent moisture-wicking properties, UV resistance and low odor retention. It�s also stain-resistant, experiences minimal shrinkage and pilling, and is biodegradable and compostable.
Organic Cotton: The only difference between organic cotton and standard cotton is that organic cotton is grown without the use of pesticides or chemical additives. It�s also grown in soil that has been chemical-free for at least three years. Several levels of organic cotton exist and each presents low impact to the environment.
Soy: Made from the byproducts of soybean crops. This fabric has a soft, smooth hand, and contains natural antibacterial agents. It has the same moisture absorption properties as cotton, but with better moisture transmission for drier, more comfortable garments.