Success in Promoting Women’s Apparel
2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the “Year of the Woman,” through which 53 candidates for seats in the United States House of Representatives and Senate strengthened females’ Congressional presence. While “Year of” designations tend to be one-time occurrences outside of Chinese New Year observations, one could say this present stretch of months deserves another “Year of the Woman” crown with respect to fashion.
Women’s wear considerations have begun to enjoy perennial en vogue status, and designing garments that complement interior resolve has become an obsession for numerous entities. No matter the sort of apparel, with plus-size sales being a particularly huge hit, having reached $20.4 billion last year, according to the NPD Group, Inc., opportunities to help the fairer sex to don stellar products and thankful smiles have never been greater. Promo Marketing sewed up conversations with Aja Norman, the trade show coordinator for Vantage Apparel, Avenel, N.J.; and Cynthia Baker, the public relations and promotions manager with Heritage Sportswear, Hebron, Ohio, for their take on how the promotional products industry can help distributors to stitch together profitable futures.
Though many hurdles remain, contemporary society has fought hard to establish rightful equality among men and women. While the workforce has received the primary analysis, the clothing field has many constituents eager to prove runways need not be the lone locations for women to find compelling collections and individual options. For more than 35 years, Vantage Apparel has enjoyed renown as a promoter of the names and logos of casinos, colleges, corporations, golf courses and resorts, and has realized the power of the women’s market for nearly two decades.
“At that time, the collection of several knit polos and one denim shirt was considered aggressive by industry standards,” Norman said of her employer’s 1998-issued introductory line of women’s apparel. “As new styles were designed, product details became more feminine, and women’s pieces were no longer mirror images of the men’s. These new styles still coordinated with the men’s but could also stand alone as distinctive women’s styles.”
“I joined the Heritage team in 2008, and stocking companion styles was always our goal,” Baker said of her entity’s emphasis on clothing her fellow females. “There were ladies’ styles in basics but not to the extent as we offer today. … With a diverse customer base of promotional products associates and decorators buying corporate apparel, team wear, uniforms and styles for promotions and events, the need to outfit the gal, as well as the guy, was always there.”
Always In Fashion
Vantage Apparel and Heritage Sportswear have enjoyed success in part because of their constant attention to trends and advances. Thanks to their allegiance to contemporary needs, the two have evolved into lasting contributors to the market, with this year’s quest to leave no woman minus ample options helping them to stand out among their peers. “Vantage feels that women’s wear needs to be versatile,” Norman said. “A women’s garment needs style, it needs to be on trend and, most importantly, it needs to be easy to wear so you can comfortably transition through daily activities.”
“There is a huge focus on individuality, and it’s driving apparel manufacturers to think past the traditional size scale,” Baker added, giving a nod to Nike’s Plus Size Collection as a means to help women of all shapes and sizes to exude confidence. “In summary, women want to be stylish, comfortable and able to perform well and are asking manufacturers for fit, fabric and function that works for them.”
On its website’s Overview section, the NPD Group, revered for 51 years as a market researcher, claims, “No other industry changes as rapidly as fashion. What’s hot today is blasé tomorrow. Innovation becomes retro. Seasons change. Hemlines rise and fall ... and so do your sales figures.”
Those points from the New York-headquartered company reinforce what Norman and Baker hold as a must for their apparel peers – Be students of your profession.
Because their employers have generated success within the women’s apparel realm, they feel well positioned to enjoy continued success within the field and hope the wave of momentum will include more individuals with similar enthusiasm for the future of women’s wear.
Stitches In Time
As for means to stand out within the promotional products industry, the two generously offered tips to tip the scale in distributors’ favor.
“Practice what you preach,” Norman offered. “If you are selling decorated apparel, make sure your clothing represents this. For instance, does your shirt have your company logo on it? Show the client you truly believe in what you are selling.”
Along with making that confident push, she suggested asking clients why they are attracted to certain styles, noting they have often sought something that does not truly fit their needs.
“If you know what they are trying to accomplish, you can deliver an optimal solution every time,” Norman posited. “Once you have a strong understanding of what they are trying to accomplish, don’t confuse or overwhelm the client by showing too many options. Finally, if possible, give the client a sample of the product so that they can test the product out for themselves. People love to talk about freebies. Since the use of social media is extremely popular, this can create huge sales solely based on word of mouth (or text) alone.”
“Sell an entire program, not just a style,” Baker stated. “For example, if you’re working with a client on a marathon, sell the run tee. Then, offer the visor, the rally towel and a sports bag. Pay attention to the packaging.”
Heritage Sportswear scored a hit, she said, when pairing a performance tee and a sports bottle at a major industry show, rolling the former into the latter for one of its “most popular samplings.” Numerous trade events find her crew sampling many tees, leading her to suggest that distributors show their samples decorated as well as blank.
“We think it’s important to show the piece decorated,” Baker said. “The customer can see what it looks like decorated, and it’s a great way to spark their decorating imagination. Pick a piece with companions. You triple your options when you pick a style that offers an adult, ladies’ and youth piece.”