Take It Outside
2. Combine fabrics
When it comes to outerwear, keep this in mind: The more, the merrier. Whether you want to create an original design or pull the best performance features from multiple designs into one product, turn to your fabric. “Our three-layer bonded soft-shell combines a water-repellent finish (durable water repellent) on the outer layer with a breathable membrane in the middle and a thermal fleece under,” Bishop explained. “So you have [something] that will keep you warm, dry and comfortable—all in the same jacket.”
3. Size matters
This isn’t a product you’ll find firing out of a T-shirt cannon. Outerwear has to fit right, user to user. “Forecasting inventory has always been the biggest challenge,” Chen said. “Whereas most other promotional products are one-size-fits-all, outerwear suppliers need to stock every size from XS to 5XL, and talls, too.”
Bishop agreed with Chen, naming sizing as one of the most overlooked aspects of outerwear. Every supplier’s sizing fits differently, so it’s important to get feedback on how the jackets should fit and what they’ll be used for. “Perhaps they are trying to outfit truck drivers or perhaps they are trying to fit a European division; these fits will be significantly different,” Bishop noted.
4. You can’t go wrong with the classics
If you’re looking for something to stand the test of time, you don’t have to look far. From peacoats to leather bomber jackets, some trends never go out of fashion. “These styles are timeless and they can be tweaked to fit the current fashion trends,” Bishop explained.
Synthetic polyester fleece is another one—particularly when warmth is a priority. As Chen sees it, synthetic fleece (e.g., polar fleece, micro fleece, etc.) is cost-efficient, easy to care for, has a high warmth-to-weight ratio and is here to stay.