Take It Outside
5. Beware: Unisex is a tough sell
With the push for a retail-reminiscent product and careful monitoring of sizing, it should come as no surprise that unisex outerwear isn’t a big seller right now. “We are trying to get away from unisex styles, and lean more toward women’s cuts, fits, styles and colors,” Lipsett explained. “People want clothing to fit well and look good,” Chen summed up.
Bishop agreed: “Typically, women want to wear a jacket that has been designed specifically for a woman; a unisex jacket tends to be a men’s jacket that is more fitted to accommodate to a women’s silhouette.”
6. Decorate appropriately
The logo is a crucial aspect of any promotional product, but perhaps even more so for apparel and outerwear. The quality of a logo decoration can affect whether the end-user wears the product, so choose wisely. “The gold standard is embroidery,” Chen said, noting that it retains the best-perceived value for price and quality, and adds a 3-D aspect.
Both Bishop and Lipsett said that embroidery is the most popular, but noted there are other well-received options depending on the fabric. “Digital printing is becoming increasingly popular,” Lipsett said, due to its ability to print multiple colors and print on difficult fabrics, like rainwear. Bishop added that heat transfer would also work better on a waterproof breathable fabric than embroidery.
7. Don’t fall into the summer slump
During the hot summer months, people don’t tend to think about outerwear. But for suppliers, distributors and end-buyers, it should be when they think about it. Don’t fall behind—get outerwear programs underway early. “The transition from summer to fall oftentimes catches people off guard,” said Chen, noting outerwear’s difficulties in terms of preparation and delivery. “They take longer to make—especially when custom is involved—and the time between, say, September to December is a very short window for manufacturers.”