ONCE UPON A time, in a fashion industry not-so-far away, wafer-thin models became the norm. “Heroin chic” inched its way into the cultural lexicon and Hollywood’s red carpet grew lousy with actresses the approximate width of a coat hanger.
Women knew they had waists. Curves, too. But clothes that accentuated—or even acknowledged—these shapes did not exist.
In an equally nonsensical dimension, promotional apparel cornered the market on the opposite end of the spectrum: the shapeless, one-size-fits-all garment. Despite the fact that “one size” fit no one particularly well, it became standard fare. And women’s curves were thwarted again.
Yet, in 2008, hope springs eternal.
Though the world of high fashion probably won’t budge on its sizing “ideals” anytime soon, the promotional apparel industry is starting to get the message. As the next step in the uphill battle to create imprinted wearables people will actually wear, suppliers have been adding new designs to their repertoires—and the female form is reaping the benefits.
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“For 94 percent of women, fit is the most important factor in choosing their clothing,” said Krista Newman-Huckabee, assistant marketing manager at Hanesbrands of Winston Salem, N.C. Though historically, promotional apparel suppliers had simply crafted companion pieces from menswear items, it’s clear the lack of design sensitivity has been affecting end-user satisfaction. “Gone are the days when women want to wear a man’s shirt in a smaller size,” Taraynn Lloyd, marketing director for Kalamazoo, Michigan-based Edwards Garment, contributed.
To address these needs, industry suppliers in growing numbers have been adding new collections, overhauling old ones and providing new options for existing styles.
Edwards Garment, for one, recently underwent a major redesign of its pants selection (see sidebar) to great success. By addressing both distributor and end-user needs for better-cut women’s garments, every party in the equation ends up a satisfied customer. “Distributors who had stopped promoting Edwards’ women’s pants are now offering them again. The end-user likes the way they fit and we are finding that our sales have increased,” Lloyd said.