Don't Get Fleeced: Selling Promotional Fleece and Fall Apparel
While many people love summer for the reason that it allows them to wear light, freeing apparel such as T-shirts, tank tops and swimsuits, it’s no secret that the best season for style is fall. Seriously, what’s better than putting on a comfy fleece and a pair of sweatpants to go for a nice walk outside while the breeze is at its breeziest and the leaves are at their leafiest, falling through the air and covering the ground with all sorts of surprising, joy-inducing colors?
OK, so maybe that’s a personal opinion, but we’re willing to bet that anyone who has experienced fall in a way that comes close to the image above might very well agree with us, even if we have to bribe them with some of the best gear the 2018 promotional apparel season has to offer in order to do so. Don’t believe us? Read on to learn more about what the industry has available for promotional fleece and fall weather gear in 2018 and just see if we don’t change your mind.
Don’t Fall for It
Despite all of our enthusiasm regarding the autumnal time of year, it’s important to note that where fall apparel is involved, one must be aware of the season’s different manifestations around the country. In some places, fall is warm, while in others it can be cold. Seems obvious, right? Well, did you ever think of how that would apply to apparel styles? We’ll admit it: We didn’t.
Luckily, we got in touch with John Perez, marketing associate for Tri-Mountain, Irwindale, Calif., who was kind enough to lay out some of the tricks of the trade, so to speak, when it comes to selling fleece and fall weather gear for the promotional apparel industry.
“Fall can be a tricky season for weather throughout the country,” he explained. “That pretty much translates into layering. So what do you want in your apparel for the fall? The ability for it to go well in a layered look. Something lightweight that breathes, because you may be wearing it with other layers—and something that stores easily, because you may be taking it off at some point during the day. Also, that it comes in colors that will match with other layers.”
For fall apparel, layering is super important, not only because the season isn’t the same the whole country over, but also because fall weather tends to vacillate between warm and cold on a daily basis, in any given location. While it’s a lovely season, it’s definitely not the time of year where you can put on an outfit in the morning and expect to wear it all day without changing or taking a layer or two off—or adding them on.
Madison Johnston, a media marketing and customer service representative for Landway International Corp., Hayward, Calif., advised the same. “For fall and winter, end users have gravitated towards lightweight layers,” she said.
As is paramount to any apparel feature, we also asked our experts to weigh in on what colors are trending for this upcoming fall season. Of course, we were instantly curious as to whether it would be possible to make a career out of naming new colors. Alas, all we managed to get were their trend recommendations.
According to Perez, vibrant shades and neutrals alike will be popular this fall, with some emphasis placed on flower-inspired hues. “We like Pantone’s pick for Color of the Year,” he said. “It’s Ultra Violet. This color is one found in our Lilac Bloom brand logo. It’s a beautiful shade of purple. In addition to Ultra Violet, we also have some Lilac Bloom styles launching in the fall that are available in some very soft and delicate neutrals, these are colors like blush, rust, chartreuse and heather neutral.”
In a season full of colors, it’s practically a given that people will be looking to fit in with their surroundings by donning fleeces, sweaters and jackets that look vibrant and natural as well. However, just as the season itself can be a delicate balance between summer or winter at any given moment, for some wearers out there it will be important to stick to more neutral, even darker tones.
“[We use] rich neutral tones like our carbon Matrix soft-shell jacket,” Johnston explained. “The modern carbon color has
an eye-catching metallic texture that we offer for many best sellers like our puffer jackets.”
Decorate to Elevate
With so much to look forward to in fall apparel with great colors and lightweight designs, it could be easy to look past one of the most crucial elements in the promotional industry: decoration. We could talk all day about styles and the like, but at the end of the day, nothing, perhaps, is more important to promotional apparel than a well designed, well placed logo. They may be small, but they’re what make the brand impressions, and as we all know, brand impressions turn a nice fleece into profit somewhere down the line for a company whose employees (or fans) wear it.
According to Perez, knowing how to decorate well, and to be up-to-date with the latest in technologies and techniques, is crucial for promotional apparel suppliers operating in today’s industry.
“We are a decorating supplier,” he said. “I like to call us a one-stop decorating supplier shop. We have some great people in our decoration department. They have amazing ideas to help customers get decorated. They’re fast and efficient. And it’s just so much easier to place an order with us, have us decorate it, and then ship straight to the end-user. From a decorating and branding perspective, I have a main rule of thumb: keep it simple.
“It’s challenging to pull off a good looking, overly detailed logo,” he continued. “I’m not saying it’s impossible. But most of the time, a good logo is a simple logo. Keeping a logo simple also cuts down on your thread count, setup costs, and so on. A simple logo is an inexpensive logo to imprint.”
But what types of decoration will work best for distributors and end-users alike? There are, of course, the classics.
“Embroidery is a classic and elegant form of decoration,” Johnston offered. “The craftsmanship and detail in an embroidered design makes every logo look high-end.”
For Perez, however, since the techniques are specifically suited to different apparel styles and different tastes alike, it all depends on what the logo looks like and what type of fabric it’s going to be imprinted on.
“This depends on a couple things: the logo and the fabric,” he said. “If there’s a simple, one-color logo, we can laser etch it on the collar if it’s small enough, which is a really nice touch. It can also be laser-etched really large on the flank for more of a ‘wow’ factor. Honestly, we can laser pretty much anywhere. However, laser-etching will only work well on mid-tone colors (really light and really dark colors don’t provide enough contrast to the tonal etching) and poly-rich fabric, as it lightly melts the very top layer of the poly. Laser is also weightless (unlike embroidery) and very durable.
“We also like to embroider and heat transfer,” Perez continued. “These two methods are
really good options for a full-color logo with more detail. Our borderless heat transfers (BHT) are a personal favorite of mine. They are nearly weightless, and the level of detail is limitless. I like the effect of BHT because of the way it adheres to the garment, many people mistake it for screen printing. But it’s more durable and more vivid than screen printing. It’s really sharp, especially with the borderless edge.”
State of the Industry
As is true of all aspects of the promotional apparel industry, fleece and fall weather gear will always have to live up to the reputations of their retail counterparts. While some might look at this as an indictment on the industry, others, such as Perez, see it as a challenge—and therefore, an opportunity.
“Retail definitely directly influences the promotional apparel industry,” he conceded. “Our customers and end-users are very savvy on the retail trends. So that translates into our industry because end-users go to a retail brand store, see something they like, and want it in the promo space. They want the same look, the same features and so on. It’s understandable. At Tri-Mountain, we carry our own brands to rival the retail brands. I know many suppliers offer the retail brands, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but at the end of the day, most end-users are looking at their bottom line and everyone wants to save some money in the process.”
We’ll add onto this rallying cry of sorts with our own words of encouragement: Who doesn’t like to save money while looking stylish at the same time? That’s right. Nobody.