Don’t Sweat It: Selling Athletic and Performance Apparel
Maybe just 10 years ago you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing your sweaty yoga pants from spin class to Sunday brunch, but that definitely is not the case anymore. People want comfort—and saving time not having to make a wardrobe change doesn’t hurt either. We spoke to Jamie Allen, marketing director for HTT Headwear, Murrieta, Calif.; and John Perez, marketing associate for Tri-Mountain, Irwindale, Calif., to learn how to make the most out of athletic and performance apparel promotions.
What’s the Deal with Athleisure?
A big trend of 2015 was athleisure clothing—clothes that seamlessly translate from the gym to the street. Perez explained what the appeal is, as the trend is starting to show up in the promotional products world.
“I think as people are using performance wear, they’re noticing how comfortable it is because of fabric blends and fabric advancements, like moisture-wicking, antimicrobial, etc., and they want to take those same styles with them throughout their day,” Perez said.
Allen added that when people are more health conscious, working out becomes a staple—and so do the clothes they wear while they do it.
“With health and fitness being such a huge part of our society, people not only want to live their lives healthier, but they want to dress the part as well,” she said. “Athletic and performance wear have come a long way. It is no longer worn for just the work out. It is a fashion statement. People live busy lives and want to look good, so providing athletic wear that allows them to go from the gym to the store has become a necessity.“
Perez doesn’t think the look is going anywhere anytime soon. “There’s a wide and growing range of customers,” he said. “College and high school teams, fans, alumni, coaches and staff. Then, once people have experienced the versatility of performance wear, they’re wanting to have it for purposes beyond the sports realm.”
Perez explained that there are two important things to keep in mind when selling athletic and performance apparel—style and pricing. “We continue to design performance wear that reflects design trends and styles found in retail, plus we’re focused on creating value-priced apparel, since there’s always demand for competitive pricing in the industry,” he said.
Allen added a few trends that she thinks your clients will want.
“Besides the always needed moisture-wicking fabrics and odor-reducing elements, the trends are comfort, flexibility [and] fashion,” she said. “I think they are popular because people wearing athletic wear daily want to feel good, while being fashionable at the same time.”
What to Look for in a Supplier
Make sure to do your research before buying athletic and performance apparel. “[Distributors] should always make sure the supplier, number one, has a history of performance-apparel manufacturing,” Allen said. “[Also] if a factory is WRAP-certified, and options and stylization are always important, too, so a distributer can offer a quality piece that is made specifically for [its] customer.”
Perez again brought up the importance of having options for styles and pricing when looking for a supplier to work with. For example, with athletic and performance apparel, your clients might have specific team colors in mind, and you would need to make sure the supplier could provide that. “Styles should be offered in multiple color options and traditional sports team colors,” Perez said. “Tall sizing is also necessary. Distributors also should make sure suppliers have styles at different price points so they have options when trying to make a sale to the end-user.”