Here Comes the Sun
It may only be April, but the increasing temperatures promise that summer, the season of bikinis, barbecues and beaches, is only a few months away. The sun-tastic season welcomes outdoor activities like concerts, festivals and midnight rollerblading. All of these events need imprinted clothing to broadcast their brands and event attributes. To aid your summer selling, some of the most stylish suppliers in the business have provided advice on the best promotional apparel for summer.
WHAT'S NEW WITH HUE?
"Our fashion-inspired styles are great summer styles for us," said Jessica Clifford, marketing coordinator for Kavio!, Commerce, Calif. According to Clifford, the runway is the inspiration for most summer styles. "It's where the styles originate and trickle down from. By the time they reach the wholesale market they are definitely more subdued, but that is where a lot of the silhouettes, colors and general inspiration come from," she said.
A big benefit of following runway trends this year? The minimalist trend of white, white and more white. "White is actually really big in fashion right now," said Clifford. Margaret Crow, director of marketing for S&S Activewear, Bolingbrook, Ill., noted that white is not just a basic, but also is worn "as a statement color." If your client's event calls for a more flamboyant hue, Crow listed other colors for summer. "Popular colors this season are: yellow, in many tones, even to the extreme of safety yellow as a fashion statement; pink, more in berry shades than pale; blue, all shades but in particular navy blue … and orange, bright and especially in accessories. Round out these color trends with earth tones, particularly in the spice family," she said. Clifford offered some other colors choices: watermelon, island blue, grape and titanium. This range of colors allows distributors to please all end-buyers and end-users.
As for what's in demand in 2011, Clifford mentioned, "Styles in general have been moving to a more relaxed fit, cut longer and looser, and this is definitely reflected in summer apparel this year." Crow agreed. "Shirts and jackets are longer than they were two seasons ago. This trend started last year, and it's even more entrenched this summer," she said. "Another overall trend that is continuing this year is the use of softer, lighter fabrics that are comfortable and look great alone or layered."
Though the cuts might be relaxed and simple, the details are not. "Some top trends in retail this season are the biker look, stripes, long dresses and skirts, flared pants and lace. Translated to the promotional products industry, look for detailed fashion T-shirts with stripes and intricate printed designs, jackets with more zipper and button details and longer-length shirts overall," said Crow. "Detailed styles are big," Clifford agreed. She offered pockets, raw edges, distressing and contrasting fabrics as examples. "Exaggerated neck lines [like] deep V's, scoops, boat necks, off the shoulder and modified crew necks [are popular]. Sheer, ultra-lightweight fabrics, dolman sleeves, oversized and relaxed silhouettes, stripes and bright colors are other big trends this year," listed Clifford.
Another trend in summer apparel is lighter weight outerwear for those breezy beach nights. "Lightweight cover-ups are great outerwear products for the summer seasons," said Clifford. "Another great summer outerwear item is the lightweight zip hoodie. Year after year it continues to be a hugely successful summer item. Burnout zip hoodies, pullover lightweight jersey hoodies and even 1x1 rib hoodies are great summer outerwear styles," she noted. Crow added that lightweight full-zip hooded fleece jackets and denim jackets are good summer outerwear products.
BABES, BOYS AND BURNOUT
Like all fashion trends, imprinted or not, gender and age dictate style, cut and color of garments. "I think it's key to keep age in mind when marketing products, it helps you to better understand the end-user," said Clifford. "Age affects the demand because people of different age groups are ordering different styles," she explained. "With the vibrant colors, sheer fabrics and fashion silhouettes that are part of the summer styles, you tend to see the market demand come from the younger crowd. The older age groups tend to drive the demand for the more classic styles," she continued.
For juniors, Clifford noted scoop, boat and V-necks are popular. For women, sales of vintage-inspired styles like the burnout T-shirts remain strong. "In our women's line the burnout T-shirt, our burnout sublimation collection and the vintage silicon washed tank are popular items," said Clifford. Crow seconded the popularity of burnout, adding that modal, gauze and 50/50 cotton/viscose polyester jersey are other great materials. "These styles range from 3.7 to 4.2 oz., have a bit of stretch for comfort and fit, and are longer silhouettes," she elaborated. "A value-added benefit to some of these styles is that you can buy them with all-over sublimated prints … then add the company logo or message."
Women are not the only ones reviving vintage styles. Men prefer the distressed, worn-in look as well. "Our two new styles, the V-neck short sleeve and the distressed crew neck short sleeve, [are popular]. Both are silicon washed and made of 100 percent ring-spun combed cotton which gives them a super-soft hand," Clifford said. Crow stated that for men, performance and comfort are necessities. "Performance pieces in polos, long sleeve T-shirts and short sleeve T-shirts [are popular]. These are flattering garments that are in style to wear at the office and … the gym or in daily life," said Crow. "The performance characteristics keep the wearer cool and the shirts are easy to pack and care for."
Specific trends may change year to year, but certain styles last forever. The best evergreen garments are basics. "I think it's always going to be the basic T-shirt and the hoodie," Clifford said. "In this industry, the T-shirt is always the most popular style. The basic T-shirt is re-inspired year after year with new fabrics, necklines and silhouettes, but at the end of the day it's still a T-shirt," she said. Crow has seen summer outerwear remain popular. "The fleece hoodie has been a perennial favorite and its popularity is stronger than ever. Both in pullover and full-zip styles, you can find hoodies for every age group and every demographic," she said.