Polo Shirt Questions? We’ve Got Answers Thanks to Pro Celebrity's Amber Becerril
Not many people realize the first historical reference to the polo T-shirt was in 1775. It was Casual Friday in Philadelphia, and Benjamin Franklin was having a tough time deciding what to wear to his meeting of the minds at the Postmaster General’s office. He knew his waistcoat and breeches were far too stuffy for the office’s TGIF vibes, so he fashioned himself a breathable, moisture-wicking polo from the city’s cotton supply. It was a sure-fire hit, and his coworkers began referring to him as the Polo Master General.
OK, that story is not true at all. But the polo shirt’s real history is almost as neat. Polo players in the late 19th century created the looks to keep their collars in place while riding on the field. Over 100 years later, the polo shirt is still as iconic as ever. Not only that, but it’s completely shifted the business casual landscape, as more and more employees are searching for transitional looks that make the jump from work to happy hour seamless.
To help you get in on the market for business casual apparel, we spoke to Amber Becerril, vice president of national sales and marketing for Pro-Celebrity, Arcadia, Calif. Here, she explains why business casual looks are big opportunities, and what’s trending in the category.
Promo Marketing: What types of clients are looking for polos and business casual promotional apparel?
Amber Becerril: Forget the stereotypes. I get my daily dose of polos regularly—as I high five my neighbor who’s running to his car on date night looking fresh in a branded polo, to a weekend at the lake as the recreational workers assist my launch in their company tie-dyed polo, or joining a raving crowd as our favorite performer takes the stage in their overly worn polo, cut off shorts and sleeveless crochet overlay. Polos have become a staple in everyday wear, from casual to sophisticated, in the office or on the field. Promotional apparel is a go-to—it’s a creative head turning way to get your brand/company/event recognized. I no longer look to outfit the team—I’ve got my eye on the entire crowd. The possibilities are endless, and polos are only the beginning.
PM: What’s new in polos and business casual?
AB: Polos have evolved from fabric to performance. With bold, boasting prints, polka dots, stripes or vibrant, contrasting color blocks, there is always something transitioning in the apparel industry. Zipper pulls on plackets and fishing shirt-inspired business wear, you name it—it’s happening.
PM: Has the athleisure trend affected the polo and business casual sector at all? How so?
AB: Athleisure wear has encouraged more sales. Why? It’s easy to say, “Don’t change after work, let’s go straight there.” Rather than someone wearing a freshly steamed poplin button down, I’d suggest throwing on your favorite polo early in the day and [heading out]. Everyone is looking for moisture-wicking product. Not just found in your favorite jogging pants anymore, it’s the product of comfort and function that consumers are demanding.
PM: What new features are end-users looking for in polos and business casual?
AB: I find consumers come to Pro-Celebrity for uniqueness. They are typically sourcing something “different.” I’ve had the amazing opportunity to help clients create their ideal look. Custom made is the new! I will hint sometimes it’s as simple as a color combo, and other times it’s as wild as a whole new fabric and design, all of which must have the features of moisture control and snag resistance. Quality—it’s crafted in everything we do.
PM: What new fabrications are trending in polos and business casual?
AB: Sun-protected fabrics are coming in strong. Snag resist, dry fast and lightweight fabrics are hot.
PM: What colors/hues/patterns are trending?
AB: Keep your eye on coral, khaki, pink and tie-dye just to name a few.
PM: What classic staples are always a good bet for polos and business casual wear?
AB: A go-to solid [color option] can’t be beat. You can layer it under your favorite blazer, jean jacket or printed hoodie. [You can also dress] it up with your colored pumps, bangles or trendy new Chucks.
PM: How can distributors ensure their client’s logo pops on polos and business casual wear?
AB: I believe the team working on the client’s logo should be able to assist in recommendations. Provide mock-ups on what the final product will look like in reference to their request. Most of the time, the client is looking to the distributor who’s looking to the supplier for guidance. Sometimes, clients need assistance designing their logo (that’s my favorite part of the day). There should always be someone on the team who has the artistic ability.
PM: What decoration techniques are popular for polos and business casual?
AB: Depending on the quality of the garment, you want to decorate using the best technique that will last just as long as the item itself. If you have a high-end/quality-made polo, you want to offer embroidery, which may cost more, but it will outlast the prints. Wash it, wear it, use it.
PM: What are your top sales tips for distributors looking to sell polos and business casual?
AB: Know the client, and don’t go in blind. Study the client well in advance. Prepare yourself for the competition. Perhaps the client already has a showroom full of polos, so why would yours benefit the buyer? Be passionate about what you’re selling. Bottom line, love what you do and be genuine. The trust will follow.
PM: What questions should distributors be asking their clients while brainstorming their polos and business casual promotions?
AB: Is this a program or one-time purchase? This will help the supplier keep stock accordingly, which will help make the buying much more efficient. [Ask,] now and later? Is your buyer using the item continuously or for a limited time event? This will help you narrow the colors options from trending to a casual staple.
PM: Are more clients looking to shift from conventional employee uniforms to more relaxed business casual looks? What types of apparel items are they ordering?
AB: Yes! This shift has led to a wide-open door for Pro-Celebrity’s fishing shirts. It’s a button-up, classic-inspired look.