The Top Promo Apparel Trends We Saw at PPAI Expo 2019
Welcome to Vegas! All week long, Promo Marketing will be reporting live from the PPAI Expo 2019 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. If you're at the show, stop by booth 3237 and say hello. If not, keep an eye on our newsletter for product information, session wrap-ups and a whole lot more, brought to you right from the show floor. Up now: a roundup of the big promo apparel trends we spied on display at the show.
It’s hard to keep track of fashion developments. Sometimes it feels like right when you get the hang of what's trending, something else pops up. It’s an endless game of Wack-A-Mole.
But, while it's tough, it pays to stay on top of trends within the promotional products space. When you stay on the cutting edge, you’re providing exactly what end-users want. After all, no one really wants a shirt with an outdated design, uncomfortable construction or unflattering fit.
And, in the promo space, there’s no better place to see what's in store than the PPAI Expo. Here are some promotional apparel trends we noticed while checking out suppliers’ booths at the show. We talked to their reps about what the suppliers are doing, what end-users can expect and what trends are on the way in the promotional apparel game.
Companies like Adidas are making apparel and footwear from recycled and recyclable materials, most notably saving the oceans from trash by using ocean-bound plastic for apparel. Companies like HTT Apparel have been jumping on this trend, too.
“Everything that you see here is made from recycled bottles,” said Jamie Allen, marketing director from HTT Apparel, Murrieta, Calif.
Workwear Gets an Upgrade
There's a formula for workwear. Safety colors, ANSI certifications, performance materials—voila. It's a good formula, one that's helped make workwear a vital category for promotional apparel sales. But Hanesbrands Inc. thought it was time for an upgrade. At Expo, the supplier was showing off its new workwear, a pair of ANSI-certified pocket T-shirts—one long-sleeve and one short-sleeve—with a whole bunch of small improvements that make a big impact. Made from a super soft cotton/poly blend for retail-level comfort, the shirts are slightly longer in the sleeves and hem for a better fit while on the job. The pockets also have a built-in pencil compartment, and the six color choices include safety green and safety orange. The subtle upgrades come together to create an impressive shirt option that, finally, puts worker comfort on par with safety.
Name Brand Recognition
By offering name brand apparel, companies are giving end-users the brands they know from distributors they trust.
SanMar offered well-known brands like the North Face and Carhartt.
Edwards Garment created a booth that felt more like window shopping at a Joseph A. Bank or something of that nature than being at a promotional products showcase. The well-tailored suits, fashionable cuts and modern looks stood out with other more casual and more well-known offerings, like uniforms.
“We have new poly-wool stretch suiting that’s all machine washable. You don’t have to take it to the dry cleaner,” said James McCollough, vice president of sales for Edwards Garment. “Edwards has been more uniform, and this is more fashion. … We’re just trying to show more fashion, because we’ve kind of been the old, stodgy uniform people.”
Thanks to big companies like Untuckit, keeping a dress shirt untucked is no longer just for slobs or slackers. And, to keep end-users from looking like their shirts don’t fit when they go untucked, brands like Blue Generation are offering shirts that are cut specifically for going untucked and still pulling off that perfect fit. After all, fit is really what makes an article of clothing look its best.
Like untucked shirts, end-users want the options to dress something up or down with a single article of clothing. Or, in this case, footwear.
Sure, there is such a thing as owning too many shoes, but when it comes to socks, the options are endless!
“By far, the best one was the standard crew sock or dress sock. That one works in all environments from tech to [the] medical field, everybody wears those kinds of socks,” Matt Smith, vice president of Sock 101, said. “2019 prediction for that would be the specialty socks—the fuzzy socks—that we’ve come out with this year and the pocket socks. Those have been a really big hit at the show so far.”
For things like layering, you can’t beat basics like cotton T-shirts and hoodies. Delta Apparel offered a variety of styles that work well at the office, at home or at the gym, and in any type of weather.
Performance Apparel Stays Strong
Fitness and workout gear figures to remain one of the top categories in promotional apparel, especially as end-users continue embracing health and wellness. (Nike, for example, just launched a line of men's yoga apparel.) Over at its booth, Tri-Mountain had a whole bunch of new performance apparel aimed at taking the trend to new levels in the promotional space. Top among these was the supplier's Lane jacket, a double-knit quarter-zip pullover designed to challenge Under Armour in looks and performance.
"We're pretty excited about laser-etch patches that rely on a cool decorating technique that nobody else is doing on a three-day turn," Joey Knight, assistant division director of promotional products for Paramount Apparel International Inc., said in a rare moment of quiet for the team at booth No. 2836. "We see them as something that will definitely help us to stand out in 2019."
Those options figure to have welcome competition from the supplier's cargo cap, which Knight deemed perfect for contractors and HVAC workers.
"Put those together, as well as our imperial line of branded bulk apparel, and we feel well prepared to help people to look great this year."
Over at Booth No. 2713, the team representing Next Level Apparel has busied itself with catering to end-users' increasing calls for garments that promise stylish looks and durability. Senior account executive Jeremy Morillo is one such on-the-go representative, and he counted his crew very fortunate to have used an applicable item ahead of Expo 2019's commencement.
"We sponsored a pre-show event that included a keynote speaker, and we put 2,500 of our men's sueded T-shirts on the chairs," Morillo said of the instantaneous brand-building decision that included the message "This is my favorite T-shirt" on the apparel offerings. "Since then, we've received major interest in this shirt and others, so we've pretty pleased."