Take It from the Top
Selling apparel is completely different than selling hard goods. Yes, the general "sell solutions, not products" advice still applies, but there's so much more to consider when purveying apparel. What sizes do you need? What decoration works on polyester versus organic cotton? Should you do unisex or companion pieces? What is "burnout" and why is it so popular? To answer some of your questions about selling wearables, Promo Marketing reached out to some of the industry's leading apparel suppliers. Here's what they had to say.
ON SELLING OUTERWEAR
"When looking for promotional outerwear, distributors should pick a wearable that yields great and lasting imprinting results—a product that your end-user will not throw in their closet after wearing just one time. This may mean re-evaluating the line between what's the most cost-effective and what will bring your customer a greater return. Using trending styles and a higher quality product from a brand your end-user identifies with will deliver a garment that consumers will want to wear, in turn increasing exposure for your customer's promotional campaign."
- Christian Cochran, wholesale representative, American Apparel, Los Angeles
ON FABRIC CHOICE
"It is important to identify the right fabric for the right task.Technological advancements in fabrics offer features that will result in your customers' complete satisfaction."
- Eric Rubin, president, Blue Generation, Long Island City, N.Y.
ON CLIENT BUDGET CONCERNS
"Even when the customer says she or he is on a budget, always show all three 'good,' 'better' and 'best' polo samples. Most times you will sell the 'better' or 'best.' The feel and brand names can sway the game. Upsell your customer by reminding them that the staff they uniform should be identifiable from the front or back—recommend they decorate both sides."
- Mary Ellen Nichols, MAS, director of marketing communications, Bodek and Rhodes, Philadelphia
ON OUTFITTING MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN OF ALL SIZES
"Keya products are made from ring-spun cotton that provides a comfort level enjoyed not only by printers, but by end-users as well. Our 5.3 oz. adult crew neck T-shirt comes in 16 colors and is available in youth sizes XS to XL, adult S to 5XL and adult long-sleeve S to 3XL, making it great for programs that need to outfit all ages, sizes and genders."
- Greg Brown, senior vice president of sales and operations, Keya, High Point, N.C.
ON PROVIDING SAMPLES
"We encourage the distributor to let us produce a spec sample for their presentation at no charge. There is no better way to close a headwear sale than to lay a completed product on the client's desk. You have taken much of the decision-making out of the process and in most cases shortened the selling cycle considerably."
- Joey Rohrer, assistant division director, Paramount Apparel International, Bourbon, Mo.
ON ECO-FRIENDLY APPAREL
"Eco apparel is a great option for the right market. It's important to realize that these items are usually at a higher price point than your basic pieces. With that said, it is also important to understand what your customer is looking for in order to find what will meet their needs while staying within their pricing guidelines."
- Ashley Nielsen, marketing coordinator, S&S Activewear, Bolingbrook, Ill.
"Branded, decorated apparel increases the resell value. Today, heat printing allows you to decorate a variety of products including the latest performance wear, jackets, bags and more. Increasing in popularity are special-effect logos in glitter-flake, hologram, flock and reflective, which really make any logo stand out."
- Mary Blondell, promotional product manager, Stahls' ID Direct, St. Clair Shores, Mich.
ON WOMEN'S WEAR
"A well-designed women's garment will sell on its own. It's important to offer alternatives to, and not just copies of, men's styles."
- Gina Barreca, director of marketing, Vantage Apparel, Avenel, N.J.