The late Elizabeth Taylor once said, "I don't pretend to be an ordinary housewife." Probably no one ever accused the eight-times-married actress of being a normal housewife, but her statement relates to more than her inability to settle down. She was a career woman, a mother, an activist and a fashion icon. In her time, her many roles may have seemed outlandish, but now many women fill the same or similar roles. Women have careers, families, friends and fashion sense. The promotional products industry is not only becoming aware of these overachieving ladies, but also learning to market to a niche of women who demand excellence, comfort and aesthetics in their apparel, even in their promotional apparel.
2011 in particular marks a strong growth in feminine and fashion-forward apparel in the promotional products industry. Suppliers are tailoring their garments for a woman's bodily and fashionable needs. An array of garments geared for working women have embraced current trends and capitalized on classic styles. Part of the shift in women's wear comes directly from the retail world. "The retail market has a tremendous influence on what's being offered in our industry today," said Lea Behar Robinson, vice president of sales and marketing for Dallas-based Staton Corporate & Casual. Robinson suggested that using retail as inspiration gives the industry an edge in uncertain financial times. "Because of the economy, our industry had to present something new and creative to businesses with tight budgets," she said. "Let's face it, if they are going to spend the money, they want it to be worth it. Bringing retail options into an industry that has relied on basics gives the promotional market a new edge."
Jennifer Tsai, lead women's designer and vice president of operations for Tri-Mountain, Irwindale, Calif., explained that selling retail-like styles that fill the need for professional, stylish and versatile clothing for women is important. "Women comprise about half of the workforce, and when it comes to purchasing decisions more often than not [end-buyers] have a woman in charge of selecting what items will be used for uniforms or corporate apparel," she said.