Tip(s) of the Cap
Fashion is fickle. Styles come and go. Leg warmers and hot pink get replaced by ripped jeans and flannel, only to come back again decades later. (Seriously, have you seen what kids are wearing these days? Every teenager looks like an extra in a John Hughes movie—big sweaters, skinny jeans and terrible, terrible hair.)
But hats? They're forever.
The baseball cap has transcended the sport to become a fashion fixture in its own right. The beanie, a long-time staple of the skateboard and alternative music scenes, has rocketed to the fore as those subcultures have gone mainstream. The Fedora? Indiana Jones wore one—what more do you need?
This kind of staying power should be reason enough for your clients to buy promotional hats. And if it's not? Don't worry. Here are 10 more tips for selling caps and headwear.
1. Brighten Things Up
Basic colors will always be en vogue, but brights are growing steadily in demand. "Colors that pop are trending," said Ritchie Belyea, project manager for Ash City USA, Lenexa, Kan. "For 2014, bright colors like spicy orange, sungold, blue peak and classic red will be very popular."
2. Get Technical
There's more to headwear features than snap-back or buckle-closure, cotton or polyester. Buyers want technical features. Belyea listed stretch fits, lightweight recycled fabrics and weathered or washed finishes as major selling points for caps.
3. Follow Pop Culture
"Customers want what they see on TV, in the movies or at retail," said Dave Porter, vice president of sales for Sportsman Cap & Bag, Shawnee, Kan. He suggested finding suppliers that offer a variety of headwear brands, giving customers their pick of the most up-to-date styles and materials.
4. Stand Out With Camouflage
No doubt helped on by popular TV shows such as "Duck Dynasty," camouflage remains a top option in multiple markets. "Licensed camouflage continues to be a big hit for both the outdoorsman and the everyday person," noted Danny Spier, president of Houston-based Kati Sportcap & Bag.
5. Know Your Decoration
"Most domestic decoration is done using embroidery, print, appliqué or a combination of methods," Porter explained. He also pointed to decoration options that utilize the entire cap, such as metal grommets, hang tags, sandwich visors and sublimation. "The most desirable decoration method is whatever blends the [client's] logo with the style," he added.
6. Go Retro
The retro look is big right now, with everyone from pro sports teams to fashion designers looking to past trends for inspiration. That throwback approach has carried over into the headwear market. "Retro-style logos suit casual caps," Belyea said.
7. When in Doubt, Embroider it Out
"Embroidery continues to be the most common decoration method," Spier noted. "It's quick, easy and affordable. Most suppliers offer embroidery services, or you can use your favorite contract shop."
8. Sell and Repeat
From a promotional standpoint, most apparel is at least somewhat seasonal. Jackets, for example—they're nice items with boatloads of perceived value, but giving them away in June will weaken their promotional potential. Headwear, on the other hand, is season-proof. "Caps and knits sell throughout the year, allowing multiple selling seasons," Porter explained.
"Products that allow for multiple sales or selling seasons should be important to distributors," he added. "Take a fresh look at headwear with emphasis on retail selling seasons that highlight opportunities."
9. Aim for the Add-on
Because they're available at a wide range of price points, hats and caps work nicely as add-ons clients can bundle with other promotional items. "If a project allows for additional budget, a cap can often upgrade the value of a program from an item to a coordinating package—say, a piece of apparel plus a matching hat," Belyea said.
10. Find the Right Supplier
Sure, it's not headwear-specific sales advice, but it's important all the same: A reliable supplier can be the difference between a big sale and no sale at all. "The biggest key to success is finding a cap supplier willing to work with jobs both big and small," Spier advised. "Find a company where you can speak with the same person every time. This way, the supplier will get to know you and your customer's needs."