What Women Want
Style is an equally important facet of a promotional garment. Not all retail styles translate well. “In the promotional market, you have to have room to put a logo on [a garment],” said Thigpen. Styles with very low scoop- or V-necks and off-the-shoulder cuts may not succeed. “You have to have a really good area to embroider or screen print, so your fashion is limited a little bit because of that,” he added.
Distributors must understand their clients and know which styles are best fitted to them. Promotions for youthful audiences and a fashion-conscious demographic will probably rely on apparel for juniors. Vuong said the juniors market is very tied to recent fashion trends, forcing suppliers and distributors to remain “very sensitive to catching the wave.” Right now, Vuong said, vintage colors are very strong.
One underrepresented market segment is missy-sized garments. These clothes, larger than junior sizes but smaller than plus sizes, are more representative of the average American woman. Thigpen said Jensen Apparel has shifted its focus to meet the demand for these garments made for larger women. “Over and over again we kept hearing [the question], ‘When is a company going to come out with a comprehensive missy line,’” said Thigpen. “So that’s what we’ve done.” The fashion industry relies on models to showcase and sell items, but the average female model is about 5' 8" and weighs 108 to 125 pounds. Even by the most conservative estimate, these women thinly escape being labeled “underweight.” Meanwhile, in the general populous, “Currently, 64.5 percent of U.S. adults, age 20 years and older, are overweight and 30.5 percent are obese.”* This enormous rift has left many American women without fashionable apparel fitted for their bodies. “Missy, that’s the market that has the money,” said Thigpen. Taking a jocular tone, he continued, “Juniors are begging for their parents’ MasterCards and American Express cards to go buy [apparel] at retail, whereas missies, they’re the ones that want it and can’t find it.”