Warming up in Style
The summer style showdown is around the corner. This season, the jackets are the team to beat. They've been enjoying frigid winter conditions, and they won't go down (into plastic storage) without a fight. With summer on the horizon, however, tees and tanks have been hard at work conditioning (supposedly with Mark Wahlberg's trainer). Fans are sure they'll reclaim the title as the everyday essential, and with the right style knowledge, you can take advantage of their victory. There's no need to be a bandwagon fan because we've got expert insights into the promotional apparel that's sure to be hot this season. So cue the Rocky music and the ultimate comeback.
THE FRESH PRINTS
With the T-shirt expected to be the center of this summer's everyday wardrobe, new comfortable fabrications are essential. Kristin M. Bayer, merchandising manager/designer for LAT Sportswear, Ball Grand, Ga., explained what's new for fabric. "The hand-feel of the fabric for the tee is extremely important for 2013," she said. "It is all about soft, supple and buttery, and lightweight, but not sheer."
While the fabric might be delicate, the patterns are eye-catching. Kevin Miles, imprintables marketing manager for Alternative Apparel, Norcross, Ga., predicted prints, such as stars and stripes, houndstooth and colorful camouflage to be in demand this season. He advised distributors to encourage their clients to take advantage of these bold prints for a sales boost in promotional apparel. "Leveraging patterns and prints allow advertisers to tap into these current fashion trends for their promotional efforts," he said. "Because these fashion-oriented items get more repeat wear than the standard white imprinted tee, they translate into increased exposure and a better return for the customer."
THE READY-TO-WEAR REMIX
Along with new styles, Miles predicted a new spin on classic trends, noting Alternative Apparel's retake on burnout. "Inspired by our favorite well-worn vintage tees, we've now formulated a new process to produce a fabrication that represents the next evolution in burnout," he said. "It is a heavier weight that is hand-treated, perfectly washed and authentically weathered to replicate years of wear and tear. The result is a perfectly worn in look and feel that you will want to wear everyday."
Burnout isn't the only style getting a new take this summer. Tanner mentioned a revival of bright colors in heather tees. "For the past couple of years the heathered look has been about throwback color tri-blends. In 2013 the clean and bright vintage colors are exciting, especially for the resort, youth and ladies markets," she said. She offered vintage turquoise, vintage hot pink and vintage purple as examples.
Even black and white are getting makeovers this season. "Blacks, whites, grays and primary colors are perennial favorites for promotional wear," Miles elaborated. He explained how Alternative adds new flair to basic hues. "With black, for example, we offer a new coal color and a vintage black. For white, we have a new cream and eco-ivory color," he said. "For primary colors, we have some new colorways such as the eco-true red, eco-true blue, etc. that deliver super rich and saturated colors that are really beautiful."
Besides revitalized colors, athletic styles are returning as well. Tanner explained that the baseball and football throwback-style tee is back this summer. "The cuts for these tees are a little more fashion forward, less boxy, and in a great array of colors and super soft fabrics," she explained.
HERE'S LOOKIN' AT HUE
According to Miles, runway and retail trends are more influential now than a few years ago. "The overall imprintable product line was previous fairly static but we are now seeing fashion trends influence promotional wear in terms of colorways, fabrications and silhouettes," he elaborated. Bayer said it's a gradual process but color trends are the first to trickle down into the promotional industry. So what colors are predicted to be hot this summer? Bayer had the hot list. "Tees are coming in a huge range of colors, but the two major trends are brights and vintage heathered tees," she said.
Maggie Magellan, marketing coordinator for Los Angeles-based Bella+Canvas, agreed that brights such as neons are sure to be popular this season, especially when combined with the patterns mentioned above. "Bold bright colors such as neons, and new textures that play on color as well, such as Bella+Canvas' new marble fabrication ... have been hugely successful for us," she said.
And if your end-buyers want some alternatives, Miles offered other color options. "From a standpoint of trend, blacks and whites are hot colors for the season as are certain hues of pastel such as mauve, yucca rose and powder blue," he said. Miles also mentioned that color blocking will be a noteworthy trend for summer.
OUT OF THE SHADOWS
Before, tank tops used to be for layering and adding a splash of color to a summer ensemble. This year, tanks are emerging as stand-alone looks. "Tanks are trending in 2013 especially in bright colors throughout the surf, resort and youth markets," Tanner said. "The adult tank has seen a resurgence this year in the industry and is growing in request and popularity," she added. "The trend for ladies and juniors is either flowy or a fitted feminine silhouette with clean lines," she said.
Miles agreed that tanks are growing in popularity, and he offered some Alternative Apparel burnout tank options as examples, such as The Shaggy Tank for men and The Burnout Racer Tank for women. He also gave examples of Alternative's new printed tanks like The Meegs Printed Racer Tank, which comes in the camo, stars, hound plaid and railroad he mentioned above.
For Magellan, the tank is also a great way of expanding into other markets. "Alo is our fitness lifestyle brand, showcasing new performance tri-blends for 2013, perfect for sporting events and organizations as well as everyday gym use," she said.