Seeing The Light Of Day
October 1, 2007

NOT TOO LONG ago, the Northwestern University women’s lacrosse team got invited to the White House. The resulting photo, which should have been a source of parental pride for years to come, soon became the stuff of media buzz legend. “You wore flip-flops to the White House?!,” proclaimed an e-mail sent to one of the four players who, while posing in the front row, was captured wearing the offending sandals. But the choice of footwear shouldn’t have surprised anyone—it’s merely a sign of the times. In general, the public’s attitude toward clothing styles has become more and more laissez-faire over the years. Suits, once a

Hey, Mr. Good Looking
October 1, 2007

HE SWAGGERS UP to the entrance with a smug look on his face, and with good reason. His finely tailored suit fits his chiseled body to a “T.” He notices the approving glances all around him. He knows he looks good. The jacket sleeves stop just short of a costly set of diamond-studded cuff links. His pants are impeccably creased and fall atop brilliantly shined shoes. With damsel on arm, money in pocket and skip in step, he crosses the threshold. The party has just begun. DRESS THE PART There is much truth in the popular saying, “Dress the way you want to be addressed.” A

Inside Outerwear
September 1, 2007

FOR A LONG time, outerwear has been somewhat on the outskirts of the promotional apparel landscape. Much more attention had been given to its business-ready, corporate casual counterparts. These days, however, promotional outerwear is charting its own course and marching to the beat of its own drum. With a rise in environmental awareness and a greater focus on fabrication, outerwear has redefined its role in promotional apparel, and thus distributor profits. “Fabrications are the big story in promotional outerwear,” noted Cathy Groves, vice president of marketing at Overland Park, Kansas-based Dri Duck Traders. “Bonded soft-shell fabrics, cotton canvas waterproof and fabrics with any type of

Color Commentary
September 1, 2007

CAROLE JACKSON MEANT well. Back in the now-comically wayward 1980s, at least fashionably speaking, her book, “Color Me Beautiful” was a must-read. Women everywhere flocked to “get their colors done”—the seasonal palette from which they should never, ever stray—and promptly followed the process by chucking each tube of lipstick and shoulder-padded blazer that didn’t make the cut. The downside, of course, was with every new color consultation (because who could stop at one?) came a new set of hues, so one can only imagine the complete state of confusion in which the decade’s would-be fashionistas found themselves. In today’s apparel sector, by comparison, color’s faddish

The Picture of Hard Work
August 1, 2007

WHEN IT COMES to office attire, individual style is something to be celebrated. Depending on the employer, stiletto pumps, ruffled blouses and form-fitting pencil skirts are acceptable corporate wear. However, there is something special—dare to say, desirable—about those businesses that maintain a traditional, uniformed dress code in a modern corporate culture that encourages individuality. Employees in these kinds of businesses tend to carry a certain decorum and professionalism about them—if not innate, perhaps deriving from their uniforms and what they represent. Think travel, hospitality, fine dining and automobile sales. It’s as if a uniform has the power to transform the most unlikely employees into

July 1, 2007

BRANDING’S OMNIPRESENCE IS a sign of modern times. Advertising itself has been around for many thousands of years. From Roman coins featuring the faces of emperors and generals to waterfalls and colonies named for the British monarchy, branding has played an influential role throughout history. Still, no era has rivaled the extent and scope of the power marketing has on current society. Today, all of the catchy slogans and flashy logos can sometimes run together in the mind of the consumer. But everyone recognizes sports team logos and sports brands. Sports have the ability to thrill a consumer like no other line of brands. Nobody

June 25, 2007

FOR A PRODUCT that “provides warmth without weight; is soft to the touch; will not shrink, ravel or run; is water-resistant; has moisture-wicking properties and is easy to work with,” according to the Web site, it is the opinion of this writer that fleece deserves a place in the hallowed exhibition halls of the Smithsonian, or at least a tributary wax figure in New York’s famed Madame Tussauds museum. Granted, it’s hard to think of anything having to do with warmth, much less hot wax, given the current temperatures outside. However, as sure as dawn turns into dusk, so do hot days turn into

June 1, 2007

WHAT MAKES A true fan? It seems to be more than simple enthusiasm. A dedicated fan will drive hundreds of miles and pay hundreds of dollars to see the source of his or her admiration. In a way, a dedicated fan is much like an adolescent in love. The fan is dedicated to the point of irrationality. No wrong can be perpetrated that will sway the fan’s feelings. No loss is great enough to make the fan lose hope; no foul is ever fairly called in the fan’s mind. It’s best not to inadvertently insult a fan. Luckily, most are easy to spot. Most fans

June 1, 2007

ACCORDING TO STATISTICS from the National Center for Education Statistics and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, there are 4,388 colleges and universities in the United States. For distributors looking to successfully sell imprinted apparel to this market, there is certainly no shortage of opportunities. The top schools and most recognized names probably have long-standing deals, but what about the 3,500 other schools of which most people have never heard? Each institution has proud students willing to promote their school and school teams on T-shirts, pants, sweatshirts and even underwear. “Students will spend money on anything that has [their school logo] on

What Women Want
May 1, 2007

WOMEN’S APPAREL IN the promotional products industry is a single creature with two contrasting personalities. The Dr. Jekyll of promotional apparel is the side of the industry focused on office workers and business-casual attire. After hours, Ms. Hyde likes to come out wearing tank-tops and scoop-neck T-shirts in flashy colors. Both sides of the promotional business are trailing behind the younger, crazy sister known as the retail market. Dean Vuong, vice president of Kavio, Commerce, Calif., said it is a “good thing” that promotional apparel is “one step behind” retail. “We know that if you can modify from [retail] to the promotional, then you will