From Trash to Treasure
December 30, 2008

THEY’RE COMPLETE RUBBISH. Well, that’s the rumor, anyway. Yet, for the latest in alternative fabrics, the distinction is not necessarily a bad thing. The items formerly known as garbage—cork, plastic bottles, seaweed, the list goes on—are having a bit of an identity crisis, and the fashion world is primed to reap the benefits. “Not everything that every clothing company wants is necessarily [a] natural fabric,” said Summer Rayne Oakes, an independent sustainability strategist with an emphasis in eco-fashion and the spokesperson for Planet Green, the Discovery Network’s new enviro-centric channel. In particular, she noted, performance-based companies such as Nike and Patagonia look

Shades of Meaning
December 30, 2008

WHAT’S MEXICAN FOOD got to do with it? Or, for that matter, Japanese animation or Apple computers? Turns out, a lot. Together, they’re three indispensable ingredients for a total nerd-fest. But, taken on their own merits, the seemingly incomparable trio comprises just a few tools of the color analyst’s trade. “I think a lot of people think forecasters sit in an ivory tower and dream up these things and hoist them on the public,” said Leatrice Eiseman, author of Color: Messages & Meanings and director of the Pantone Color Institute, the Carlstadt, New Jersey-based color research and information center. In fact, the “it”

Aesop and the Kitchen
December 1, 2008

WHEN TRYING TO break new ground with kitchen and household promotions, distributors may be well-served to recall the classic children’s fable about the country mouse and the city mouse. To briefly summarize, the story features two mice each unable to tolerate the other’s habitat. The city mouse cannot bear the simplicity of the country mouse’s diet, and the country mouse is horrified by the constant dangers of the city. So, to apply the lessons of the fable, it’s important to consider end-users’ comfort zones and give them products they’ll actually like. Choose garden tools for the country mouse, a martini set for

Dollars and (Fashion) Sense
October 28, 2008

ECONOMY SHMECONOMY. NOT to be glib, but that headline has sold one too many papers these days. Yes, things are not necessarily prospering, however, what the general public should be talking about is how to respond to these given circumstances. Facing the unenviable challenge of helping end-buyers find value in items that can all-too-easily be considered “extraneous,” now more than ever, suppliers and distributors must continuously prove the worth of their wares. Showing how each garment can be used in a practical wardrobe application attaches a tangible benefit to every dollar spent, an essential formula for continuing to drive business through financially uncertain

A Comforting Thought
October 28, 2008

MOST PEOPLE PROBABLY had a favorite stuffed animal or security blanket as kids—something soft and cuddly they clutched while sleeping, or maybe even dragged everywhere like Linus from Peanuts. Growing up causes the childhood bears and blankets to be abandoned, but the emotional hook that made them so important never really leaves. Instead, those feelings mature to include the related longings for luxury and relaxation that accompany adulthood. Given the mental focus paid to such desires, an item that could become an omnipresent piece of comfort in someone’s life would certainly be of great value as a promotional product. Even though, too, there

A Coat for All Seasons
September 1, 2008

What does Sir Thomas More have to do with coats? Nothing, actually. But, to get literary for a second, “A Man for All Seasons” was the title of a play about him, written in 1954 by Robert Bolt, and naturally, brought to film in 1966. Neither one of these have anything to do with coats, though, either. The phraseology surrounding him, however? Well, that’s another story. Should coats somehow become personified, the idiom so closely associated with More could very easily apply. Why? Because, simply, they allow companies to advertise year-round with their employees as spokespeople, affirmed Alisa Buckner, merchandise and marketing director at

September 1, 2008

For the thousands of customers whose businesses take them into some of the most extreme working conditions, the right gear is essential. Besides the traditional selections of jackets and coats, promotional workwear is evolving to include useful accessories that keep end-users out of harm’s way. SAFETY FIRST The buzzword in promotional workwear these days is “safety,” according to Kevin Xiao, vice president at Ontario, California-based Atteff International. To that end, Xiao said, while traditional jackets and overalls continue to permeate the workwear category, a variety of safety accessories are emerging and gaining popularity. “Traditionally, rugged workwear was mostly limited to work clothes,” he

July 1, 2008

WHAT CAN ANYONE say about sweatshirts that hasn’t already been beaten to death? They’re warm, casual and have pretty much maintained status quo since their inception, right? Well, maybe. The developments might not be earth- shattering, but they’ve happened—helping to make the sweatshirt not only an item of utility, but a garment that’s fashionably viable. Here are four new ways to position the sweatshirt as a solid addition to any apparel program. 1) Vintage styling transcends all apparel categories. The concept of “vintage” is very nearly as popular as the ever-salable green phenomenon. Rather unsurprisingly, these little style details are now being seen

Put On Your Inking Cap
July 1, 2008

THE OLD ADAGE, “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should,” definitely applies to choosing inks and new special effects for garment imprinting. With literally hundreds of choices and thousands of effects, it can be tempting for distributors to offer end-users a promotion with the latest bit of adornment, simply because they can. However, jumping to use the latest or most novel embellishing method may not lead to the perfect match for a promotion. That is the advice of 20-plus year industry expert Tom Vann, president and CEO of Target Graphics. “Doing special effects for the sake of doing special effects

Follow the Leaders
June 1, 2008

GEORGE W. BUSH. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Franklin D. Roosevelt. What do all these men have in common, aside from the obvious? Need another clue? These are not the only famous faces to have this shared pastime on their resume. To name but a few, Katie Couric, Madonna and Meryl Streep also have their roots in similar soil. Giving up already? These well-known folks, all at the apex of their respective industries, got their start as the original No. 1 fans—cheerleaders. The connection is no coincidence. Regardless of whether it’s yelling out cheers, dominating the box office, topping the music charts or even