Although Pantone named its 2024 Color of the Year, Peach Fuzz, in early December, the color experts released a whole palette based on New York Fashion Week trends earlier in the fall. These hues include some of the earthy colors that have been popular in the past couple of years, but perhaps most notably, the palette points to the middle of the rainbow, focusing on oranges and greens, plus a bright yellow and a handful of blues.
When it comes to promo, though, your client’s needs always come first, says Katie Grimes, an account executive with distributor Red Promotions and a 2023 PPAI Rising Star. “If my client’s branding is not going to work with [the trend], it doesn’t really matter,” she says. “At the end of the day, the promo product has to work with their branding guidelines.”
That said, Grimes thinks younger buyers are more open to embracing trends in their branded products – and the majority of the workforce is expected to be millennial or younger within the decade.
“You just don’t know who you’re selling to anymore,” she adds, “so if you do go in with, let’s call it the generic black quarter-zip, and somebody goes in with this on-trend green or gray piece, that might be perceived higher by somebody that’s younger or in a different demographic or who keeps up more on trends, so I would anticipate a shift in the coming years.”
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Heidi Koch, product development manager for Cap America, named the PPAI 100 No. 11 supplier in 2023, says it’s important for promo pros to keep an eye on retail to monitor color trends and keep their product offerings fresh and relevant.
Understanding your target audience is also crucial, she adds. “Different age groups, cultures and industries may have varying preferences when it comes to colors,” Koch says. “If your audience is fashion-forward or has a strong connection to design and aesthetics, staying updated on color trends is important.”
When it comes to the recent Pantone palette, Koch says her personal favorites are the bright peachy Desert Flower, the earthy green Watercress and deep red-orange Rooibos Tea. “They stay in line with the popular earth tones, which are on fire right now, with a unique spin in depth and color range,” she says, adding that promo pros should also keep an eye on updated neutrals and various shades of blues in 2024.
“It does depend on the industry that you’re in and what you’re looking for,” Koch adds. “Some people really want to play it safe because they know that those safe staple pieces will sell and they’re timeless. ... But I think a little shift in a neutral color really goes a long way, because it does give people the opportunity to give fresh product without a big risk.”
That said, she thinks bright colors and earth tones will remain popular, as the dark days of the pandemic left us craving experiences that make us feel good – including what we wear.
“Post pandemic, we are truly in unprecedented times, with more people embracing their own style and comfort level and, most importantly, their individuality,” Koch says. “Color truly plays a role in personal expression. I believe people will embrace the joy of bolder, brighter colors but stay true to the deep earth tones that connect them to nature.”
Here are a few options for promo apparel in trending colors for 2024.
This unisex Adult Crewneck Sweatshirt offers classic style in a relaxed fit with multiple color options that meet the moment. Made of 80/20 ring-spun cotton/polyester, each sweatshirt is garment-dyed with OEKO-TEX certified low-impact dyes for a lived-in, vintage look. Available in 19 colors (butter shown) and sizes S-3X.
Gildan Activewear / PPAI 250187, S13
Oranges can be hard to find in promo, but they figure prominently in the Pantone NYFW palette. This crew-neck Unisex Jersey Short Sleeve Tee comes in 86 colors (orange and sunset shown). Made of 100% Airlume combed and ring-spun cotton, it’s available in sizes XS-5X.
BELLA + CANVAS / PPAI 304892, S6
Give your clients’ merch a trendy look with a Women’s Festival Scoop Neck T-Shirt in one of 15 earthy colors, such as ash or red (both shown). Made of a soft poly/cotton blend, this tee features a stylish exaggerated drop tail hem, open scoop neckline and relaxed, draped fit. Sizes XS-2X.
Next Level Apparel / PPAI 272027, S3
Add a vintage touch on top with a Poly/Cotton Trucker Mesh Back Cap, available in 26 color combinations (Nantucket Red/charcoal shown) with flat or 3D embroidery (shown)
Cap America / PPAI 111597, S10
Update your outerwear with a Unisex Bomber Jacket in a fresh color. This classic silhouette, available in black or army green (shown) recycled polyester or black or brown vegan leather, features medium fill for year-round wear and comes in size XS-3X.
Threadfast Apparel / PPAI 622344, S6
The stylish and functional Topo Designs Daypack Classic, made of recycled nylon, comes in four colors (olive green shown) and features a spacious main compartment, side water bottle pockets and an external laptop sleeve that fits most 15-inch laptops.
Spector & Co. / PPAI 168328, S10
“Camos are super interesting right now,” says Koch. “We’re seeing a lot of gravitation away from just the functional camo, and country music singers and other niche industries are taking the Realtree or the Mossy Oak and … making it trendy.” This classic Premium Pullover Hoodie, made of a mid-weight poly/cotton blend, comes in 22 colors, including two camo options (sage camo shown), and unisex sizes XS-3X.
Lane Seven Apparel / PPAI 630869, S1
Blues and grays will always be in demand, and the super-soft OGIO Pixel Men’s Quarter-Zip and companion OGIO Pixel Ladies Full Zip offer modern takes on each hue. Both are available in Optic Blue (men’s shown) or Blacktop (ladies’ shown) 100% polyester pique with moisture wicking and a dyed-to-match zipper. Available in sizes XS-4X.
SanMar / PPAI 110788, S16