Of the $22 billion spent in 2021 on promotional products, apparel was the most popular product category, comprising more than 27% of the market.

T-shirts may be the foundation of promotional apparel, but accessories can play an important role in promoting a brand, and items like bags, bracelets and hats also present significant and growing promo opportunities. Pieces such as insignia pins or custom scarves can be added as a finishing touch to an outfit, and branded hats and tote bags provide added style as well as functionality. These accessories also may be used every day, unlike garments that must be washed.

Here, we explore what’s trending in five accessory categories with the help of suppliers who specialize in those product types.

Scarves: Wrap It Up

Oversized statement scarves became popular this spring, but as summer turned to fall, more women are opting for smaller kerchief-style scarves tied in the hair or around the neck.

Custom neckwear provider Buffalo Bay has recently created several scarves measuring 21 inches square in response to this demand, says Christine Isphording, a sales associate and customer service agent with the North Carolina-based supplier. School colors and symbols are always popular, she adds, but colorful patterns are also trending – swirly motifs in particular.

Custom Scarves are available from Buffalo Bay in silk and polyester and in a variety of weaves, sizes and styles. Decorate using digital print or wet dye method with custom designs developed by their in-house team of artists, like the college fight song music and lyrics shown here.
Buffalo Bay / PPAI 111547, S4 / www.buffalobay.com

Need a bigger canvas? This Sublimated Pashmina provides nearly 2,000 square inches to feature a brand’s colors, logo and more with edge-to-edge printing. The 100% polyester garment measures 27x70 inches.
Terry Town / PPAI 230911, S10 / www.terrytown.com

Bags: Carry It All In Style

The texture trend is strong for bags this year, with fuzzy, fringed and woven materials proving popular. While neutrals and nature-inspired hues are also favored, metallic and shiny styles that play on Y2K nostalgia remain in demand.

New-Jersey-based supplier LATICO Leathers specializes in luxury bags, and many of their products feature artisan leather work with hand-knotting, hand-weaving, macrame and lacing.

“Our assortment features luxe leather collections featuring a variety of textures and specialty treatments, such as lamb bubble, antique distressed, metallic distressed, printed hair-on leather and Italian foil prints,” says Lainie Schreiber, national sales director with LATICO. “The next big thing for us is all about fringe."

She points to sustainability, utility and versatility as characteristics consumers are increasingly looking for, and she expects that demand will increase for sling bags, medium organizer bags and sustainable bags in the coming months.

Try a little texture with the woven Neela Crossbody bag, handcrafted of 100% full-grain leather by artisans in South America and India. The fabric-lined interior features two open pockets and a zip pocket for easy organization, and it can be carried via the attached handles or the detachable strap with woven and knotted details. Available in gray (shown), black and cognac (brown).
LATICO Leathers / PPAI 133445, S3 / laticoleathers.com

In general, bigger is better when it comes to totes, whether it’s on the runway or the sidewalk. The versatile All Day Tote is available in small, medium and large, dozens of colors and a variety of materials and textures, including burlap, denim, neoprene (shown here in metallic rose gold), clear vinyl and velvet. The large size provides over 1,500 square inches of space inside and a 10x8.5-inch imprint area on the outside.
Numo / PPAI 112597, S9 / www.numomfg.com

Add an extra thoughtful touch with a Folding Purse Hanger featuring your full-color custom emblem. The hidden hook unfolds from a recessed track so the hanger can be stored compactly in the bag. When unfolded, it hangs the bag securely from any flat surface. Presentation box included.
EMT / PPAI 110810, S4 / www.emteasy.com

Eyewear: Sunglasses And More

Just as chunky heels and oversized totes and coats are in, big, bold eyewear is everywhere, with designers and fashionistas favoring funky, ’70s-inspired shapes. Statement sunglasses can be a conversation starter, too – a great way to build word-of-mouth into a promo pair.

Look for frame styles like cat-eye, butterfly and bug-eye and sunglasses in pastel or white frames that contrast with the dark lenses.

Trendy statement eyewear can turn heads, but the classics never go out of style. Aviators are having a moment, too, thanks to high-profile appearances on famous faces ranging from President Biden to Tom Cruise returning as the one and only Maverick.

Another eyewear option is decidedly more indoor-minded. We’re all spending more screen time than we’d like to admit, and many people are trying lenses with blue-blocking filters to reduce eye strain.

These Classic Ladies Sunglasses feature an oversized cream butterfly-style frame ready for imprint on the temple, plus contrasting dark brown lenses that provide 100% UV protection.
Fields Manufacturing / PPAI 111951, S8 / www.fieldsmfg.com

These AWS Blue Light Blocking Glasses With Pouch can help anyone look stylish on their next Zoom meeting while also protecting their eyes. The black-framed glasses come in a gray woven pouch, and both can be imprinted with standard silk-screen colors.
Hit Promotional Products / PPAI 113910, S13 / www.hitpromo.net

Jewelry: Tell Your Story With Sparkle

Jewelry is a huge – and hugely personal – category, encompassing everything from lapel pins to bracelets to belt buckles. A savvy product choice here can become a favorite and often-worn item for the recipient.

Elle magazine’s Kevin LeBlanc says bangle bracelets, especially stacked, are “back – in a major way.” Marie Claire style director Sara Holzman also mentions bangles, charms, chunky chains and flower motifs as jewelry trends to watch.

It’s important to tell a story with promo jewelry, says Monique Nigorizawa-Salvatier, director of sales and marketing with California-based supplier Pinnacle Designs. Stackable bracelets, on trend again this year, are a great way to do that. Use clever packaging and messaging to communicate your theme and tell your story, adds Nigorizawa-Salvatier.

“It doesn’t matter what product, but the backer card helps to push the story to an action, follow, like or buy,” she says.

When it comes to charms, including larger baubles like zipper pulls or even luggage tags, Nigorizawa-Salvatier says people love miniature replicas of food, objects, characters, landmarks – you name it.

“This can put you back in a memory or place by seeing that one product in replica form,” she says. “They can be key tags, ornaments, zipper pulls or a statue.”

This Adjustable Wire Bracelet With Two Charms includes one round, faceted jewel charm and one custom 1-inch charm to customize with the desired logo or message. “Whatever we’re seeing in the retail world, the promotional world can put their spin on,” says Nigorizawa-Salvatier. Available in a variety of metal finishes (shown in silverplate) and jewel colors (shown in red).
Pinnacle Designs / PPAI 112704, S6 / www.pinnacledesigns.com

Layering necklaces is also on-trend, and this Slogan Charm Necklace can be a fun way for a brand with a catchy tagline or well-known slogan. The custom cut-out charm comes on a matching 24-inch chain and is available in gold (shown), silver or copper finish.
CNIJ Inc. / PPAI 132744, S4 / www.cnij.com

Hats, Gloves And Shoes: Get Covered Head To Toe

“You can never have enough hats, gloves and shoes,” as fictional fashion editor Patsy Stone said on Absolutely Fabulous in the ’90s, a decade having a big style nostalgia moment. While her advice was meant as a punchline on the show, hats and gloves – and yes, even shoes! – definitely have a place in promo.

Speaking of the ’90s, bucket hats and knit hats beanies are back. Interestingly, high-fashion runways have seen the knit headwear trend expand to include balaclavas for both men and women. Of course, coastal grandmother straw hats and billed caps, whether baseball or dad-style, aren’t going anywhere, so those are great go-to styles for almost any promo program.

See next month’s issue for a deep dive into headwear trends, but here’s a classic dad cap to keep in mind:

A timeless accessory with tons of promo potential, the Garment Washed Dad Cap is an unstructured cap made of washed cotton twill. Decorate the front with an eye-catching patch and adjust to fit with the tuck strap with slide closure in back. Available in 34 colors (shown in Kelly green).
Outdoor Cap Co. Inc. / PPAI 213485, S10 / www.outdoorcap.com

When it comes to gloves, most promo products are all about functionality over fashion – and touch-screen compatibility is an absolute must.

Custom shoes are easier to come by than ever and growing in popularity, both for individuals and the in the promo space. Jump on this trend – literally – with customized sneakers, clogs, slippers and more.

Check out the Oasis Touch Screen Gloves. These lightweight and warm stretch fit gloves are touch-screen compatible and feature an antimicrobial treatment that inactivates pathogens and reduces contamination risk. Available in black (shown) or gray, sizes S-L.
Stormtech USA Inc. / PPAI 260245, S4 / www.stormtechperformance.com

SOCK101 offers about two dozen custom shoe options, from flip-flops to work boots. Their most popular style, the Scoots Shoe, is a riff on the classic canvas sneaker, made of sustainable/recycled material and ready for all-over imprint. Each pair comes poly-bagged with the option to upgrade to a custom box. Available in a wide range of sizes: “Basically we can do a kids’ 10 to a men’s 15,” says Anna Mosakowski, SOCK101 COO.
SOCK101 / PPAI 625402, S6 / www.sock101.com