Keep current style trends top of mind when choosing headwear to promote your clients’ brands.


Industry experts say hats get an average of 3,136 impressions during their lifetimes, so making sure promotional hats, sunglasses and hair accessories are on-trend means that end users will want to wear them and showcase your client’s logo. Here’s the scoop on what’s trending in the headwear category.

“Both meshbacks and ‘Dad hats’ [unstructured curved-bill caps) are making a huge comeback in the promotional space,” says Emily Potter, content specialist for Outdoor Cap, Inc. (PPAI 213485). “Trendy designs including chambray and heathered fabrics as well as hot neon colors can turn a plain ball cap into a high-quality piece of marketing material.” 

Anessa Fritch, vice president of marketing for Cap America (PPAI 111597), says that camouflage shows no sign of waning in popularity in the headwear space. “Our new stock of U.S.-flag screen-printed meshback with camouflage is selling extremely well.” That brings up another trend: “We see a lot of support for USA-branded items,” Fritch says.

Making sure to choose a quality item is critical, Potter emphasizes. “For headwear, the decoration is secondary. If you don’t help your customers select a well-made, comfortable cap with a decent fit, then no one will want to wear it, no matter how many pieces are given away.”

But once a hat is chosen, decoration is what sets the product apart from others. Joey Knight, assistant division director for promotional products at Paramount Apparel (PPAI 133496), suggests distributors consider offering hats that can be decorated with a one-color print process with no underbase to their decoration options to give caps a more vintage feel—a process her company calls Hat Tattoo™.

“It’s a much more cost-effective decoration method than embroidery, and it’s also great for layering and getting that mixed media look, as you can use the Hat Tattoo process at any stage of decorating the cap. It can be done on any location of the cap, so visor tops and back straps are an option, too,” Knight says.

Fritch agrees that end users are increasingly interested in showcasing a different look for their brand other than what traditional screen print or embroidery can provide. “Cap America’s Elite Knits, for example, use technology to knit the logo directly into the product so there isn’t a second decoration application,” she says. “And our new SuperFlex™ decoration technique [available in late August] with standard and metallic finishes provides a molded appliqué that can reproduce fine details.”


Julie Richie is an Austin, Texas-based writer and a former associate editor of PPB magazine.


Your Clients Will Love These Cap-tivating Styles

The new water-repellent Seattle cap is constructed of the same three-layer soft shell fabric used in the company’s top-selling Stormbloc jackets. Unstructured and made from 94-percent polyester and six-percent Spandex, the cap provides exceptional comfort and breathability. The quick-dry sweatband helps the wearer stay cooler in hot weather. Colors available include black, olive, smoke and Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity® camouflage.
Nucom Burk’s Bay / PPAI 110826 /


The structured shape and patterned fabric of this meshback cap make it the perfect combination of on-trend styles. With a hook-and-loop tape closure and a slightly pre-curved visor, it has polyester/rayon plaid front panels with a pinstripe embellishment. This cap comes in grey with black mesh as well as black with black mesh.
Outdoor Cap, Inc. / PPAI 213485 /


Make a statement in this Trucker Snapback. With 35 colors to choose from, finding the perfect shade is easy. This 65 /35 cotton/poly blend cap with 100-percent mesh back is structured, mid-profile and has a six-panel construction. The pre-curved contrast stitch visor adds style, while the adjustable plastic snapback ensures the perfect fit.
Kati Sportcap & Bag / PPAI 113758 /



Gone Green
When Vancouver, Canada, distributor Fairware Promotional Products, Ltd. (PPAI 262992) was tasked with creating a cap for an environmental foundation, they chose a custom-designed hat made from Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)-certified organic cotton that was produced in a Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP)-certified factory, with tone-on-tone 3D embroidery. The foundation gave away the hats as an incentive to engage the employees of a local company to join the foundation. Employees received a stylish, sustainable and usable product that truly walked the talk.




Choose From These Great Options To Ward Off The Winter Chill


This warm, cozy eight‑inch fleece cap features high quality, anti-pilling microfleece, four form-fitting panels and a stylishly proportional wide bottom band.
Richardson Cap Company / PPAI 263149 /


Made-in-the-USA Elite Knits utilize revolutionary knitting technology that expands decoration options for both double-sided and single-sided designs. They offer expanded design areas that allow for bolder brand visibility and the ability to combine up to four colors along with multiple orientation capabilities for all new creative opportunities. Choose from beanies, caps, scarves and earbands.
Cap America, Inc. / PPAI 111597 /


Avoid getting tangled up trying to listen to your favorite music while staying warm during outdoor adventures with these Bluetooth Polar wireless earmuffs. They come in a black drawstring pouch for protection—and more branding opportunity.
Sweda Company, LLC / PPAI 113914 /



Cranium Collaboration
Charleston, South Carolina, distributor Karst (PPAI167797) jumped at the opportunity to collaborate with graphic designer Andrew Barton on his annual New Years cards last year. “As a graphic designer, [Barton] has an affinity for all that is thoughtful and well designed, and he’s on point with trends. He came to us knowing that [lapel] pins are hot,” says Michelle Harris, owner and head promo pro at Karst. Wanting to replicate the iconic Charleston Hat Man (first created in the late 1800s to advertise a Charleston, South Carolina, haberdashery, and created wearing 16 different hats in 12 different styles) to demonstrate his illustration talents, Barton created a new pin and Karst team members worked with Barton to develop a direct-mail piece illustrated by him which tells the story of this oddly placed painted man on Broad Street in Charleston. Recipients loved the pin and the direct mail piece. “Our local clients received a fun little piece of history that showcased our custom dimensional lapel pins, and Barton’s artistic eye and illustrator skills,” says Harris.




Hit The Mark With High-Impact Accessories


Oakley Fuel Cell sunglasses are a mix of art and technology. With clean, authentic style, originality and a smooth look, these sunglasses feature high-definition optics and a polished black frame.
Beacon Promotions, Inc. / PPAI 113702 /


Create a lasting promotion for your clients with these multipurpose and reusable bandannas. These 22-inch-square bandannas can be worn as a wristband, a head wrap or a neck warmer, used as a rally towel and more. Add a custom imprint and create something that’s ideal for a wide variety of promotional events and occasions. They are versatile, promotional and perfect for trade-show appearances, employee gifts and more.
Quinn Flags / PPAI 360359 /


These popular two-inch by eight-inch performance headbands are made from lightweight, moisture-wicking poly-spandex material and decorated with Fusion Sublimation DigiPrint. Available colors include white, black, fluorescent yellow-green, red and royal.
Suntex Industries / PPAI 113094 /


Five Hot Headwear Trends
These popular retail styles are featuring prominently in current fashion industry blogs and websites, as well as in the promotional industry. Help your clients create giveaways and gifts that delight their recipients by keeping these five headwear trends in mind.

1. American Inspiration
Patriotic-themed caps are in style year-round


Cap America's patriotic cap includes a flag screen print on the mesh and showcases its new SuperFlex molded applique


2. Mirrors
Mirrored sunglasses are back


NYX Eyewear's Osprey unisex aviator sunglasses feature on-trend light blue mirror lenses


3. Messaging
Beachgoers love embroidered sun hats with slogans


Sun ‘N’ Sand Accessories, Inc.’s beach hats with fun messages are great options for resorts, travel companies and beach-themed events.


4. Menswear
Millennial women love their dad hats


5. Mixed Media
Layered decoration techniques evoke a vintage feel


Paramount Apparel's Hat Tattoo decorating process gives this cap a trendy mixed-media look.