Winning characteristics of the best promotional apparel for kids

Many children have one special go-to piece of clothing that they wear constantly, even waiting by the dryer for it to be ready to wear again. If you’re lucky, that t-shirt or sweatshirt has your client’s branded message on it. Over several months or even years, the cost per impression of that message can decline dramatically to virtually nothing.

So how can you possibly predict what could be a child’s favorite thing to wear? First, says, Erica Norton, marketing manager for Charles River Apparel (UPIC: CRA), it has to be comfortable. “From a consumer standpoint, functionality is key. Children’s apparel should be constructed to move the way children move.”

Second, you need to be able to remove the grime of childhood play easily. “A mom or dad should be able to pop apparel into the washer rather than having to dry clean,” Norton adds.

She predicts that bold and bright colors will continue to reign supreme for children looking to show off their fun personalities. And she says that matching parent/child looks are ever-popular. “Many of our top styles, including the Space Dye Performance Pullover and the New Englander® rain jacket have a mini-me version for children looking to dress just like mom or dad,” Norton says.

When ordering apparel for children, Norton emphasizes, “Distributors should always check to ensure that pieces adhere to strict safety rules, including, but not limited to, fire-retardant laws and lead-free laws. Children’s apparel pieces should also be free of all drawstrings as they are a choking hazard.”

See the sidebar below for more information about product safety considerations in children’s apparel.

Togs For Tots To Teens


The Sport-Tek® Youth Sport-Wick® color block hooded pullover combines color print accents with Sport-Wick moisture-wicking technology. In addition to a cordless hood, taped neck, self-fabric cuffs and hem and a front pouch pocket, it features a sublimated digital CamoHex pattern on the inner sleeves, side panels and hood lining for extra style. Made of eight-ounce, 100-percent polyester, the hoodie can be machine washed cold, tumble dried low and decorated as directed for polyester performance fabrics. It comes in five color combinations and in youth sizes XS-XL.

Transfer Express


The Youth Glitter French Terry Hoodie is constructed of eight-ounce, 55-percent cotton, 25-percent Lurex, 20-percent polyester French terry fabric. Perfect for cheer, dance, team, spirit, resort and casual wear, the hoodie has glitter thread that is knit and cover stitched throughout the fabric for extra bling. This unique fashion hoodie is available in four colors: black, Maui blue, wildberry and oxford, and in youth sizes S-L.

America (Wholesale Blanks Division) UPIC: Blanks



Balance™ tees are revolutionary and designed to provide long-lasting, effective and convenient personal insect protection. Insect Shield is a proprietary formulation resulting in effective, odorless insect protection that lasts the expected lifetime of the product. Made from 70-percent cotton/30-percent polyester, these tees feature moisture management, UPF 30+ sun protection and are snag- and pill-resistant. Choose from seven colors and sizes YXS-YL.

OMNi Apparel Inc. UPIC: zorrel



Made from 50/50 cotton and polyester, this CPSIA-compliant, 5.6-ounce pre-shrunk Dri-Power Active Youth T-Shirt features advanced moisture management performance to help kids stay drier while they play. A tear-away label, shoulder-to-shoulder taping, and two-needle hemmed sleeves and bottom, make this shirt durable enough for rough and tumble play.

Jerzees UPIC: CROS0002



The screen-printed 100-percent cotton colored t-shirt (heather grey is 90-percent cotton/10-percent polyester) is a high-quality choice for kids of all ages and is available in 17 colors. It is CPSIA compliant.

ADG Promotional Products UPIC: ADGPROMO


With a relaxed fit for all-day comfort, the Hooded Pom Pom Jersey is crafted from 6.6-ounce, 100-percent cotton jersey. Featuring a heather gray top and sleeves, and a solid color bottom with matching athletic stripes, this loose-fitting shirt provides excellent contrast in a standout look for kids. It is available in 14 different colors.

Boxercraft UPIC: BOXER



Available in 12 colors, this youth training short offers permanent moisture wicking to keep dry and comfortable, as well as a BodyFreshé treatment to inhibit the growth of odor causing bacteria. This short has a seven-inch inseam with a full athletic cut, as well as a wider covered elastic waistband with continuous draw cord for additional comfort.

Expert Brand UPIC: Exper698



Perfect for youth sports teams and spirit wear, this 7.8-ounce 50/50 cotton/polyester blend Hanes® Youth EcoSmart® Pant is made with up to five-percent recycled polyester from plastic bottles. It comes in sizes XS-XL and is available in five colors. Youth pullover hood, full-zip hood and crew styles are also available.

Hanes/Champion UPIC: HBIINC



The Original CVC ¾ raglan is a great look for boys and girls. Made from 60-percent combed ring spun cotton and 40-percent polyester, this shirt is available in eight contrasting color combinations and sizes XS-XL with a tear-away label.

Next Level Apparel UPIC: NextL178


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What’s cuter than promotional basics such as baby sleep gowns, wearable baby blankets and baby and toddler dresses? Hospitals, day cares and pediatricians’ offices are some possible markets.

Kids Blanks By Zoe UPIC: KidsB293

Decorating Children’s Apparel

Four ways to comply with children’s product standards

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) requires all children’s products to undergo third-party testing for certain requirements. Assuming the garment itself complies with all regulation, embroidery thread and any other decoration applied by industry decorators must also comply. Additionally, regulations require that tracking labels be applied by the decorator so any problem garments can be tracked to the source, date and production batch.

Here are some options for complying with children’s product standards when applying decoration to youth-size apparel:

  • Test the ink. Get a sample of the ink to be used and have a CPSC-accredited test lab perform the necessary tests.
  • Use ink makers’ tests. Use ink manufacturers who test their inks annually and send you test reports. You can rely on the component testing rule if you make sure you have an internal system to pair the ink test reports to the garments produced to prove compliance.
  • Use trusted decorators. Decorators who have strong compliance programs in place will ensure inks are tested and proper tracking labels are applied. Be sure to request CPCs and test reports to ensure compliance and make sure you have an internal system to manage the technical documents.
  • Perform third-party tests on the finished product. If you cannot prove that the components of a garment including the fabric, decoration and hard attachments are compliant, third-party tests to applicable standards should be performed on samples of the final product.

Source: PPAI

Take The Next Step

Learn more about important product safety considerations when selling children’s apparel by accessing one or more of the following webinars. These are free to PPAI members and nonmembers.

Focus On Tracking Labels

Speakers: Anne Stone, Director of Public Affairs, PPAI; Susan DeRagon, Senior Technical Consultant, UL

Webinar Overview:  Learn what your obligations are and what information needs to be included in order to comply with federal regulations. This webinar will discuss tracking label requirements, record keeping requirements, and how a distributor becomes a manufacturer.

Ink Testing Protocols

Speakers: Anne Stone, Director of Public Affairs, PPAI; Andrew Farhat, Vice President of Product Integrity, Kids II

Webinar Overview: To mitigate the costs associated with third-party testing the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) introduced the Component Part Testing Rule. Learn how this rule allows domestic manufacturers and importers to certify that the inks they are using to comply with CPSIA regulations.

Register at and click on Education and E-Learning.

Now See This!

Alisha Zavadil, marketing consultant for American Solutions for Business, created a kids’ coloring book and t-shirt series targeting the eye care industry. Zavadil initially planned to sell the t-shirts and books to retail stores, but after growing up in and working in the promotional product industry, it seemed natural to her to market it within this industry instead.

“Providers will be offered the option to purchase tees with or without their logo added to the back neckline. They can merchandise the tees paired with their customized book or use them for additional giveaways and exposure,” says Zavadil, who is the mother of a toddler. The book is set up with variable text to include the business's name in the beginning of the story and allows for a custom back page, which can include the recipients’ logo, contact info, etc. It's the perfect gift for young patients ages three and older who get their eyes examined, as a waiting room distraction or a gift with their new glasses. And matching adult styles are available to reinforce the popular “mommy and me” styles at retail. For more information, visit


Julie Richie is associate editor for PPB.