Menswear: Retail Trends To Keep In Mind, Plus 4 Trends In Promo Apparel Now
It seems like every article on menswear these days includes the phrase “Canadian tuxedo” – a cheeky term for head-to-toe denim. This is just one of the trends – neckties, matching sweat suits, plaid and zippers for fashion over function – that made a splash on runways during New York Fashion Week held Sept. 9-14.
While most of these trends aren’t likely to make their mark in promo apparel for a few months (if ever), chambray shirts and jean jackets are definitely something to keep on your radar, as this retail trend is bound to influence promo apparel customers before you know it.
We talked to two leading distributors, Matt Kaspari, president and CEO of Kaspo Inc., and Javier Melendez, national account representative for Walker-Clay and a 2022 PPAI Rising Star, about what they’re seeing in the market. Here are the four trends they’re noting when it comes to brandable apparel this fall:
1. Office Dress Codes Have Relaxed
Athleisure has become acceptable in professional settings, even at the office. The days of the suit and tie for anything but the most formal occasions seem to be over.
“I definitely see a lot more people wearing athleisurewear, especially in the corporate areas,” says Melendez. “The woven button-up shirts are not really as requested. It’s more the untucked look or the nice jeans and the sport coat.”
Outerwear is a major missed opportunity when it comes to professional promo apparel, he adds.
“We can get some great jackets to make people look good,” says Melendez. “It’s not just the hoodies and T-shirts.”
2. Sustainability Is In Demand
Both Melendez and Kaspari say more clients are asking about sustainability and eco-friendly products. Some of these conversations are moving beyond requesting recycled fibers to wanting more information about the full life cycle of a garment, adds Kaspari.
“I might have come into these companies before and sold some of the RPET and told the story of repurposing plastic bottles, but what I’m seeing in a lot more of the CSR, ESG stuff is full life,” he says. “It’s good we’re pulling plastic bottles out, but at the end of the day, what does it take to process that? Where is that getting done?”
- 3 Steps To Getting Started With A CSR Practice
- Compliance Experts Discuss Promo’s Sustainable Future
3. Name Brands Add Value
Another trend multiple distributors have reported is a demand for name-brand labels.
“Name brand is huge,” says Kaspari. “People want name brands, and that’s part of what we talk about with co-branding, because it raises the perceived value when you receive a gift. A jacket’s a jacket, but people know that you might have spent a little bit more.”
This approach is not without its pitfalls, however, as some established brands restrict or even prohibit decoration – a serious challenge in the promo market. It’s important to know which brands do and don’t allow decorative elements and what kinds.
And don’t underestimate the potential value of private-label garments, adds Kaspari, because many of those suppliers have listened carefully to customers’ needs and developed options tailored for the promo market.
4. Decoration Has Evolved
Potential restrictions aside, the traditional left chest embroidery or full-back screen print may not serve your clients’ needs as effectively these days. Kaspari recommends custom art that incorporates a brand in an interesting way, and Melendez says he’s seeing more requests for subtle branding.
“Don’t make it all about your logo,” says Melendez. “Make it about the piece.”
He suggests getting creative with accessories like zipper pulls and custom hoodie cords. Understated decoration, like tone-on-tone embroidery or screen printing, makes a garment appropriate for more settings than just the workplace – and keeps it reusable, which boosts its value by supporting sustainability goals.
Since the zipper is having a moment on high-fashion runways, promo garments can use that as a prominent piece of decoration and add a custom zipper pull featuring the company’s logo. It’s also a way to co-brand a name-brand garment without running afoul of their decorating rules.
“Everybody can do embroidery,” says Melendez, “but these are some things that can help differentiate you from everybody else. If we’re using a simple Gildan hoodie but you don’t want to wear a gold hoodie, I can put gold cords in my black hoodie and then boom, I’m supporting my team.”
He adds that with all the decoration techniques now available, if you can’t find it, you can make it: “You just need to have the time to do it. And the budget.”
The payoff can be well worth the added effort and time for planning and execution, adds Kaspari: “The more you can tie it into your marketing plan, the more bang for your buck.”
Kaspari says people are asking for brand names they see in stores, like Columbia. This Men’s Rugged Ridge II Sherpa Full-Zip Fleece Jacket, made of soft, warm 100% polyester sherpa includes the embroidered Columbia logo on the left chest. Available in five colors (shown in ancient fossil beige) and sizes S-2X.
alphabroder|PrimeLine / PPAI 156993, S16 / www.alphabroder.com
The Vansport Zen Pullover Shirt provides a balance between the comfort of athleisure and a more polished look for the office. Made of a polyester/spandex heather jersey blend with a sanded finish, it’s available in 10 colors (shown in royal blue) and sizes S-5X.
Vantage Apparel / PPAI 113235, S10 / www.vantageapparel.com
Provide your brand some extra pull by adding a custom zipper pull to these garments. Created from 1/8-inch thick clear acrylic, these 1 Square Inch Laser Etched Acrylic Zipper Pulls can be cut into a variety of shapes and can feature a laser etched logo imprint. Each pull comes assembled with a clamp and lanyard clip.
Morris Magnets / PPAI 182605, S7 / www.lasercutsline.com
The Men’s Architect Quarter Zip Fleece offers a more sustainable option made from recycled fabrics (32% recycled polyester), and the quilted diamond pattern adds trendy texture. Available in five color/gray combos (shown in deep maroon) and sizes S-4X.
Storm Creek / PPAI 438091, S6 / www.stormcreek.com
The series Yellowstone is influencing menswear in a big way, and this Yellowstone men’s jacket offers rugged western style and a generous cut for reaching, lifting and swinging with ease. The stretchy water-resistant canvas provides protection from moderate rain, and the corduroy collar and soft blanket lining add warmth. Available in charcoal gray or field khaki (shown) and sizes S-4X.
DRI DUCK Traders / PPAI 318801, S5 / www.driduck.com
Build on the western workwear look with the lightweight, 100% cotton Hudson Denim Shirt. The enzyme-washed denim gives this garment a worn-in feel and modern but classic look. Available in denim blue (shown) or gray and sizes S-5X and L-2X tall.
Vantage Apparel / PPAI 113235, S10 / www.vantageapparel.com