February '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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"People are looking for a very soft hand- feel with the beanie," Liu adds. "In addition to the traditional acrylic or cotton knits, we are selling thinner and lighter materials, like jersey or polyester more frequently." Thanks to the popularity of knits, many headwear manufacturers say their lines are nearly equally divided between unstruc- tured and structured styles. But in a sign of what may be coming down the pike, "we're seeing a lot more people starting to shift over to structured caps," says Nik Mirich, president of Headwear USA. The reasons for the renewed interest in structure may not be only a matter of per- sonal preference, Liu says. Decorators pre- fer structured caps because they are easier to embroider and print, she says, and sales professionals like them because they stand up and look nicer during a product presen- tation. The best-selling structured caps are six- panel designs, particularly fitted and adjust- able baseball caps. One of the most recent trends in ballcaps is the flat-bill style, which in the last couple of years has transitioned from the sporting realm to all retail and promotional caps. While rounded flat bills remain most popular, square versions are gaining traction. "The younger crowd trend toward the flat bills," Schroedel says. "In the 40-plus mar- ket, you don't see the flat bill doing quite as strong, but that's not to say you won't see someone who's 60 rocking a flat bill." The downside of a six-panel cap is the seam that runs down the front, making it ill-suited for printing, sublimation, and bling, although it is well-suited to em- broidery. Decorators looking for structure without a front seam often prefer five-panel caps. "It's a throwback style that's been in the retail marketplace for a while and is now coming into the promotional realm as well," Mirich says. The most popular five-panel style among consumers is the classic mesh-back trucker 54 || P R I N T W E A R F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6 While camouflage may seem like a re- gional trend, it is a top seller across the US. (Image courtesy Sports- man Cap & Bag) HEADWEAR TRENDS

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