Printwear

February '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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56 || P R I N T W E A R F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6 cap. Thanks to a seamless foam front, these designs are also a decorator's dream because they provide an open canvas for nearly any embellishing technique. "Trucker caps remain our No. 1 best seller," Liu says. That being said, newer products hope to find the middle ground between five- and six-panel styles. For example, a new seamless six-panel cap with laser- cut eyelets on the market allows for virtually any decorative technique. "It's the next generation of headwear," Schroedl says. "The fact that it's seamless allows the decorator to put an image on it and not worry about that top stitching." LOCAL PREFERENCES It may be surprising to hear, but manufacturers say there are very few regional differences in headwear trends. Camouflage sells incredibly well in the south, where hunting is commonplace, but the print is as popular in California. "Camouflage has become a lifestyle," Porter says. "It's no longer a regional product. We were initially reluctant to show camo in Los Angeles, but we've been surprised by the sales in that area." Likewise, mesh-back trucker caps fit the beachy mentality of the West Coast and also provide desired breathability to Southerners. And while knit beanies may seem best suited to the colder northern states, they sell as well in the south. "It's shocking to me, but I sell as many in Texas as I do in North Dakota," Mosley says. Decorated apparel businesses should take note of one particular regional dif- ference. Corporate and retail buyers often prefer headwear in the colors of their local college and major-league sports teams. "What distributors need to understand is you don't need to have licenses for those teams to show the team colors," Porter says. "Tie into local teams with the colors of the products, not the logos and you don't need the license." SMART BUSINESS For businesses that aren't solely focused on headwear, it may seem difficult to keep up with the latest trends. Identifying what customers want, however, can be as simple as looking around you. "Be aware when you stop at a convenience store, go shopping, or to go a sporting event," Porter says. "I think we work too hard to try to identify what's really hot in headwear, when it's right in front of us wherever we go." Investing a little energy into identifying headwear trends is well worth the ef- fort, manufacturers say, because the products offer plenty of benefits to those in the decorated apparel business. Caps are "one size fits most," which is a smart option for group sales. Plus, a lower price point makes the products appealing during tough economic times. And they're not a seasonal product, so they offer year-round sales opportunities. Best of all, Mirich says, caps offer great margins. "Within the promotional products industry, it's tote bags and headwear that sit at the top of the pile for giving you the most bang for your buck," Mirich says. PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS Welcome to the PROD- UCT HIGHLIGHTS sec- tion where each month we offer you resources to enrich and expand your business with great services and products from our advertisers. HEADWEAR TRENDS

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