While not technically an industry product category, many promotional items deserve a spot right smack in the middle of the fashion accessories zone. If you’re not already tracking retail accessories trends to ensure you offer clients the hippest, most covetable items you can, get up to speed with this information, courtesy of Accessories Magazine and search firm The NPD Group, Inc., and their research collaboration—the Accessories Census 2011.
Bags and purses. Structured bags overtook slouchy ones in 2011 as ladylike, polished styles took hold. Sleek, top-handled satchels were most popular because they work for day and evening, but minibags and cross-body styles also did well. While not considered trendy, totes were still favored by working women who have a lot to, well, tote.
Small leather goods. The country—nay, the world—is obsessed with small tech items, and each one needs a nice case for protection. Traditionally considered gift items, 72 percent of 2011 small leather goods sales were by self purchasers. Conclusion: As promotional items these are not a place to skimp, as most consumers see quality small leather goods as affordable luxuries.
Belts. Classic waist cinchers were big with teens and others under age 34. Standout styles included stretchies, skinnies and skins—especially python. The most popular belt color? Cobalt.
Sunglasses. Sales shined in 2011 with dollar sales up 11 percent over the prior year. Stand-out vintage styles such as cat-eye, round and geometric shapes were most popular. Translucent plastics and tortoise shell stood out as top sellers, and mirrored and colored lenses also did well.
Watches. The arm-candy watch trend that dominated 2010 has dissolved for the most part, leaving high-end and “boyfriend” styles as the main purchases in this market. Conclusion: The only time consumers choose to strap on watches is when they are of high quality and classic style.
Scarves. Infinity and cowl-neck styles were key sellers in the scarf market, but elongated triangle shapes are anticipated to take the top spot this fall. Animal prints, especially leopard, snake and python, continued to be perennial favorites, and shimmery fabrics did well late in the year around holiday time.
Hats. “The Kate Effect,” named after Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, coupled with sun-protection concerns popularized hats among women ages 13-34. Sales of traditional styles such as fedoras and cloches grew and are expected to continue. Fair Isle prints are forecasted to be popular this winter, too.
Tama Underwood is an associate editor for PPB.
Brightly hued, kitschy sunnies are definitely having a moment in 2012. These Checkered Sunglasses come in six vibrant colors—with lenses to match!—and have a two-inch-long imprint area. WOWLine UPIC: MANY0002 800-655-6650 www.wowline.com
Hunters can pay homage to their prey with the Wildlife Knit Cap. Subtle outlines of either a mallard or a buck are woven into the acrylic cap, which comes in black-gray and tobacco-black color combinations. Sportsman Cap Network UPIC: SPORTSMN 800-221-4744 www.sportsmancaps.com
If economic-induced pressure to dress up for work lingers at your client’s office, suggest a custom silk or polyester Tie to keep up appearances and unify the workforce. KTP Design Company UPIC: SYMMETRY 888-245-1979 www.symmetryline.com
The Buffee is nothing short of a miracle. It works as a neck warmer, headband, face mask, neck gaiter, scarf, wristband or halter top. Yes, halter top. And it’s made of antimicrobial, moisture-wicking bamboo. Brandwear UPIC: brndwear 866-339-1122 www.brandwear.ca
Integrate a brand into the classic paisley print of a Bandanna and you’ve got a promotion that will outdo any hotshot campaign that dares to venture into your neck of the woods. We reckon that’s the case, anyway. Caro-Line UPIC: BANDANNA 800-845-2744 www.bandannapromotions.com
These Polyester Knit Gloves with conducting fiber eliminate fumbles while taking off your gloves to use a cell phone. Grip dots on the palms mean the phone stays firmly in your hands. Suntex Industries UPIC: SUNTEX 336-784-1000 www.mainstsun.com
Sport and spirit teams will love the custom Bandu. The poly-spandex-cotton bands feature two-way stretch for comfort and imprints made with fade-resistant sublimation inks. Martini Promotions UPIC: CRZY8740 877-276-4666 www.crazycordz.com
Buckle Down Add a finishing touch to any ensemble with a custom Belt Buckle. Duplicate almost any design in 2D or 3D in a variety of finish and color options. Add-ons such as bottle openers and jewels are also available. EMT UPIC: EMTEASY 800-289-2911 www.emteasy.com
Broken in doesn’t begin to describe the Splatter Cap. The six-panel cotton-twill cap has a contrast-colored spray across the bill. It’s one-size-fits-all and comes in four color combinations. Heritage Sportswear, Inc. UPIC: HERI0002 800-537-2222 www.HeritageSportswear.com
Form meets function in this Stretchy Elastic Headband. It’s less than an inch wide and features a full-color imprint on both top and bottom. SnugZ USA UPIC: SNUGZUSA 888-447-6840 www.snugzusa.com
The Herringbone Fedora is both refined and really fun. This classic style is made from a polyester-wool blend and comes in two sizes. SanMar UPIC: SNMR 800-426-6399 www.sanmar.com
The Pimkie Color Forecast (www.pimkiecolorforecast.com) shows in real time what colors people are wearing in fashion capitals Paris, Milan and Antwerp. The site’s cameras, positioned in the cities’ fashion hotspots, communicate with pixel-reading software that compiles the color data in hourly, weekly and monthly sets and posts it on the project’s website. Forget waiting for Pantone’s Color of the Year, now you can see the “in” colors whenever you want.
>> New U.S. Apparel Line
This summer, Polyconcept North America (PCNA) expanded its Trimark Sportswear line into the U.S. market. The line covers nine apparel categories—polos, active tops, woven shirts, sweaters, knits and fleece, vests, jackets, pants and bags and accessories—with more items to come in 2013. Check it out at www.trimarksportswear.com.