Eye On Apparel: A Trend Toward Transition

 

Every year, distributors break from the PPAI Expo, traditionally held in Las Vegas, with a much broader understanding of current and upcoming trends in the promotional products industry. Presenting the most innovative details in fabrication, functionality and design, distributors return home with knowledge of new sought-after features to consider for clients’ projects and promotions in the year ahead. And even though this year’s show was held virtually rather than in person, a few trends made their way to the forefront, reflecting growing social movements, popular activities and consumers’ evolving needs. This year, trending themes in apparel for the 2021 year highlighted utilitarian jackets for work and outdoor play; versatile hoodies, including cropped styles; and sharp polos to wear at the office and in Zoom calls, with eco-friendly elements adding a popular twist to almost every introduction.

Multifunctional apparel that is rugged, made to last and designed as both workwear and comfortable outdoor wear, are items that companies can present to workers as uniforms or as part of an onboarding package, or for those who partake in outdoor hobbies, such as hunting and hiking, or who work outdoors. Within this trend is also a lighter, more day-to-day outdoor experience—like running errands, taking the kids to and from practice and walking the dog—with apparel catering toward fashion colors and hyper customization. The popularity toward jackets and outdoor adventure wear may, in part, reflect consumers’ growing desire to spend more time outdoors immersed in nature following a pandemic year that was, for millions of people around the world, spent mainly indoors. In an October 2020 survey of 2,058 adults in the U.S. conducted by The Harris Poll of fourth-quarter consumer trends, on behalf of Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA), 71 percent of respondents said they were interested in taking walks around their towns or neighborhood in the aftermath of pandemic-related social distancing measures. Nearly six in 10 (58 percent) also said they’d be interested in spending time in a public park, 55 percent said visiting a drive-in or outdoor movies, 52 percent said hiking or camping, 52 percent said visiting outside pop-up retail stores and 38 percent said attending outdoor exercise classes. According to RetailWire, being indoors has actually boosted the sales of outdoor-related goods and services , with consumers commonly turning to outdoor activities as a hobby, for exercise or as a way to de-stress.

The trending popularity of both hoodies and polo shirts may also reflect a hybrid in consumers’ needs, teetering between the comfort of work-from-home wear, which many consumers have grown accustomed to, and making the transition back into the office, for travel and integrating back into the outside world. In a December 2020 survey by the Pew Research Center, “How the Coronavirus Has—and Hasn’t—Changed the Way Americans Work,” of 10,332 adults, more than seven in 10 (71 percent) said they were currently working from home and more than half (54 percent) said they wish to continue working from home after the effects of the pandemic pass. And of those who are working from home, 64 percent said they are doing so because their workplace is closed or unavailable to them, while the rest (36 percent) said it’s their preference. On the other hand, some people are not only ready, but enthusiastic and even eager to return to their normal working environments. In a survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of OfficeSpace Software in December 2020 of 1,206 working adults, most respondents (71 percent) said they are looking forward to returning to the workplace, with 80 percent saying they most miss interacting and collaborating with their colleagues. 

With the split in workers looking to return to the office and those who prefer to stay home, and with uncertainties still surrounding the pandemic, companies can benefit from offering apparel that’s a mix of work-appropriate, work-from-home-appropriate and outdoor adventure, in styles that are timeless and endlessly useful, particularly in today’s world. Read on for a look at some of the apparel that was showcased at the PPAI Expo Direct-2-You. 

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The V-FRWS0 Windshield Vest will keep wearers safe from the elements, with a flame-resistant coating and moisture-wicking fabric. The vest, which features an outer shell made from 94-percent flame-resistant cotton and six-percent cotton, and lining made from 95-percent cotton and five-percent spandex, is also wind-blocking and water-repellent, and features a cozy fleece lining for warmth. It also includes two large hand-warmer pockets and a large, zippered chest pocket for smaller items, and it’s in compliance with modern safety standards. Available in S-6XL.

Lapco Mfg  /  PPAI 357272, S6  /  www.lapco.com

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A clean look with a rugged feel, the Cotton Canvas Cap is the perfect addition to offer in destination gift shops, to distribute to event attendees or to give employees as part of an onboarding package. Featuring a six-panel construction with a low profile, the unstructured cap closes with an adjustable plastic snap-tab closure. Available in black, navy, olive and cider (shown). 

Cap America, Inc.  /  PPAI 111597, S10  /  www.capamerica.com

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The Hexa Synthetic Jacket combines two trends seen this year—jackets, and another outside trend spotted in both apparel and hard goods: hyper customization. There is nearly no limit to the branding possibilities of this everyday jacket, which is water-resistant, windproof and highly compressible. The jacket is available in 23 color choices, with more than one selection optional for a multicolor finish, and its insulation is made from recycled materials. For a one-of-a-kind design, add-on features include a longer-length hem with an elastic drawcord hem at the waist, three choices for sleeve lengths with elastic cuffs, zippered hand-warmer pockets and an optional chest pocket. Available in XS-5XL.

Hexa|Custom  /  PPAI 767010, S1  /  www.hexacustompromo.com

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The Innovator is an eco-insulated hoodie made from 100-percent recycled materials. Featuring a smooth exterior and a quilted interior with quilted side panels, zippered hand pockets and an interior chest pocket, the jacket also features a three-piece adjustable hood, elastic piping at the sleeve openings and a drawcord at the hem, ensuring a perfect fit. Its outershell is made from 100-percent recycled 20D fine denier, recycled, woven nylon, and its insulation is 100-percent polyester, of which 35-percent is recycled. Choose from Olympic blue (shown), nickel and black for men, and dusty rose, platinum and black for women. Available in men’s S-3X and women’s XS-3XL.

Storm Creek  /  PPAI 438091, S6  /  www.stormcreek.com

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Made of super cozy sherpa, recipients will look forward to slipping into the Women’s Denali Jacket before heading out. Made from 100-percent polyester fleece lining, details include an inner storm flap with a chin guard, yoke blocking on the left chest and back, a left chest zipper pocket and stretch binding in the cuffs. Available in natural/navy and natural/black (shown) in S-3XL.

Vantage Apparel  /  PPAI 113235, S10  /  www.vantageapparel.com 

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Featuring a soft plaid blanket lining, the Maverick Canvas Jacket boasts a comfortable fit and long-lasting durability. Designed to be used in all four seasons, the jacket’s snag-resistant 100-percent cotton Boulder Cloth canvas is made from soft acrylic yarn-dyed plaid blanket lining. Details include multiple pockets, including an interior patch pocket for safekeeping valuables, an adjustable tab waistband and a heavy-duty metal zipper. Available in charcoal, field khaki, navy and tobacco (shown) in S-4XL.

DRI DUCK Traders  /  PPAI 318801, S5  /  www.driduck.com 

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Every year’s apparel introductions bring a versatile, unisex hoodie destined to become the new favorite. The 3719 Unisex Sponge Fleece Pullover Hoodie, available in 43 colors, is made from eco-friendly processes that are 100-percent sweatshop-free. It features different fabrication for its various styles, which include solid, color-blocked, digital fleece and marble fleece; solid colors are made from 52-percent airlume-combed and ring-spun cotton and 48-percent polyester fleece. Additional details include a hood with white drawcords, a kangaroo pouch, and ribbed cuffs and waistband. Available in unisex XS-2XL, shown in gold. 

 

BELLA + CANVAS  /  PPAI 304892, S6 /  www.bellacanvas.com

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Crop hoodies, tees and tanks are likely a trend that’s here to stay, at least for the near future. With retail looking to the ’90s for inspiration, the bestselling Champion® Reverse Weave Cropped Cut Off Hood is a perfect addition to forward-focused brands, specifically those catering to younger consumers. Made from 78-percent cotton and 22-percent polyester, the hoodie features a boxy, oversized fit and is cut along the cross-grain to reduce shrinkage. Additional details include a two-ply hood with a drawcord, relaxed shoulders with exaggerated sleeves and ribbed cuffs, and the embroidered C logo on the left chest and C patch logo at the cuff. Available in XS-2XL in 13 colors, shown in white.

Champion  /  PPAI 787354, S8 /  www.champion.com 

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A go-to piece that works behind the desk and outdoors in mildly chilly temperatures, the Denali Fleece Pullover is rugged and versatile, and keeps the wearer warm without fussy details. Made from 100-percent polyester mélange Heather Mountain Fleece™, it features an anti-pull and anti-static exterior with a snap-closure chest pocket, a stretch cuff and waistband, and UPF 50+ sun protection. Available in S-4XL in five colors, shown in platinum. 

DRI DUCK Traders  /  PPAI 318801, S5  /  www.driduck.com

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Employees gearing up to head back into the office will look forward to wearing their Callahan Plaid Sport Shirt. Made from 100-percent cotton and featuring a lightly brushed finish, details include a button-down collar and a two-button barrel cuff. Available in S-2XL in sky, daisy and orange (shown).

Turtleson  /  PPAI 787366, S1 /  www.turtleson.com

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Perfect for the return-to-office-transition in business casual workplaces is the Mulligan Check – Ladies’ Long Sleeve Cotton Shirt. Also available in a complementary men’s style, the 100-percent cotton shirt with a semi-fitted silhouette, can be worn with the collar open and the sleeves rolled back; long-sleeved with a buttoned cuff or open with a shirt underneath. Available in XS-2XL in camel/navy, red/navy, steel/navy (shown) or white/navy.

Artisan Collection By Reprime  /  PPAI 765350, S1  /  www.reprimeworkwear.com

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The Adult Rally Corduroy Crew Pullover adds a classic, rugged look to any brand, while offering wearers a traditional item for their wardrobes that’ll be sure to garner lots of wear. Made from a blend of 60-percent cotton and 40-percent polyester enzyme and stone-washed corduroy knit, and perfect for pairing with jeans, the unisex pullover features a rib neck and bottom bands and sleeve cuffs, with the option to embroider or screen-print a logo or message. Available in unisex sizes S-XL in eight colors, shown in Carolina blue.

Boxercraft  /  PPAI 159420, S5 /  www.boxercraft.com

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A form-fitting option is the Alternative Apparel® Women’s Eco-Teddy Baby Champ Crewneck Sweatshirt. Made from a tri-blend of 50-percent polyester, 46-percent cotton and four-percent rayon—containing both organic and recycled materials—the shirt features a V-notch crewneck, raglan sleeves, ribbed cuffs and waistband, a satin neck label and a bound, ribbed neckband. Available XS-XL in eco black, eco navy, eco true rose quartz and eco canvas (shown).

S&S Activewear  /  PPAI  /  www.ssactivewear.com

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While end users are enjoying the fresh air, they’ll appreciate the coziness and warmth of their custom Softer Than Cashmere Muffler. This 12-by-70-inch acrylic scarf features matching fringe on both ends, with a four-by-six-inch maximum imprint area. Available in seven appealing colors, including black, navy blue, red, maroon, camel, ivory and charcoal (shown). 

WolfMark  /  PPAI 114140, S3 /  www.wolfmarkties.com

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Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.

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Comments (1)
robyn cortinas
March 1, 2021
looking for some samples now for my summer pitch for Baylor, Waco Texas
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