Eye On Apparel: First-Rate Products With An Eco Focus


Every year, The PPAI Expo provides an opportunity for suppliers to introduce their newest and most popular apparel for prospective distributor partners to consider for upcoming client projects, and every year proves more impressive than the last.

This year, apparel saw a particularly big push toward sustainable manufacturing processes, fabrication and design. At Expo, exhibitor Hanes/Champion shared news about its plans to replace all virgin polyester used in its Alternative brand with 100-percent recycled polyester, along with a larger goal of 100-percent landfill diversion by year-end. Vantage Apparel showcased its Earthwise Collection, which includes an array of shirt styles—polos, hoodies and long sleeves for men and women—made from polyester sourced from recycled consumer materials like plastic bottles. The company has also pledged to recycle enough material to equal the removal of 500,000 plastic bottles from the world’s oceans by the end of 2020—at press time, they had recycled the equivalent of 2,600 bottles.

And exhibitor Threadfast Apparel introduced the Unisex Ultimate Short-Sleeve Tee, which is made from a blend of 60-percent cotton and 40-percent recycled polyester. The company is also a member of the Better Cotton Initiative, meaning that all cotton used in its products is sourced from sustainable farms that emphasize workers’ safety, advocate for women’s inclusion, care for soil health, use fewer harmful chemicals and practice sustainable water use.

Another trend on the show floor included reversible and changeable apparel. During one of the fashion shows held on the PPAI Expo Live! stage, Charles River Apparel showcased one of 18 lightweight pullovers, vests, jackets and ponchos—all items are made using at least 94-percent Softex polyester—that fold into its own pouch pocket with a zipper closure. Storm Creek also exhibited products with easy-packing capacity, like the Women’s Eco-Insulated TravelPack Vest, where the garment conveniently folds into its right-hand pocket.  

And making a comeback this year is the ever-popular fanny pack, a wearable product that offers utilitarian functions in a fashionable—and extremely convenient—way. Supplier FitKit presented its Fit2Go Kit, a sleek black case that adjusts to fit one’s waist to hold a cell phone, keys, ID and other essentials for hands-free convenience on the move. Other fanny packs in attention-grabbing, fashion-forward styles included Foxyware/Vegas Golf’s Reverse Sequin Fanny Bag with custom logo, which is adorned in allover sequins and can be worn around the waist or as a crossbody.  

Let’s take a look at some of the other standout apparel and wearables showcased at Expo.

The best part about the Solar Repreve Long Sleeve tee is that it’s made from 100-percent repreve, a fiber made from recycled materials. The other best part? Each shirt prevents 16 plastic bottles from entering landfills. The shirt also provides UPF50+ comfort, protecting wearers from sun exposure, and boasts a new forward-facing shoulder seam; a fact that, the company says, matches its forward-thinking supply chain and sustainability focus. Available in men’s XS-4XL in seagrass, white, pearl grey and arctic blue (shown).

Vapor Apparel  /  PPAI 398237, S3  /  www.vaporapparel.com

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Part of the company’s new Ultra UPF 50+ Sun Protection Collection for 2020, the Men’s Hoodie, style M1054, is made from 100-percent polyester with anti-microbial treatment to eliminate odor, along with moisture-wicking technologies. The hoodie is also lightweight, breathable and snag-resistant, for comfortable all-day wear. Available in an accompanying women’s style in white, ash and sea foam (shown).

Eversole Run  /  PPAI 199242, S5  /  www.eversolerun.com

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BIC Graphic NA showcased its efforts to become a one-stop shop for all promotional goods by adding apparel. The company recently partnered with Hanes to offer products like the Men's Hanes White T-Shirt and Retro Sunglasses With Full Color, which includes a tee made from ultra-soft, combed, ring-spun cotton, and retro sunglasses in the client’s choice of nine colors, shown in green. And appropriately, it’s the perfect choice to have end users rocking clients’ brands at festivals this summer. 

BIC Graphic NA  /  PPAI 114187, S13  /  www.bicgraphic.com

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What’s better than a trusty cap? The Richardson Trucker Visor, style 712, is a trucker-style visor made of a 65-percent polyester and 35-percent cotton blend, with a 100-percent polyester shell. The visor also features a two-and-a-quarter-inch crown with a pre-curved, contrast-stitch visor and adjustable plastic snapback. Available in eight colors, shown in khaki and coffee.

Kati Sportcap   /  PPAI 113758, S5  /  www.katisportcap.com 

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A casual cap with a vintage feel, the Outdoor Cap is a garment-washed Duk canvas hat, made with a weathered cotton visor for a vintage effect. The unstructured, low-profile cap also features six-panel construction with a pre-curved visor and a moisture-wicking sweatband—keeping wearers not only looking cool but feeling cool—and a hook-and-loop closure. Available in duk brown/brown (shown).

Kati Sportcap  /  PPAI 113758, S5   /  www.katisportcap.com 

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The Women's Transport Trek Hoodie is not only super comfortable, but each hoodie helps recycle 11 plastic bottles. Made with 45-percent recycled polyester, 45-percent polyester and 10-percent elastane, the five-ounce hoodie features a heather, jersey style with moisture-wicking capabilities, self-goods cuffs with thumbholes, front princess seams and a kangaroo pocket. The hoodie is also part of Vantage Apparel’s Earthwise Collection, where one percent of all proceeds are donated to an environmentally-focused nonprofit through 1% for the Planet. Available in XS-3XL in beach, ocean, rainforest and onyx (shown).

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

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Also, part of the Earthwise Collection is the Eureka Shirt, a casual, knit take on the traditional button-down. Made from 50-percent-recycled polyester and 50-percent polyester, each of these shirts helps recycle 12 plastic bottles. Additional details include moisture-wicking fabric, a spread collar and a shirttail hem. Available in men’s S-5XL and women’s XS-3XL in onyx, ocean, rainforest and beach (shown), with in-house decoration options including embroidery, heat transfer, screen print, laser appliqué and tech patch. 

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

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In line with two trends this year—going green and foldaway apparel—the Rincon Packable Jacket is made from recycled polyester, and even includes recycled zipper tape. The jacket is wind- and water-resistant, with a roll-away hood to keep end users dry, along with a mesh lining and breathable back vents. And storing the jacket is no problem, whether you’re at home or traveling from place to place, as it packs into a built-in sack.

Trimark Sportswear Group  /  PPAI 198982, S10   /    www.trimarksportswear.com

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When hyper-customization is what your clients are looking for, this puffy down jacket will not disappoint. It’s entirely customizable via a seamless, proprietary online platform, with no product minimums and a delivery time that’s three weeks or less for up to 300 units. The jacket is available in 23 colors, with nine customizable panels and more than seven billion color combinations. It’s made with a 20-Denier nylon fabric that’s soft, yet durable, and treated with a DWR finish, with zippers designed not to break or snag. And, better yet, a logo or graphic can be printed on four different locations. Available in XXS-3XL, with additional styles including a vest and down jacket.

Hexa Custom  /  PPAI 767010, S1  /  www.hexacustom.com

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When you’re helping a client develop a custom uniform for employees working in customer-facing positions, like the hospitality market, you’ll want to make sure their brand is complemented by a flawless, clean look. The Delano Knit Blazer is versatile and can be paired with dark jeans or trousers, depending on the occasion. Additional details also include a notched lapel collar, contoured princess seams and functional, well-placed pockets with high-quality inner lining.

Stormtech USA, Inc.  /  PPAI 260245, S4  /  www.stormtech.ca

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The Saturna Cooler Bag is designed for on-the-go activities with dual, adjustable straps making it possible to hand-carry or wear as a backpack. The welded storage compartment is also leakproof, keeping contents cold throughout the day without worry. It’s a bag end users will look for whenever they plan lakeside excursions or beach getaways. Available in dolphin/black (shown). 

Stormtech USA, Inc.  /  PPAI 260245, S4  /  www.stormtech.ca

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Made from 60-percent-recycled cotton scraps and 40-percent-recycled polyester, the District Re-Tee and the District Women’s Re-Tee V-Neck are top choices for sustainability- and eco-focused projects; the garment is made entirely from recycled fabric. To boot, the tee is never re-dyed, which eliminates a water-intensive dying process, salvaging enough energy to equate to six weeks’ worth of showers or shedding 5.87 miles off your daily commute—that’s more than 2,000 miles per year. The tee is available in eight colors, including ruby red, charcoal heather, blue heather and deep brown heather (all shown, from left). Available in XS-4XL.

SanMar  /  PPAI 110788, S16  /  www.sanmar.com

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Made from 37-percent-recycled post-consumer waste, like plastic bottles, the Women’s 4-Way Stretch Eco-Woven Shirt in tonal check and gingham, shown, are made with a four-way stretch fabric for easy movement, with quick-dry, no-iron and wrinkle-free fabric—the perfect solution for keeping clothes crisp while traveling. The shirts also offer UPF 30+ protection and one percent of all purchases from the new Eco Collection are donated to an eco-friendly organization through 1% for the Planet.

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

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Get a smooth imprint every time with the Softstyle EZ Print T-Shirt. It uses a secondary step to remove traces of fibers and fuzz on the shirt prior to printing. The 100-percent ring-spun cotton shirt, which has a modern, classic fit, also has a higher stitch density for a smoother printing surface. Additional details include a taped neck and shoulders, double-needle sleeve and bottom hems and a tearaway label. Available in white, pitch black, gravel and navy (shown) in S-XL.

Gildan  /  PPAI 250187, S13  /  www.mygildan.com

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With the FreeStyle Sublimation Polo, clients can select a hyper-customizable option. The 100-percent-polyester polo features moisture-wicking technology and guarantees the colors will remain bright, no matter how many times it’s washed, without worrying about cracking or peeling. Additional details include a tagless label, a self-fabric collar and set-in sleeves. Available in XS-5XL, with three buttons for men’s styles and three for women’s.

Augusta Sportswear Brands  /  PPAI 187246, S5  /  www.augustasportswear.com

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The Amos Polo is a short-sleeve shirt that packs a mighty punch. The polo—which is made to resemble a polo/t-shirt mix—is made from recycled polyester, though it has a soft, cotton-like hand and the darker colors offer UPF 40+ protection (UPF 15-24 for lighter colors). The buttons are also recycled, and the anti-pill, wash-and-wear fabric guarantees the polo will retain its new look, no matter how many times it’s washed or worn. 

Trimark Sportswear Group  /  PPAI 198982, S10  /  www.trimarksportswear.com

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Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.

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