Eye On Apparel: Say It With Accessories

Nikcoa / Oriental / Papaya Salad / Rawpixel / Shutterstock.com. Photo illustration by SPARK Publications. 

 

Promotional headwear and footwear offer brands a unique opportunity to incorporate their message into everyday ensembles. For example, consumers can don a red, faded wash cap with a neutral outfit or slide into a pair of sweet, colorful slip-ons and voila!—they have a casual look fit for a day of running errands, relaxing on the beach, hopping on a flight and everything in between. For brands, offering a promotional product that is not only functional, but one that can become a go-to item in wearers’ closets, only means more exposure for a company’s logo, message or cause. But that also makes it all the more crucial to really nail it when it comes to choosing and designing promotional products that effectively help promote the advertiser’s initiative, make a statement or raise awareness.

Over the past few years, there have been a good many campaigns involving branded hats and shoes. During the 2016 presidential election, President Trump’s campaign sold more than one million of his American-made red caps embroidered with “Make America Great Again,” raising more than $45 million, according to Newsweek. The caps became so symbolic during the election and in the years since that CNN has described them as iconic. A year later, more than 200,000 supporters came together for the Women’s March in Washington, donning hot pink beanies with cat-like ears to support the Pussyhat Project, a social campaign designed to raise awareness about women’s issues and human rights. The hats were blank, but nonetheless their color and shape became symbolic to the cause they represented. Many of the participating manufacturers took the message a step further by donating the proceeds to select organizations, like Planned Parenthood. 

In fashion, Nike designed its EQUALITY campaign in 2018 involving a giveaway to promote racial equality, while also presenting an incentive to new and existing customers. The company partnered with basketball player LeBron James to give away 400 pairs of its Lebron 15 “Equality” sneakers—200 black pairs and 200 white pairs—which feature “Equality.” written across the back of the heels and were a hit among fans when the shoe was released in 2017. Recipients were encouraged to swap a shoe with  someone with the opposite color to create a mismatched pair, which is how James modeled the shoes, representing the union of all races. Nike invited fans to submit a free entry per shoe size or register for a Nike+ account to submit unlimited entries for $10 each, and all the proceeds from EQUALITY were donated to the Smithsonian Natural Museum of African American History and Culture. For years to come, the recipients will remember their prized pair, the campaign and its cause whenever they wear the shoes.

In the fast-food industry, Dunkin’ complemented its rebranding from Dunkin’ Donuts by partnering with shoe brand Saucony ahead of the Boston Marathon. The company wanted to reignite the relationship between running, coffee and donuts, writes USA Today, all the while reinventing itself as also having healthier alternatives for consumers. The limited-edition sneaker—the latest version was Kinvara 10, which retailed for $110—was a step toward this new focus. Pizza Hut also launched a limited-edition shoe, though with a focus on making the order-taking process as seamless as possible for end users. In 2018, the company held a giveaway for 50 pairs of its Pie Tops II high sneakers, featuring Bluetooth technology that permitted wearers to order pizza using a button on the right shoe, and using a button on the left shoe to pause live TV, so they wouldn’t miss anything when their delivery arrived. Both a novelty and a conversation-starter—and maybe the life of the party for pizza lovers—the right button pairs with the wearer’s smartphone and a complementary Pie Tops app, and pressing on the shoe prompts the app to open. The button on the left shoe pairs with DirecTV, Spectrum, Fios, Xfinity and Dish.

With so much room for flexibility, the uses for promotional headwear and footwear are endless. But just as important as the cause the item is promoting is choosing an item that’s specific to that cause or to the user’s needs to increase wearability and brand exposure. Baseball caps—which will probably remain timeless—are a go-to that end users can wear year-round in casual settings, and that can accompany them during their extracurricular activities. Aside from the staples—baseball caps and beanies—there are other styles that’ll be “in” this year, according to runway looks that may spillover into promo, including cowboy hats, bucket styles and headwear with faux fur and embellishments, according to StyleCaster, hinting to a time of  experimentation with different styles, colors and fabrics. Ben Roberts, vice president of marketing for supplier Outdoor Cap in Bentonville, Arkansas, says that snapback and meshback caps are the most popular styles this year, with structured caps on the rise. 

Brands are returning to the familiar and slightly nostalgic with customization using patches being a top choice for caps, Roberts says. “Continuing their popularity, caps with patch decorations are evolving to be more sophisticated with corner patches or other decoration locations as well as new  throwback shapes that elicit thoughts of the ’80s and ’90s.” Read more on patches below.

A great choice for an event or fundraiser involving or encouraging physical activity, brands can have end users lace up with their logo. The 4 Color Shoe Laces are white polyester and can be customized using a four-color imprint on both sides.

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

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Also trending in retail this year are mid-calf socks and sneakers paired with shorter hems, like shorts, skirts and dresses, presenting an ever-relevant opportunity to showcase branding with the Customer Crew & Mid-Calf Crew Socks. Made from a blend of 85-percent cotton, 10-percent nylon and five-percent spandex, with up to six Pantone-matched yarn colors—there are more than 1,000 yarn colors available—choose from the eight-inch crew length or the nine-inch mid-calf styles.

Custom Sock Line, LLC / PPAI 737498, S1 / www.customsockline.com

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Considering a unique addition to an employee onboarding package? With a minimum order quantity as low as a single pair, these Custom Printed Shoes, shown in a slip-on style, can be entirely personalized to feature a company’s logo, employee’s name or both. Available in men’s sizes 5-12 and women’s sizes 6-15.

SOCK101 / PPAI 625402, S6  /  www.sock101.com

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Dubbed by the company as the #UltimateTrucker, the OC771 is designed to keep those on the road cool and comfortable. In addition to Q3® and QTech Cooling fabric, this cap is available in more than 70 color choices, so you’re sure to find one that perfectly complements your client’s brand. Available in XS-2XL, shown in charcoal/white.

Outdoor Cap Co., Inc. / PPAI 213485, S10 / www.outdoorcap.com

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For brands looking to show pride for their American roots, the PNY-USAM cap features Americana flourishes with many added features. It’s made using Q3 fabric—quickwick, quick-cool, quick-dry—which wicks moisture away from the skin and transfers it onto the fabric’s surface to be evaporated, keeping the wearer cool, and QTechCooling technology, which reduces temperatures by five degrees Fahrenheit and offers 40+ UPF protection. Available in youth and adult sizes, XS-2XL in navy Americana (shown).

Outdoor Cap Co., Inc. / PPAI 213485, S10 / www.outdoorcap.com

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An everyday option for workers who are exposed to the elements as we approach the winter months (yikes!), the Cotton Blend Fold Beanie With Custom Patch features the comfort of a 12-inch cotton blend knit beanie, with a blank leather patch for personalization. A great choice for deliverymen, and construction and service workers, your client can choose from a square patch and two sizes of rectangular patches. Available in grey and black (shown).

Oowee Products / PPAI 690324, S1 / www.ooweeproducts.com

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With a “hidden” message on the sole, these Custom Knitted Yoga/Barr Socks are the perfect option for facilities like yoga and fitness studios, whether virtual or brick and mortar, to offer customers. Featuring a customized grip, these 100-percent custom jacquard/woven yoga socks will help wearers keep their balance throughout workouts. The standard sock fits men’s sizes 6-13 and women’s sizes 7.5+, with the option to manufacture any size and style as needed.

SOCK101 / PPAI 625402, S6 / www.sock101.com

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Designed for comfort, the Titleist® Nantucket Lightweight Cap is made with premium 100-percent organic cotton, featuring an unstructured, relaxed fit. Displaying the Titleist logo on the front with your client’s messaging embroidered on the side, additional details include an underbill cross-club pattern, a tri-color webbing back strap and a moisture-wicking antimicrobial sweatband. Available in white, black, navy, charcoal, khaki and custom colors as shown.

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

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Tie-dye is having a big moment in retail this year. Provide end users with an on-trend item they’ll want to wear every day with The Game Asbury Tie Dyed cap. Made from 100-percent cotton tie-dyed twill and available in five fun shades—grayscale, rainbow, sorbet, sunrise and pastel (shown)—the cap features an unstructured, low-profile, six-panel construction with a pre-curved visor, contrasting under-visor and eyelets, and a tri-glide buckle closure. Available in one-size-fits-all.

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

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Brands looking to showcase their logo or a simple message can’t go wrong with this classic option: the Yupoong Classics Peached Cotton Twill Dad Hat. With the “dad hat” also having a moment in retail fashion, and seen as a timeless accessory, this cap is made from 100-percent cotton twill and features an unstructured, low-profile, six-panel construction, Permacurv visor and a buckle closure with grommet. Available in one-size-fits-all in seven colors, shown in diamond blue.

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

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As Ben Roberts, vice president of marketing for Outdoor Cap, said, hats adorned with patches are becoming more popular. Today’s consumers also love the power of choice and the option to choose, so give them the customization experience they’re looking for with custom patches. Whether the patches are simply being used as a fun way to get the word out about a new brand, make a personal statement or whether it’s a souvenir from a favorite event—like a concert—or being sold as a way to raise funds for a nonprofit, custom patches are an easy way for end users to add personality to their ensembles, showcase their experiences and/or travels, and jazz up old and new hats and shoes alike, while giving brands the exposure they’re looking for throughout. Patches can be made using various techniques, including woven, PVC, embroidered and leather, and they can be applied using different methods, such as iron-on, hook-and-loop fastener, sew-on or magnetic. In fashion, retailers like Lucky Brand are selling hats with a patch or two already sewn or ironed onto the hat, as a set. The retail outlet, Your Walt Disney Store, sells caps with patches inspired by different elements of Walt Disney World Resort. Its Disney Baseball Cap-Expedition Everest-Patches, sold in park stores, features various allover patch appliques inspired by Animal Kingdom’s Expedition Everest, and is also an ode to traveling and the adventurous spirit, as well as a souvenir.Some organizations and nonprofits are also selling patches to communicate theircause, with end users choosing to sport patches to promote statements or stances, such as “Plant-based,” “Black Lives Matter” or “Fight Back Against Animal Testing.”

No matter what your client is advertising, you’ll want to be sure the message is loud and clear—and the patches are made with clean lines. The Woven Fabric Applique is a custom-woven applique patch of up to 14 square inches and can incorporate up to eight colors. The patch also includes a light tack backing to secure the patch while it is being sewn to the cap or garment. Choose from five shapes: circle, square, oval, rectangle and custom die cut (shown).

WOV-IN / PPAI 113213, S5 / www.wov-in.com

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Brands with a fun logo, mascot or character icons—like The Walt Disney Company’s Mickey Mouse, Pringles’ Julio Pringles and Mars’ M&M’s Spokescandies—may consider adding a bit of dazzle and sparkle with the Sequined Patch. This 3.5-inch, embroidered patch is fully custom and can reflect intricate detail, enhanced by sequins. Choose up to four thread colors and two sequin colors.

EMT / PPAI 110810, S4 / www.emteasy.com

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Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.

 

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