Eye On Apparel: Strengthening Connections With Premium Products

Roupplar / The_Molostock / Shutterstock.com. 

Looking to make a lasting impression? Cue promotional products. Looking to say “thank you” with an added touch of class, communicate the feel of luxury or exclusivity, recognize top employees or promote a company’s loyalty and rewards program to clients? Cue high-end, brand-name and premium apparel and accessories.

Given as rewards for performance and for meeting certain goals, as part of an incentive program to inspire action, or chosen as gifts or giveaway items, premium promotional apparel and accessories add value that is both unique and memorable, helping companies reach target goals, create lasting change and thank employees and partners for the work they do.

Premium promotional products are popular for a company’s internal programs, designed to improve the workplace environment or overall efficiency. The goals of these programs are broad and may include one or more of the following objectives: boosting morale, fostering teamwork and communication, decreasing absenteeism, ensuring safety, reducing employee turnover, attracting and retaining quality employees, and celebrating years of service milestones. Businesses in all industries are committed to these programs, and in the U.S. alone, they spend a whopping $90 billion each year on incentives, according to the Incentive Marketing Association. In a study by the Society for Human Resource Management of 738 human resources professionals working for companies with 500 or more employees, eight out of 10 (80 percent) said their company has an employee recognition program in place.

When it comes to employee gifting alone, U.S. companies spend $40 billion every year, according to the Business Gift Satisfaction Report: Employee Gifting Supplement, a 2017 report by data management company Knack. The supplement, which includes the results of a survey of 500 full-time U.S. workers on employee gifting, also found that employees expect companies to spend the most on gifts that recognize employee milestones ($150 average) and the least on gifts for birthdays ($50 or less), but an average of $75 on gifts to recognize promotions, work anniversaries and holidays; a number that remains consistent by region. Their favorite gifts to receive? According to Knack, 76 percent of employees said unique or useful items, followed by food (50 percent), wine (43 percent), gifts personalized with their initials or name (40 percent), gifts with a giveback component (40 percent), spa products (36 percent), gifts with company branding (26 percent) and flowers (18 percent).

Nearly nine out of 10 people (88 percent) who participated in the Knack survey, however, said they’d rather receive gift cards. The shortcoming of gift cards, in comparison to the appeal of tangible products, is that they’re fleeting, and after the gift is given, it will leave little impact on the recipient, especially today when most people want instant gratification. After employees open their gift card, the report found that only 23 percent of C-level employees and 37 percent of junior-level staff will remember it; a sentiment shared by a large portion of the nation, as $3 billion in gift cards goes unredeemed every year, according to CBS News.

Instead, companies can show their appreciation for employees, or motivate them to change current behaviors, with tangible merchandise. A case study from Massey Energy in Chapmanville, West Virginia, a coal producer, shows how. The company wanted to improve employees’ safety and reduce absenteeism and time lost from accidents. Massey Energy worked with distributor Artistic Promotions, LLC to develop a concept relating to football—something that appealed to many of its workers—and named it “Raymond Safety Bowl” after a former employee who was known for his safe work practices. A three-tiered point system was created and the points could be redeemed to purchase high-end merchandise in the Raymond Safety Bowl Catalog or online, which included a selection of premium products, such as fishing, hunting and camping gear, electronics, luggage and home accessories, like appliances and lawn equipment. As a result of the program, Massey Energy saw a reduction in absenteeism, a 47-percent reduction in time lost from accidents over the prior year and a savings of $5 million from accident reduction. The company was also recognized with Incentive Marketing Association’s Circle of Excellence Award in 2005 for its Raymond Safety Bowl campaign.


The Gear for Sports Big Cotton Jacket is a sleek and functional addition to a company store or as part of an employee gift. Made from a blend of 80-percent cotton and 20-percent polyester—75-percent cotton and 25-percent polyester for oatmeal/dove gray (shown)—the Gear for Sports-branded jacket is movable, with elastic at the waistband and cuff, details such as a nylon-crinkle, woven overlap at the outer collar and a zipper tape. Customize the jacket with a left chest embroidery that measures four inches wide by four inches high, with up to a nine-color decoration. Available in S-2XL in black, charcoal/black, navy and oatmeal/dove gray (shown).

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


Carrying the timelessness of the Champion brand, the Champion Eco® Powerblend® Pocketless ¼ Zip is an everyday pullover that’ll get lots of wear. Made from a lush blend of 50-percent cotton and 50-percent cotton fleece, details include a covered zipper, a finished back neck seam and relaxed bottom openings. Add customization with a left-chest imprint. Available in XS-2XL in 18 colors, shown in orange.

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


The Polo Ralph Lauren-branded Brushed Back Tech Jersey 1/2-Zip is a top-notch addition to a company’s incentive program, or to include as a gift in giveaways. Made from a blend of 85-percent polyester and 15-percent spandex, the garment features the Ralph Lauren logo at the wind guard, left sleeve and left back hip. Details include hemmed sleeves and bottom, a taped right chest pocket and placket, and a half-zip placket with a metal zipper pull. Available in S-2XL in polo black or French navy (shown).

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


A trending option that carries the quality of the Tommy Hilfiger brand, the Tommy Hilfiger Baron Plaid Button-Down Shirt is a casual woven shirt packed with the comfort of 100-percent cotton. Featuring the Hilfiger flag embroidered at the top-left corner of the pocket, details include a button-down collar, a left-chest pocket and a contrast inner neck yoke. Available in S-3XL in red apple plaid with navy, grey and white (shown).

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


Not only is the Ladies Fine Line Stripe Polo lightweight and easy to wear—it’s made from 92-percent polyester and eight-percent spandex—but it’s a Callaway-branded garment with a list of amenities for the wearer. The performance jersey polo is made with opti-dri technology, designed to keep wearers cool and dry, while UV Repel offers UPF 30+ to shield skin from the sun. Additional details include a mock collar and V-neck placket, a double-needle hemmed bottom with side vents, a tag-free heat-seal label, a contrast heat-seal chevron logo on the back collar and the Callaway-embroidered logo on the right sleeve. Available in women’s S-3XL with a companion men’s style in black, surf the web (a cerulean blue), peacoat navy/white and cayenne 930 (shown).

Perry Ellis International  /  PPAI 255232, S8 /  www.pei-corporateapparel.com


A truly classic look, the Jack Nicklaus-branded Mini Grid Woven Shirt will become a new staple in recipients’ closets. It’s made from a tri-blend of 66-percent cotton, 30-percent polyester and four-percent elastane, featuring performance strength fabric for superior comfort. Details include a button-down collar, eight-button front and adjustable cuff with a rounded hem. And best of all? It’s machine-washable. Available in men’s S-4XL in Provence blue/white and quiet shade white (shown).

Perry Ellis International  /  PPAI 255232, S8  /  www.pei-corporateapparel.com


A jacket that boasts an ultra-soft hand, the Women’s The North Face Skyline Full Zip Fleece Jacket carries the label of a brand associated with high-quality outerwear that’s built to last, and does just that. Made from 100-percent polyester, the peached-face fleece has a cotton-like hand and features a brushed interior, micro-elastic binding at the hem and contrast binding on the hem, collar and pockets. Featuring The North Face logo on the left chest, the fleece is available in women’s S-XL and in a complementary plus-size style and men’s style in four leaf clover heather, black, dark gray heather, urban navy heather and Aztec blue (shown).

Land’s End Outfitters  /  PPAI 574685, S7  /  www.business.landsend.com


Companies with a workforce that’s exposed to the elements—like construction workers, foresters and loggers—can recognize top-performing employees with a garment from a brand known for the outdoors. The Unisex Carhartt Midweight Full Zip Hooded Sweatshirt is made from a 50-percent cotton and 50-percent polyester blend with a full-length brass front zipper, two front hand warmer pockets and stretchable, spandex-reinforced rib-knit cuffs and waistband. Featuring the Carhartt label in two locations, the sweatshirt is available in men’s S-XL with a complementary plus-size style, in black, carbon heather, moss, new navy and heather gray (shown).

Land’s End Outfitters  /  PPAI 574685, S7  /  www.business.landsend.com


Looking for a special way to thank a sales team for a productive year? Consider a pair of super cool shades. The Maui Jim-branded Hikina sunglasses are polarized and rimless, and are made with MauiPure® LT, the company’s thinnest and most lightweight lens material. Designed with performance top of mind, the frame and lenses weigh just 10 grams, and the nose pads were made for less slip, but more grip. Select from seven frame and lens colors. Shown with a matte Tortoise frame in MAUISunrise, a matte black frame in MAUIGreen and a crystal matte frame in Blue Hawaii.

Maui Jim Inc.  /  PPAI 232755, S6  /  www.mauijim.com 


Helping a client plan a gift for an employee who’s reached a major career milestone? Consider awarding them with an item that’ll truly surpass their expectations with the diamond fashion x-style ring in 14-karat white gold with 45 round diamonds totaling .45 karats. To ensure the upmost accuracy, each diamond is prong-set by a master craftsman.

Antwerp Diamonds Incentives  /  PPAI 270274, S1 /  www.antwerpdiamondsusa.com


Made in Peru from 100-percent pima cotton, the Bobby Jones-branded Luxe Pima Raglan Sleeve Crew Sweater is exceptionally soft. It features a crew neck and raglan sleeves for movability and is machine-washable. Available in men’s S-XL in serenity (a turquoise shade) and harmony (shown).

Bobby Jones/Sunice  /  PPAI 240839, S4 /  www.bobbyjones.com


A most sincere and memorable way to say thank-you is with a watch. The Chandler from Citizen Watch America is made for everyday wear, and features a stainless-steel case, distressed brown strap and iris blue dial. The watch’s caliber number is B612—a detail that may interest collectors—which refers to the unique internal mechanism, or movement, of the watch. A one-fifth-second chronographic measures up to 60 minutes and shows a 12- and 24-hour time and date. Best of all, it’s powered by light—any light—so it will never need a battery.

Citizen Watch America  /  PPAI 410292, S1 / www.citizenwatch.com


Companies that recognize top employees with an incentive trip, say to a resort with a highly-rated spa, should also plan to present them with a lush, high-quality robe. The Boca Terry Satin Stripe robe features a 100-percent polyester shell and French Terry lining and is available in a kimono collar (shown on male) and a shawl collar style (shown on female), with the latter featuring a roll-up collar and cuffs. With generously sized pockets, double belt loops and a hanger loop for convenient storage, this gift will be a lasting reminder of their resort experience. Available in white or ecru (shown).

Boca Terry  /  PPAI 254386, S3  /  www.bocaterry.com


It’s functional—everyone can always use a belt—and durable. Leather belts, like the Cognac Italian Full-Grain, are durable enough to last for up to 10 years. Mission Belt’s Italian Full-Grain Line is ethically sourced from the French countryside and vegetable-tanned in Italy’s Tuscan region; a process that means no two belts are exactly like. Featuring a 35- or 40-milimeter buckle and a 1.25- or 1.5-inch Italian full-grain leather strap, the belts can be easily customized for size, and every time one is sold, $1 is donated to combat hunger and poverty worldwide through micro-lending. Available in Nero, Moro, cuoio and cognac (shown).

Mission Belt  /  PPAI 771009, S2 / www.missionbelt.com


An absolutely exquisite gift in every way, the TAG Heuer Aquaracer, made in Switzerland, features a brilliant 41-milimeter stainless steel case with a steel- and gold-plated bracelet. It’s also automatic, with a 38-hour power reserve and is water-resistant up to 300 meters. The watch has a brilliant blue face with a sunray-brushed dial and a rotating bezel and features sapphire crystals. And best of all, the recipient will be reminded of the giver every time they check their watch.

Tourneau, Inc.  /  PPAI 185492, S2  /  www.tourneaucorporatesales.com


Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB. 

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