Embrace cooler temperatures with fashion-friendly layers
Whether due to rising global temperatures or simple fashion preferences—or both—sweaters are continually trending lighter, and are being manufactured with easy-care, machine wash-friendly fabric blends that fit busy lifestyles. These benefits are particularly appealing for employees who wear sweaters as part of their company uniforms.
“Lighter weight sweaters fit the layering trend nicely,” says Gina Barreca, director of marketing for Vantage Apparel (UPIC: vantage). “For ladies, they can go over t-shirts or a tank top and for men, a lightweight V-neck layers well over a button-down shirt.”
Up-to-date styling is important in today’s corporate uniform sweaters and suppliers are offering more items that have current retail appeal. “Longer lengths in ladies’ sweaters are popular. For example, our new ladies’ cardigan looks nice open or closed, and you can belt it for a nice crossover look. It’s good for uniforms, but also has some style,” Barreca says. Hybrids are another new popular option. (See sidebar below).
As for sweater colors, they tend to remain subdued in a basic corporate palette, according to Barreca. “Our best-selling colors are navy, black and heather gray. Deep maroon did very well as a fashion addition last year.”
Read on to see a wide variety of popular sweater options that will have your clients clamoring to place orders.
Dude, Sweet Sweater
This washing machine-friendly 50/50 acrylic and merino wool fabric Douglas Sweater is available in men’s half-zip, V-neck and vest as well as a ladies’ V-neck.
Cutter & Buck UPIC: CUTT0001 www.cbcorporate.com
With heavyweight cuffs, hem and a stand up collar, this full-zip Alpine Sweater is both professional and cozy. Made from 60-percent cotton/40-percent acrylic, it’s available in black, charcoal and navy. It’s available in men’s sizes XS-4XL and women’s sizes XS-3XL.
Fersten Worldwide UPIC: FERST723 www.fersten.com
This cleverly printed USA-made 100-percent polyester sweater looks just like a cotton knit and has a soft inner layer and textured outer layer that doesn’t interfere with an embroidered logo. Available in light gray or charcoal as either a pullover or quarter zip, it’s easy to care for and won't fade or shrink when laundered properly.
AKWA Apparel UPIC: AKWA www.AKWA.com
This fine-gauge Port Authority ladies’ V-neck sweater is made of 60-percent cotton/40-percent nylon. Features include a rib-knit trim on the neck and hem, and a stylish, longer rib-knit height at the cuffs. Colors include black, charcoal heather, deep berry, Moroccan blue and navy. It comes in sizes XS-4XL.
Stahls’ Transfer Express UPIC: STAH0001 www.TransferExpress.com
The soft, unisex COSMIC Poly Fleece 1/4 Zip is constructed of seven-ounce, 100-percent spun polyester fleece fabric with self-fabric collar and cuffs, side entry pockets and side gusset panels. Sizes include S-3XL and it is available in six colors.
America Wholesale Blanks UPIC: Blanks www.jamericablanks.com
Sophistication meets comfort with the Van Heusen long-sleeve V-neck sweater. Made from nine-ounce 60/40 cotton/rayon, the fine-gauge jersey fabric with ribbed V-neck and cuff and contrast color along the inner collar comes in sizes S-3X in black, light gray and navy.
Heritage Sportswear/Virginia T’s UPIC: HERI0002 www.heritagesportswear.com
This versatile USA-made, unisex V-neck cardigan best-seller is smooth and cozy. Wear it alone or pair it with a dress, tee or tank top. It’s available in 19 colors.
MVP Sportswear UPIC: M620114 www.mvpsportswear.com
When you need more of an athleisure feel, this quarter zip training pullover is a great additional layer to use when the weather starts to dip. Moisture wicking technology keeps you dry and comfortable while reflective tape in the front and back offers visibility in low light. It’s available in 10 colors and comes in sizes S-3XL.
Expert Brand UPIC: Exper698 www.expertbrand.com.
For a uniform sweater without the uniform feel, this women’s cardigan looks great both open and belted.
Vantage Apparel UPIC: vantage www.vantageapparel.com
For an added layering effect, match this toasty scarf with your sweater. Made of 100-percent acrylic knit, it’s perfect for cheering on your team, no matter the weather. It’s available in 18 color combinations.
Kati Sportcap & Bag UPIC: KATI www.katisportcap.com
Hail The Hybrid
Comfortable hybrid sweaters are dressier than a fleece pullover but cut like one, with a quarter-zip and rib-knit fabric. According to Vantage Apparel’s Barreca, “they can take the place of a traditional sweater in a corporate setting and allow for decoration methods other than embroidery, such as cotton appliqué.” Opt for a left chest patch or a full chest patch like Vantage Apparel’s flat-back rib pullover with cotton-rib laser appliqué decoration (right).
The Uglier The Better
It’s time to start thinking about unique promotional ideas for your clients to use for National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day, which is Friday, December 16. These five recent ugly sweater promotions may inspire you.
- Secret Delivery Uber partnered with ugly Christmas sweater company Tipsy Elves in a four-hour promotion in 2015 that was launched with a push notification to customers that contained a secret code to unlock the UberELVES option. Customers then used one-click ordering and, for a $10 delivery fee, the sweater conveniently showed up, perfect for Millennial procrastinators on their way to ugly holiday sweater parties, who then Tweeted, Snapchatted and Instagrammed about their experience.
- Wear To Win Port Canaveral-based Victory Casino Cruises celebrated the day by entering ugly Christmas sweater wearers into a contest that gave them a chance to win one of three free-play prizes. They promoted the event on social media.
- DIY Design Coke Zero took the ugly sweater theme a step further by building a Coke Zero Sweater Generator, which allowed users to design an ugly Christmas sweater online with minimal Coke branding. Each sweater designed went into an online gallery where people voted on best and worst designs. The top 100 sweaters were actually made and sent to their creators—who most likely bragged about them (while modeling them) on social media sites.
- Christmas in August The Williamsport Crosscutters, a Minor League baseball team, held a “Halfway to Christmas” promotion by wearing ugly Christmas sweater jerseys for a game in early August 2014. The ugly jerseys were then auctioned off after the game—visual social media marketing opportunities galore.
- Damage Control Starbucks handed out free ugly mini-sweaters for its cups last National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day to customers who came to Starbucks on that day, bought a Frappuccino and paid for it with a registered Starbucks Rewards Card. It was a smart promotional move from the company that had abandoned its Christmas-themed cups in favor of plain red holiday cups, to the chagrin of Christmas-loving, caffeine-addicted people everywhere.
A hospital needed to add sweaters to its uniform choices and worked with its distributor to connect with supplier Edwards Garment (UPIC: EDWARDSG). The hospital selected an open cardigan for the ladies and a V-neck pullover for the men. The distributor worked with Edwards on the logistics of the program so that the sweaters were delivered without the distributor having to do the fulfillment. The hospital was thrilled with the sweater as an addition to its uniform program and the distributor felt that Edwards Garment exceeded its expectations by handling the distribution details.