Dressed to Impress

Promotional clothing is a mainstay of product media, but it is being undersold by UK distributors. Are they missing a trick?

A recent survey suggests that among many gift house distributors, clothing still represents only a relatively small share of total turnover. By contrast, our American peers find that on average clothing is around 35% of business.

The bpma is determined to change this through education to end users and also through supporting distributors on the complexities of choice and branding.

A major start point was the showcasing of branded clothing on the bpma stand at Marketing Week Live show at the end of April. Secondly, a special focus group has been set up involving brands, clothing distributors and decorators to try and address the under-representation of clothing in the product media mix.

Trends and styles

Amy Brewer, managing director from United Brands says Softshell has been hugely popular as a style, but more and more fashion styles of retail are starting to move into the promotional space. There are opportunities now for styles that are both fashionable and functional, she says, chiding the promotional industry for its love of safe colours.

Product Media’s branding guru, Clive Allcott, agrees with this trend for Softshell jackets but suggests that traditionally it would have been embroidered. A fresh option is laser engraving down the side panels of the jacket, offering a bespoke look. Clive suggests that education remains the key stumbling block for progression, from end user through distributors.

Baljit Rai, director of Brandmyclothing.com says that he has seen an increase in larger volume orders, clients are looking for shorter lead times and willing to pay the little extra for the high quality.

New looks

Phil Millar, managing director of Creative Apparel says corporate buyers now have the choice from a huge range of different colours across all garment types. The introduction of an extensive pallet on budget garments has allowed businesses to portray their corporate image in a much more exciting way and has allowed suppliers to experiment with new ways for them to express it.

“Gone is the plain black text on the left breast of a white round neck tee shirt, and in its place are vibrant coloured, fitted tees with multi-coloured prints and logos placed on shoulders and collars. Raised print, blackboard print and rhinestones are all new ways to help get a message across.”

Millar says the challenge is to continue with an innovative approach, to explore new ranges of colours and garments, to develop new embellishment techniques and stay ahead of the customers ever changing needs.

Meanwhile, Natalia Bonner, marketing and merchandising coordinator at Henbury, agrees that promotional apparel is getting ever closer to high street looks. Its latest range includes 21 new fashion forward items, such as Feel Good stretch T’s, and drop shoulder slogan tops, for impactful branding.

BTC has added more than 250 new products for 2016 including new brand Comfort Colours, a range of relaxed, easy-wearing basics with a wide colour pallet of weathered earthy hues inspired by nature. It is ideal for hotel and resort gift shops, college wear and concert merchandise.

It also claims to have the best bag collection in the industry with new products from Shugon, Quadra, Bagbase, Jassz, Westford Mill and Nike Golf Plus, as well as exciting new headwear additions from Beechfield and Result.


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