Why Only Selling Trends Could Actually Hurt Your Sales

As a distributor or decorator, clients are looking for your expertise on all the latest styles, colors, fabrications, performance features, sustainability stories and basically everything else related to apparel. Because of that, being in the know on all this definitely helps build brand loyalty and bring more money into your business.

“Understanding trends is important to your apparel sales, because it shows you have an understanding of what’s going on at retail and what’s influencing large groups of people,” says Craig Sullivan, manager of Inside Sales here at S&S Activewear“By knowing what’s trending, you also can open up a new market or sales opportunity to your client they’ve never explored or didn’t know existed. This solidifies you as a true consultant to your customers, rather than just a salesperson.”

However, depending solely on “fashion” trends to lead your sales pitches to clients can actually hurt your apparel sales. For example, it’s just not enough to present the season’s hottest color stories to your customers and say, “Hey, these are the colors of the year. Which one do you want?” You must specifically connect those colors to your client’s brand, campaign or event colors.

“Yes, you must be savvy about current fashions and decoration methods to remain fresh and valuable to your customers, but it’s key to link trends to your customers’ markets to stay relevant.”

Alison Banholzer, owner of Wear Your Spirit Warehouse

Here are five ways to use—and transcend trends—to make even more apparel sales this year.

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What’s “Brand Fill” and How It Affects You and Your Client’s Bottom Line

Brand fill is a big issue in the promo industry. While this isn’t anything new, industry pros are shining a brighter light on it because of its negative impact on Mother Earth—and the promotional industry’s reputation.

Even if you’re new to the term “brand fill,” you’re probably aware of the problem it describes. Brand fill is a reference to the cheap, useless and unwanted merch that’s given out to people, which usually just ends up getting thrown away and building up landfills – contributing to the ongoing pollution of our planet. 

“One way to help prevent cheap T-shirts’ from becoming brand fill is simple. We educate our customers on the overall ROI of spending a little bit more money up front on a better-quality shirt.”

Megan Erber, Outside Sales Manager at S&S Activewear

And of course, the demand for these low-hanging-fruit products perpetuates the cycle. That includes fast fashion’s manufacturing process that only adds to the negative effects on the environment. (And we’ve watched H&M and Forever 21 get torched in the media for their fast fashion manufacturing practices.)

On the PromoKitchen podcast, Jamie Mair, chief growth officer at Spector & Co, said that “People see ‘branded stuff’ as junk, because there’s too much brand fill that’s being made and given out. We should be focused on selling products with purpose. Instead, there’s so much brand fill and fast fashion that it’s irresponsible, and not sustainable. We clearly see the implications in the supply chain and environmentally.”

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A Close Look At 2021 Apparel Trends, What’s Selling and Who’s Buying

This session was featured in The S&S Virtual Experience (Feb 2021)

Learn about the top apparel and accessory trends kicking off in 2021, from a few of our Brand partners and S&S reps. We’ll also share our top 10 must-have categories, so you won’t want to miss this one.

Featured Panelists:

CLICK HERE to see the other videos from our virtual event.

Sustainability and CSR: Why it Matters to Consumers and How to Sell it

This session was featured in The S&S Virtual Experience (Feb 2021)

Sustainability and CSR is increasingly moving to the forefront of consumers minds. David Shultz, of Commonsku and PromoCares, leads a panel of suppliers and distributors to discuss the increase in demand for sustainable products and how you can incorporate them into conversations with your clients.

Featured Panelists:

CLICK HERE to see the other videos from our virtual event.

Session Takeaways:

More corporations and schools are starting to ask for sustainability metrics on apparel.

Denise Taschereau , co-Founder of Fairware, says that she’s starting to see more conventional corporations ask for background data on apparel.

“We’ve seen, in the last two to three years…what we would call more conventional companies coming to us and asking us for some pretty deep sustainability, metrics or information.”

Denise Taschereau , co-Founder of Fairware

Tech companies, universities and even those in the food industry are starting to map their carbon footprint as a company, all the way through their own operations, into their vendors operations and into the suppliers operations.

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4 Important Branding Lessons from the Rise of Streetwear’s Legendary OG Shawn Stüssy

People describe surf and streetwear icon, Shawn Stüssy as a laid-back Californian, despite being known to the world as the pioneer for a huge fashion and lifestyle movement that’s had massive staying power and appeal over the years. Back in the ’70s as a teenager, one of Stüssy’s first jobs was making surfboards—and as it turned out, 1979 was a seriously memorable year for Stüssy, when he first scrawled his infamous signature scribble.

This “punky scribble” made its debut on surfboards and would later became an iconic symbol printed on T-shirts, hats and shorts. He eventually earned cult status, and became the cornerstone of what we’d argue is the O.G. of all streetwear brands today.  Just the fact that Stüssy’s hand-drawn signature is still a relevant logo in fashion, makes it a timeless and immediately recognizable brand. From the beginning, Stüssy has also been synonymous with killer screen prints, which often used overexposed and pixelated images, paired with ironic speech bubbles – also a huge staple of the brand’s graphic tees and ads.

So, how did Stüssy lay the foundation for today’s streetwear scene, culture and designers?

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2021 Spring Apparel Fashion Trends to Watch, Wear and Sell

It’s a new year, and hopefully a new you. Retail and wholesale designers haven’t missed a beat, as they’ve turned out new styles and colors to match must-wear 2021 fashion trends. 

We’ve picked five of them that appeal to a wide audience, and paired them with new and existing styles from our inventory to help you spark ideas for your clients.

Matching Tracksuits

Remember when Run-D.M.C. made matching tracksuits, and of course those famous shelltops, iconic with the video for their song “My Adidas? Back in the ‘90s, lots of sportswear brands like FILA and Kappa turned out tracksuits made in luxe fabrications like velour and silk. We watched rappers and music artists rock out in these head-to-toe looks for promo tours, photoshoots and interviews all the time. 

Now, circa Y2K matching tracksuits are back on the scene, from designers like Miu MiuBalenciaga and Y/Project, with that fashion-meets-comfort appeal. Comfort is becoming the number 1 priority in people’s lives these days, so this look is popping up everywhere. You’ll see these styles in retail made of velour, sueded fleece, silk, and even satin.

J. America’s Women’s Rival Fleece Collection is a modern take on those tracksuits, made with sueded fleece, and includes a matching side-striped leg. This look is sure to be popular with the college crowd  Women’s Rival Fleece Hooded Sweatshirt and J. America – Women’s Rival Fleece Joggers.

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How Jiu-Jitsu Helped Rener Gracie Create the Perfect Hoodie

“I’ve been in the industry for 25 years…THIS is the one we’ve been waiting for.” That’s what a promotional products veteran told Rener Gracie one day, after witnessing his extremely high-energy and engaging presentation of the Quikflip hoodie. The spectacle was one that had huge crowds circling around Gracie, as he magically transformed his hooded sweatshirt into a drawstring bag – within seconds.

Gracie’s energetic presentation of the famous Quikflip Hero Hoodie Lite – LAFZH

Not only was it something the crowd had never seen before, but the prospect of being able to offer customers an opportunity to get double the impressions, by showing off their logo on both the back of a drawstring bag and the surface of a trendy sweatshirt – all in the same product – had every passersby salivating.

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Here’s Why Tie-Dye’s Back in a Whole New Way

Did you happen to catch Rihanna’s ultra-happy pink tie-dye dress by Asai? The demand for the throwback-patterned style hit such a fever pitch that the designer created a ready-to-wear version, with 100% of the proceeds going to charities that support Black Lives Matter.

That Asai dress definitely hit a cultural note in 2020. Yes, tie-dye has trended in and out for years, but it came to the fore in 2020’s runway and retail offerings—and promises to continue into 2021—because of the feelings it evokes: comfort, nostalgia, cheeriness, casualness and youth, even the sunny idealism of its ‘60s heyday. 

“Designers have featured tie-dye’s optimism for several years, but now the general market is embracing it.”

Pamela Ptak, Fashion Designer

Fashion designer Pamela Ptak attends lots of themed conventions, like Comic Con, throughout the year and noticed a trend toward super-happy consumerism that’s only grown stronger in 2020. “Right now, people are hungry for connection and meaning,” says Ptak, ARTSandFASHIONinstitute.com co-founder. “They’re looking to the past for a time of prettiness, peace and kindness. Designers have featured tie-dye’s optimism for several years, but now the general market is embracing it.”

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Don’t Pass on These 5 Trendy Puffer Jackets

Although 2020 hasn’t been what most of us expected, we’re still taking time to go outside, walk our dogs, hike, shop and socialize at a distance. With winter nearly here, that means people have already started their search for the perfect warm and fashionable jackets. But, with the crazy amount of options out there, which ones are they choosing the most?

While puffer coats aren’t a new trend, they’re still extremely popular and a go-to option for many people trying to stay warm. So much so, that they’ve even popped up on the fashion runways this season. Things like black belted puffers from Prada, quilted jackets in sage greens and bronzes, longer length bright white puffers and collaboration pieces with streetwear designers.

The good news is, with today’s puffers, you don’t have to choose between function and fashion. Many of them offer performance features like wind and water-resistance, along with thoughtful details like adjustable cuffs and zippered pockets, which make these styles anything but basic.

Here’s a detailed look at five outerwear styles that’ll help you and your clients figure out which ones fit their budgets and tastes perfectly for corporate programs, holiday gifts, premium uniforms and more.

Columbia – Powder Lite Hybrid Jacket – 186463

When buying outerwear, consumers want long-lasting gear that performs and molds to their lifestyles. Columbia is one of the most recognizable and desired brands out there, offering stylish outerwear, infused with the performance tech that wearers worldwide are looking for.

Their new Powder Lite Hybrid jacket features the popular puffer style, along with a hood that has an adjustable drawcord to give you the best of both worlds. The built-in heathered soft shell also brings even more fashion-forward appeal to this jacket for your client.

This jacket is proof that extra warmth doesn’t need to come with a lot of extra layers. Columbia’s new Omni-Heat™ technology uses lightweight synthetic Thermarator™ insulation to give you a “high warmth-to-weight” ratio. Also, to protect against inclement weather or unexpected downpours, the brand’s Omni-Tech™ keeps wearers dry by using multi-layered protection in all weather—and also comfortable, because of its breathable material.

Why Your Clients Will Love This Style:

  • Columbia is a popular retail brand that people know, love and request.
  • A puffer jacket style with a hood offers the best of both worlds.
  • The heathered soft-shell part of this jacket gives it a more fashionable look than the full puffers.
  • The Omni-Heat™ reflective lining and Thermerator™ insulation combines to give you the best in heat retention during cold weather.
  • The jacket’s water-resistant quality helps make this style an all-weather solution.
  • Has a women’s companion style (Style# 169906).
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Is the Iconic Champion Brand Really “The King of Sweatshirts”?

Do you remember that exciting feeling you had going to the mall in the 90s and finally being able to buy your first official Champion jersey of All-Stars like Jordan, Kobe, Shaq or Iverson? Those jerseys were some of the hottest pieces of fashion you could get your hands on back then, and when you put one on, you felt brand new.

Throughout the 80s and 90s, the iconic “C” logo was a symbol of authenticity for NBA and NFL sports apparel. Now, that logo is a symbol of authenticity for literally everything, and Champion has brought that exciting feeling back to every niche in fashion.

A COLLABORATION x MACHINE

When you buy something with a Champion logo on it, it feels different. It feels special. It feels nostalgic. That’s why for the past couple of years, we’ve seen nothing but collaboration after collaboration with Champion popping up everywhere.

Things many of us grew up with like Pac-Man, Sesame Street, M&Ms and even General Mill cereals, have done some really creative designs for limited release sweatshirts. I mean is there anything better than buying a hoodie with a print on it of Oscar the Grouch in a Champion branded trash can?

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