This fall, the promo industry can expect an increase in sales for collegiate apparel – especially for campus favorites like T-shirts, hoodies and hats.
“Things are happening so quickly,” says Howard Potter, CEO of A&P Master Images in Utica, NY. “Demand is up across the board.”
Athletic apparel in synthetic fabrics from brands like Under Armour and Nike, is popular in this market, according to Potter. He also sees a trend toward premium cottons and blends, such as tees from Bella + Canvas.
As far as styles go, one garment still reigns supreme: “T-shirts are always our most popular item, followed by hoodies,” Potter says. “No matter what time of year it is, T-shirts are always the most popular.”
Another big trend on campus is relaxed-fit apparel. “We’re seeing a lot of baggy and oversized clothing becoming really popular,” says Chris Anderson, collegiate sales manager at College Hill Custom Threads , a distributor based in Pullman, WA. “Oversized sweatshirts are popular, but also baby-ribbed tees and crops.”
Traditional school colors remain hot, but secondary colors still play a role, especially for large-scale events, which many colleges and universities are planning for the first time in over a year. If the school you’re working with has some leeway with branding standards, consider showing garments in bright shades like orange, yellow or pink, or take it one step further with a tie-dye look.
“Tie-dye continues to show strong growth in our assortment,” says Catherine Tremblay, private brand merchandising manager at Top 40 supplier alphabroder. “This trend goes hand-in-hand with the retro macro trend that we’re seeing across many categories, including outerwear, tees, sweatshirts and accessories.”
Also consider the highly anticipated return of college sports, which brings opportunities for athleticwear of all kinds.
“We’re seeing strong demand in fleece tops and bottoms in this market, with jogger silhouettes playing a huge role during the pandemic” and into the first half of 2021, says Natalie Hopkins, senior merchandiser of alphabroder.
In addition to athleticwear, distributors have been collaborating with college athletic departments and stadiums to plan giveaways of T-shirts, hats, cups and other swag as fans return stadiums to full capacity.
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