The Top 3 Secrets to Buying Apparel
One trip to the back of your closet and you may find at least one dreadful example of an apparel purchase gone wrong. If it’s your job to buy for your company or organization, these tips will help to avoid the stress of making the wrong choice. You want to give a very personal gift of value to be worn and enjoyed for years to come. When your customers, prospective clients or employees get to the back of their closet, you don’t want your company’s shirt hanging as a misfit, never to be worn.
Why should you buy apparel? Giving apparel to promote your business is by far the #1 direct marketing product category with annual sales estimated at $5.6 billion. Nearly 30% of all promotional purchases are apparel. Fashion, form and function along with your brand image are a magical combination. Before you put your final plans into action, let’s clear away the confusion and make your decision easier. There are 3 areas to consider: fabric function, gender style and quality. By focusing on these 3 areas, you can make a better selection for what works best for your project and budget. Next, I’ll tell you some common goofs to avoid when buying apparel. Finally, you will see answers to some frequently-asked client questions.
THE TOP 3 SECRETS TO BUYING APPAREL
1. Performance Apparel and Performance Brands are current apparel buzz words.
What is your garment going to be doing? How will it be used? Begin with the end in mind. Corporate buyers and non-profit groups are now looking for form and function as a key consideration.
100% Cotton is sharing the spotlight with many synthetic fabrics, such as performance apparel. Performance apparel has many attributes: anti-wrinkle, anti-fade, anti-pill, anti-shrink, anti-stretch, antimicrobial and moisture-wicking, to name a few. This apparel can stand hard use and constant washing demands of activities like those of restaurant servers and construction workers. Many athletic and golf apparel lines use antimicrobial fabrics to reduce bacteria growth caused by perspiration.
Keep in mind that waterproof, water-resistant and water-repellant do not mean the same thing. Waterproof garments are seam-sealed, able to withstand a specific amount of water pressure and keep the wearer dry. Water-resistant apparel is chemically treated to resist water. To be considered water-repellant, a fabric must resist penetration by passing tests before and after washing and dry cleaning. You may be hearing about a very popular performance fabric called moisture wicking. This apparel is made from synthetic materials designed to draw moisture away from the body.
Be on the look out for different names for the same performance features. Apparel makers have branded their performance products. Here are just 4 examples:
ClimaCool – Adidas technology that keeps air flowing around the garment to help regulate body temperature.
Cool FX – Izod technology that disperses moisture across the garment.
Dri-Fit: Nike water-wicking system to keep the wearer dry
StretchFlex: Bella-Alo’s stretch fabric.
2. Men’s and Women’s styles and sizes are very different. Many brands offer companion styles to dress both men and women.
Men’s shirts are shaped straight through the torso with the shoulders slightly sloping down from the collar and the sleeve sloping down at an angle. Basic fit considerations involve the neck, shoulder and sleeves. Men’s sleeve lengths are offered short or long sleeves down to the wrist. Men’s short sleeve shirts are worn longer on the arm, in some styles down to the elbow. Oversize shirts have the same cut yet larger in overall dimensions.
Women’s shirts are tailored to better fit a women’s natural shape and to give more comfort. Tailoring at the waist makes the shirt lighter and more comfortable without extra loose fabric bunching at the waist. Sleeves are typically shorter and fit closer to the shoulder. Some women’s shirts are available in a length sleeve, which is flattering for women because it displays the slimmest part of the arm while covering the upper arm. Fitted at the waist, many women’s shirts will feature a slight flaring at the hips.
Another key distinction in women’s apparel is flaring to allow for the difference in chest sizes. Flaring flatters a woman’s features, allowing for better movement and comfort without bunching of excess material. Along with the tailored contour, women’s styles are cut shorter than men’s shirts. Another notable difference is that women’s shirt buttons are found on the left side of the placket, while men’s shirt buttons are on the right.