Before you even ask, no, “X” will not be making a cameo on the following list. Why? Frankly, we don’t want to insult your intelligence by insisting that a xylophone is a summer-wardrobe necessity. Not to turn off all the xylophone enthusiasts out there, but it’s kind of hard to throw in a beach bag.
That omission aside, read on for an alphabetized list of styles, tips and information to help you create the perfect summer promotion.
Accessories. Totes and sun hats “work great for summer promotions,” said Crystal Raymond, marketing coordinator for Los Angeles-based Bella. However, as opposed to bundling accessories, it might be wise simply to encourage customers to spend more on a higher-quality item. Though John Amsterdam, president of Neet Feet in Oceanside, Calif., expected customers to pair, say, a beach bag or mat with flip-flops, he found they typically only went for one or the other. “Everybody seems to think it’s still a good idea, it just didn’t work out in reality,” he added.
Breathability. “Summer brings warmer weather, so naturally the season’s apparel becomes lighter in weight, more airy and open,” said Lee Strom, senior marketing manager at SanMar Corporation in Preston, Wash.
Cotton. Nothing is more classic and airy than the fabric of our lives. However, “In addition to its lightweight breathability, one of the things that makes cotton an ideal fabric is its versatility,” Strom added. At SanMar Corporation, cotton is being used for summer polos and bags, as well as new apparel styles.
Durability. Since kids are out of school and people are on the beach, products are getting used and abused in ways that are unlikely in any other season, Amsterdam said. He has implemented a pretty rigorous testing procedure—sandals are left to bake in the sun for weeks, worn every day for months at a time, and once, he even submerged a pair in a bucket of water for a week to check the leather’s quality. “I kid you not, I could not tell the difference,” he reported.
Eco-style. One of the best fabrics Amsterdam found during his technical assessments was crafted from recycled coconut fibers. He was skeptical at first, but after trying it out he discovered it had better air circulation and exfoliating properties than other materials. “It’s kind of the surface you’d have if you were standing on a loofah sponge,” he noted.
Fabrication. Choosing materials with little extras can help keep end-users comfortable as temperatures climb. Strom pointed to SanMar Corporation’s Port Authority Modern Stretch Cotton Collection of women’s separates. “Made from cotton and a bit of spandex for stretch, these feminine separates offer a summer lightness with the flattering stretch that spandex provide,” he said.
Graphic design. As Strom maintained, lighter and brighter color choices are ideal as palettes warm up with the weather. Finding the right shade is extremely important for how a product will be received, said Amsterdam. He suggested using neutral core colors, and incorporating brand hues into the logos. A black sandal with a green-and-purple logo is infinitely more wearable that green-and-purple sandals with a black logo, Amsterdam confirmed.
Helena. As a must-have summer style for Bella, the blousy Helena Racerback Tank (see below) has a feminine fit that makes it a perfect addition to any summer wardrobe, said Raymond.
Import. Though some of his collection is assembled here, Amsterdam does import a handmade sun visor and beach bag from Indonesia (that’s another “I” word).
Jersey. An additional fabric choice for summer, jersey is most often seen in T-shirts. It is lightweight, has a fair amount of stretch and drapes quite well.
Knowledge. Keep retail in mind when choosing fabrics and styles for summer. “The knowledge that is gained from these outlets will allow for the distributor to make appropriate apparel choices based on their customers and future forecasts,” Raymond affirmed.
Logo. In keeping with a more fashion-forward design, don’t just imprint in the typical areas. A less overt, yet ultra-effective, example is the logo-in-the-sand footprint for which Neet Feet is known. Amsterdam also shared a recent innovation on the company’s Zori sandal (see “Z”)—a molded rubber logo tag, which is recessed into the sandal strap.
Markets. “It is important for a distributor to pay attention to trends happening in the market while also listening to their customer’s feedback,” said Raymond.
New. In addition to the company’s Helena racerback (see “H”), the Catrina Sheer Rib Tank is also new for summer at Bella. This spring, SanMar Corporation debuted quite a few new pieces in cotton, Strom said, including a Port Authority EZ Cotton Piqué Sport Shirt, which will resist pilling
Options. Explore customized choices for a more personal and cost-effective promotion. “We try to give everybody the most bang for their buck and [as many] customized options as possible,” Amsterdam said.
Perceived value. When it comes to flip-flops in particular, “Sometimes people see them as a shower shoe,” Amsterdam maintained. He noted that quality materials (see “R”) and added extras (see “L”) help keep end-users focused on quality as opposed to price.
Quality. “I think that for me, the most important consideration … should always be on the quality of the product, especially in footwear,” Amsterdam said. “If it’s not a good quality, it’s either going to break quickly or it’s going to be uncomfortable.”
Rubber. Because of this mantra, PVC and other inexpensive materials have no place on Neet Feet sandals. Instead, it’s all high-grade rubber, Amsterdam affirmed. “They may look the same on the shelf, but pick them up, pull on the parts, start to examine them a little closer, and you’ll see that while the appearance is the same, they have completely different properties,” he explained.
Sheer. As mentioned above (see “J”), jersey and other sheer choices help keep the wearer cool and comfortable, said Raymond, who pointed to sheer ribs and tissue fabrics as good choices. “All of these fabrics are extremely lightweight, cool and comfortable while never being stuffy or constricting,” she added.
Tanks and T-shirts. And the best items on which to use the sheer fabrics? “Tanks and … tees are always a popular choice,” Raymond noted. However, to update the standards, she recommended looking for longer lengths, rich colors and retail-inspired details (ruching, draping, etc.).
UPF. Standing for Ultraviolet Protection Factor, UPF was created to measure the sunburn protection of fabrics. And since summer equals sunshine, when the season rolls around, the feature could help you make the sale. For example, a garment with a UPF 30-plus rating reduces radiation exposure by 30 times, and only allows 1/30 of the sun’s UV rays to pass through the fabric.
Versatility. “Distributors can still accommodate the season by offering accepted business silhouettes in different fabrications,” said Strom. “If a customer gravitates toward sweaters as part of their business uniform, maybe in the summer, the distributor takes a lightweight cotton cardigan.”
Weather. The level of casual-ness in wardrobe rises proportionally with the temperatures. According to Strom, “Certain clients want to see that reflected in a distributors offering.” So be prepared.
X. Nope, nothing. But please send your suggestions to email@example.com.
Youth. “College and high-school markets are excellent for selling summer apparel,” said Raymond. Trendy tanks and T-shirts (see “T”) can help distributors break into this sector.
Zori. The little rubber sandal that could, it’s a standard Neet Feet offering with construction that can be likened to the retail brand Havianas.