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Jackets and Outerwear

By Mindy W. Toran

To create a lasting corporate impression, jackets may just be required. They certainly can't hurt. Especially when you consider the possibilities, because - let's face it - outerwear is always in.

In addition to being functional and fashionable, jackets and other outerwear items limit exposure to the elements, while at the same time increasing exposure of a company's logo. Neat trick.

These days, outerwear runs the gamut from fashionable windshirts to twill and microfiber jackets to workwear, weather-resistant items and casual wear (including fleece pullovers and vests, baseball jackets and reversible clothing).

The casual-yet-stylish look is much in demand. "The main trend we've seen in men's jackets is the open-bottom look," says Daryl E. Schumacher, president of id4u Jackets With Identity. "For the past 20 years, most men's jacket styles featured some sort of elasticized, gathered waist. About three years ago, the open bottom style began its presence in the youthful, urban market and has been gaining strength ever since."

In addition, the casual, oversized look has begun to catch on, leading to longer jackets that drop to the top of the hip rather than the waist. "This was very evident in the recent winter Olympics, where all U.S. participants were given an open bottom leather coat that dropped to mid-hip," Schumacher adds.

Performance products continue to be a major draw. Multi-functional fabrics - think wind-resistant, waterproof, stain-resistant, wash-and-wear - remain popular. "People are looking for fabrics treated to make them soil- and water-resistant, especially in the category of work wear," says Roger Carroll, vice president of marketing at King Louie International Inc./Time Out. "These garments are particularly appealing to unions and blue-collar industries, where the workforce works outdoors more frequently and therefore, needs protection from the elements, making jackets the logical choice for branded visibility of a logo." Schools and professional organizations, insurance companies, investment bankers, rental car agencies, and golf courses are also key buyers of outerwear.

Corporations tend to look for heavy-brushed twill, micro-fiber and soft leather. A huge trend for corporate America has been to dovetail with the auto-racing world through some sort of sponsorship. "As a result, companies are incorporating racing themes into their outerwear premiums for their employees and clients," Schumacher says.

Other trends: Tone-on-tone embroidery and the placement of logos on sleeves and the back of the neck create an appealing look without being ostentatious. Clean finish embroidery is also in demand. Dual-purpose embroidery pockets (available on many items) allow decorators to embroider a jacket without marring the lining and double as functional, inside-zippered pockets.

"Logos can be monogrammed or embroidered discreetly on the inside of the jacket while hiding the embroidery backing in the inside of a pocket. This trend is particularly popular for higher-end fabrics and more expensive jackets," says Gina Barreca, marketing communications manager at Vantage Custom Classics.

The bottom line: There are so many styles and options available that outerwear will always be "in." The appeal of these items will never wear out, no matter how much they're worn.

COPYRIGHT © 2003 The Advertising Specialty Institute. All rights reserved.
Mindy W. Toran

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