President Donald Trump is urging American companies to move back to America, or at least out of China. For those American importers looking for an easy switch, Taiwan (also known as the Republic of China, or the OTHER China, the democratic one!) has some fantastic options.
Taiwan has been an export powerhouse for decades. First, with consumer goods. Later, after much of the low-skilled manufacturing left for Mainland China, Taiwan differentiated itself as an exporter of high-tech products. To this day, Taiwan excels in information technology, advanced materials, and a variety of other sophisticated industries.
But what about apparel and related accessories? Although it is true many of these producers relocated from Taiwan to Mainland China, many remain and continue to compete globally by offering superior quality and production capabilities. And now, in light of the tariffs on Chinese products imported into the United States, many of these products are competitive on price, too.
So are you ready to reconsider Taiwan as your new location of production? Great! This article will review which products are ripe for sourcing from this highly capable manufacturing nation.
Hong Kong may be known for their custom tailored suits, but Taiwan is definitely the regional capital for performance apparel. Taiwanese brands such as Outerboro have built a worldwide following through their innovative shirts, pants and outerwear. Each item features unique tech fabrics that provide superior comfort and value-add features like four way stretch, upcycled materials, and advanced thermal regulation.
In addition to offering better quality and more advanced features, Taiwanese manufacturers are also able to offer lower minimum order quantities compared to other manufacturers in the region.
Earlier this year, a Taiwanese sock supplier was shocked by order for 600 million socks as Trump tariffs kicked in. They were shocked, but we were not. Socks are one product that Taiwan produces exceptionally well, both in terms of quality and price.
Compared with other sock manufacturers, our Taiwanese partners offer superior sewing accuracy, production efficiency, and packaging options. They have produced billions of socks over the years. Because they are awesome.
Check our Socks Sourcing page to learn more about sourcing custom socks.
In recent years, branded towels have become essential merchandise for streetwear, fitness, and corporate segments. Fortunately for American importers, we have several outstanding sources for towels in Taiwan as well. Gym towels, beach towels, kitchen towels, you name it.
Taiwan’s merchandise manufacturing capabilities are not limited to soft goods. In fact you may be surprised to learn that we can source custom sunglasses from Taiwan as well.
The quality of Taiwan’s sunglasses are on par with the big name brands sunglasses manufactured in Italy, and available at lower price and minimum order quantity. Their capabilities are just as comprehensive, including custom acetate colors and patterns, custom metal frame designs, custom hinges and accessories, and more.
To learn more about sourcing custom sunglasses from Taiwan, check our Sunglass Sourcing page.
China may be the best place to manufacture cheap watches, and Switzerland is hands down the most reputable. But a little known fact is that Taiwan offers the best value.
Our Taiwanese watch manufacturing partners import movements, crystals, dials and other components from Switzerland, Japan and other elite supplier locations. They then delicately assemble the final product to a standard that sets them apart in terms of cost and quality.
Taiwan’s unique topography and tropical climate results in a massive amount of rain each year. So it is no wonder Taiwan has retained a strong umbrella manufacturing industry.
Given the locals in Taiwan are both sophisticated and price sensitive, the umbrella sector is especially competitive. Low cost umbrellas must be resilient to hold up during typhoon season. Meanwhile, value-add features such as automatic open and close, extra durable fabric and upgraded handles are not the exception, but the norm.
Much more, actually. Too much to include in this short post. So if there is anything you need manufactured that is not included on this page, comment below or contact us directly to see if we can source that in Taiwan as well.
Because Taiwan number 1 (alternative to Mainland China)!
“Everyone loses in a trade war” says virtually every economist and pundit on tv. Simple yet foreboding, the warning is persuasive. But it is also fundamentally false.
Clearly, trade wars disrupt business as usual. But the truth is that trade wars do indeed have winners, both on a national and business level. And although the question of which nations will come out ahead long-term in the current US China trade war remains unclear, many manufacturers are clearly winning as they experience windfalls of new business.
One such winner is in Taiwan. A sock producer in Changhua County recently reported receiving a single order for 600 million socks. Initially planned to be sourced in Mainland China, the huge sock order was redirected to Taiwan following U.S. President Trump’s announcement that his administration would increase tariffs from 10 percent to 25 percent on US$200 billion worth of goods made in China.
“Although Taiwan may no longer be the cheapest, it still has strong production and distribution capabilities. The 300 million pairs of socks can be entirely eaten [produced] by Taiwan,” said Wei Ping-i, chairman of Taiwan Hosiery Manufacturers’ Association.
Other Taiwanese industry leaders agree: while Mainland China’s low labor cost and weak regulatory environment priced Taiwanese manufacturers out of the market for most consumer products decades ago, the new tariffs imposed on Mainland China by the Trump administration now make Taiwan a prime alternative location of production.
Of course Taiwanese manufacturers are not the only country reaping the rewards of the trade war. Indeed manufacturers throughout Asia, especially in Vietnam and Bangladesh, are seeing significant increases to their US-bound exports. Supply chains are evolving; it seems for every manufacturer hurt by the trade war, another benefits.
Companies who rely on outsourcing production to Mainland China have been vocal in their disapproval. Nike and Adidas recently published an open letter to the Trump administration warning increased costs would be passed on to consumers. But this argument falls a bit flat, as inflation has remained low, under 2% annualized, throughout the entirety of the current US-China trade war, suggesting that the Trump tariffs do not directly translate into a consumer tax.
Massive brands like Nike and Adidas have the resources to lobby Washington to implement their preferred policy. For everyone else, considering alternative supply chains is the correct play. Manufacturers like the sock producer in Taiwan have the quality, capacity and capability to compete.
Customize the Prinstar Basic Sweatpants #00218-MLP
Need ODM cut-and-sew apparel development?
We can help with that, too. From tech-pack and pattern development to prototype sampling and bulk production, we can handle fully made-to-order custom apparel jobs, too. Simply contact us today with your project requirements, and we will follow up with an action plan tailored to your needs.
Over a century ago, a creative entrepreneur had the brilliant idea of printing messages onto tote bags to promote a local shoe store. It worked, and the promotional products industry was born. Since then, businesses have been printing their names onto everything with a solid surface.
Indeed, promo products are quite amazing in their diversity and creativity, but one common thread unites them all: they are all cheap. Which makes sense, right? If the primary purpose of the product is to convey a message, and it is likely to be given away for free, then product quality is not and should not be the primary concern.
But times have changed! We live in the 21st century now. Increasingly eco-conscious consumers now look at cheap, disposable plastic chotchkies with disdain. Not only that, but digital media now provides superior, more cost effective means to promote a message. Perhaps it is time we reassess how businesses ought to use gear to market their brands.
“Here, you throw this away.”
In this day and age, is it socially responsible and acceptable to flood the market with unnecessary plastic products? Products that are sure to end up in the trash after a single use, and then ultimately littering our oceans? Of course not!
“Promo” is now synonymous with “cheap”, but is it really?
On the production side, manufacturers now use the term “promo” as a euphemism to describe their cheapest option. The word has come to mean the opposite of premium.
At the consumer level, wave after wave of cheap plastic promo products have forged the same equivalency within consumers’ minds. Clearly, promo is now synonymous with cheap.
* Calculated as average of top performing promo products, i.e. bags, writing utensils, calendars, shirts and office accessories. Source: Ad Specialty Institute
But assume you are fine with your brand being associated with “cheap” stuff, you must then ask is it really cheap? If the purpose of promo products is to communicate a message, i.e. drive impressions, is it the most cost-effective means to do so?
They used to be, but not any more! Businesses now possess near limitless ways to digitally communicate with targeted audiences. And despite the cost of digital advertising trending upwards, at a couple USD per thousand impressions digital ads are still significantly cheaper than even the cheapest piece of plastic coming out of Asia.
“Promo product” is all about impressions; “Premium merch” is all about experiences.
Thanks to modern advancements in digital marketing, there is no shortage of methods to generate impressions at very low cost. Content marketing, targeted advertisements and social media are all exceptionally powerful tools, which when used correctly can deliver huge volumes of impressions and ultimately conversions.
But one domain where digital marketing falls short: brand experiences. Human experience extends beyond the visual; we rely on all of our senses to connect with the world. This is where premium merch makes a huge difference.
Well conceived and properly manufactured brand gear has a far greater chance of being adopted by the user for regular use. Whereas cheap promo products quickly end up in the garbage can, a nicely executed piece of brand merch is more likely to become a part of a user’s life. The former delivers a quick impression, whereas the latter creates a brand experience which can last months or years.
Consider the PDI Leather Wallet. Made with Italian vegetable tanned leather, it is more costly than chrome-tanned and imitation leather. But it looks, feels and smells amazing because it is manufactured the traditional way without harmful chemicals. Gift one of these to your VIP customers, and they are likely to use it everyday for the next decade.
Cost Benefit Analysis
Indeed a premium merch product may cost several times more than an equivalent promo product. But if that product is used 100 times more often, which is building more brand value? Which is better for the environment? If one comes across as tacky and superfluous, while the other feels impressive and valuable, which is delivering a better return?
According to We Are Social, 3.4 billion users were active on social media in 2018. Each and every day in 2018, roughly one million people joined social media networks on their mobile devices for the first time.
At the same time, brand merch has established itself alongside social media as one of the major new additions to the modern marketing mix. Now businesses of all sizes utilize both brand merch and social media to attract new fans and convert followers into engaged customers.
The convergence of social media and brand merch, also known as social merchandising, can be seen across various platforms. And although methods may vary according to brand, campaign and platform, the goal is always the same: enhance customer loyalty and engagement.
Whether you are new to social merchandising or preparing to release your next collection of brand merch, it is best to check industry best practices. That said, here are some basic Do’s and Don’ts to ensure your marketing budget sees a good return.
Do: Run contests on social media to attract attention
Promote your brand without paying for ads. How? Run a contest! Keep the terms simple, fun and easy, but definitely make sure to include a viral mechanism. Ask participants to comment, share, tag or engage in some other platform-specific activity. Research what type of engagement is most likely to get your post displayed to other users, and then require this action for eligibility in the contest. Do it just right and you’ll go viral.
Example: Instagram contest featuring sports drink company Cellucor
By default, the entry rules grow followers, number of likes, and viewership
A recurring giveaway allows you to give away smaller prizes on a more frequent basis, keeping engagement high and costs relatively low.
71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others (Source: Ambassador)
Do: Highlight lifestyle and pair with unique hashtag
User-generated content and testimonials are a great source of content for social media, especially content that shows the merchandise in action. This type of content gives your audience a more genuine, informed decision through real users and their experiences. Pro Tip: an easy way to help sort and find user-generated posts is to create a unique hashtag that is only identifiable with the company brand or merchandise. We like to use #merchbypdi.
Example: GoPro on Facebook
GoPro features a user submitted photo per day
This attracts customers to send in their original content for a chance to be featured.
High-user engagement for a low maintenance cost that is all user-based imagery.
Do: Maximize social proofs
One of the key principles to social media marketing is social proof. A very watered down definition is “monkey see, monkey do.”
Businesses can build confidence in their consumer base by incorporating different types of social proof with social media. The most commonly seen social proof is a product endorsement. The social media post can be paid or pro bono, sponsored or organic; The important part is that when consumers see a trustworthy figure or organization promote a product, it builds credibility in the brand, product, or service.
Example: CNN Business featuring Pizza Hut merchandise:
CNN is a globally recognized news outlet with approx. 95 million users per month (statista)
CNN publishes an article, likely sponsored by Pizza Hut, to showcase the new merch collection
Pizza Hut then shares this article with an @ tag to CNN on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Do: Social media promotions
Customers are more likely to engage with promotions that are platform specific and time-sensitive. Offering a promotion that is unique to an individual social media platform gives your audience a sense of exclusivity, whereas flash-sales with a relatively short eligibility period provide a sense of urgency. Both of these factors increase conversion rates and post engagement.
As an added bonus, specialized codes allow for more in-depth data analysis. Understanding how your audience engages with your content is crucial for determining the effectiveness of your campaign. Gather enough data, analyze it properly and deduce logical conclusions, and your future promotions are pretty much guaranteed to be more successful.
Example: Twitter featuring McDonald’s new throwback apparel
This is a great example of promoting new merchandise, personalized links and hashtags, as well as cross promotion with a company adept with data processing like Uber.
“While supplies last” creates the illusion that the item is limited or might be sold out quickly so you must act NOW!
Don’t: Limit your focus
Cross-cutting themes allow for wider reach. A great way to accomplish this is creating a collection of merchandise with a main line of apparel and accessories, and then swapping in unique and special items on a campaign-by-campaign basis. These collection shots create are great for social media because they are compelling and multifaceted. Alternatively, consider collaborative posts with complementary brands, mixing in products from both brands to create a more interesting composition and gain exposure to new audiences.
Example: Taco Bell created a line of wedding themed merchandise
In addition to Taco Bell’s main line of t-shirts and sweaters, they broke into niche markets as well. The wedding industry is worth $72 billion a year so why not!
Don’t: Be Redundant
Customers do not like to be spammed. Repetitive posts can deter current and potential customers from engagement and possibly drive them away from the brand. With so many social media outlets, the best applications of brand merch on social media are generally subtle, alluring, and creatively done.
Even still, don’t simply spam your customers with the same campaign across multiple platforms. Users hate redundancy! Instead, utilize each channel according to the platform’s features. Target the unique characteristics of the audience who follows you on a given platform. Tailoring your campaigns in this manner ensures users remain engaged with your posts.
Quality brand merchandise is quickly becoming a core component of the modern marketing mix, but the manner in which these products are deployed is crucial to maximizing your return on investment. Fortunately, following the simple steps listed above will help ensure your brand merch pays for itself.
That said, this quick list is far from comprehensive. Let us know what I missed by posting in the comments section below.
Ever see a long line at a food truck and wonder if it’s worth the wait to try? Or maybe you’ve seen videos shared by friends of juicy pulled pork on top crispy fries with oozing cheese and immediately went to eat that dish?
Okay, maybe you’re not as food-obsessed as I am. But still.
This train of thought and action is deeply rooted in the subconscious and is often referred to as social proof. This phenomenon is absolutely pervasive in modern consumer culture, so let’s take a closer look at what social proof is and learn how to best apply it your merch marketing.
What is social proof?
Social proof is defined as the interaction between psychological and social influence that refers to people’s dependence on the response and behavior of others to self-determine what they should do in a given situation.
What does this actually mean? In layman’s terms, people look at others actions as a source of what they should or shouldn’t do, then imitate that behavior.
Even though the term social proof didn’t appear til the 1980’s, the marketing concept dates to the mid-nineteenth century with early testimonial advertisements. But more recently, with the introduction of social media, the social proof is now ubiquitous in our lives. Social media users are constantly inundated by products and services liked, shared and commented upon by individuals in their network. These are all forms of modern social proof.
Why is social proof important to you?
A 2018 survey by Bright local showed that 84 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendations. A decision is then usually made after one to six recommendations, which may come in the form of online reviews, comments, or posts. Therefore, businesses ought to create and maintain platforms that encourage customers to share their experience with the community, and then engage with these customers by directly replying to their messages online . This two-way dialogue around client feedback will not only help project quality customer care, but in turn will help you run your business better.
The different types of social proof
In general, social proof can be broken into the following six types:
Customers: Customer social proof is when your users recommend your products, services, or business based on personal experiences with your brand.
Examples: ratings through review sites or posts on social media platforms.
Celebrities: Celebrity social proof is when an influencer or celebrity endorses your products. Might be a paid ad or endorsement of their own volition.
Examples: a tweet or Instagram post about their experience with your product or establishment
Expert: Expert social proof is when a specialist in your industry recommends your business or is associated with your brand.
Examples: An expert in your field discusses your business in a book, speech or online video.
Crowds: Also known as wisdom of the crowd, this type of social proof is the popularity or when large numbers are seen to be endorsing your brand.
Examples: long wait lines at a restaurant or millions of followers on social media platforms.
Friends: This type of social proof is when people observe activities of a friend.
Examples: You hear a friend raving about a new product they recently experienced; you see a friend post about a service on social media.
Certification: This type of social proof is typically communicated by a stamp of approval,certification or award by a high-quality, trustworthy, authoritative body in their industry.
Examples: USDA Certified Organic label or the blue check mark on Twitter
Now that we’ve discussed what social proof is, let’s take a look at ways to implement this into your marketing
How to use social proof in your marketing
1. Encouraging customers to leave a good rating
Before purchasing any product, most customers wants to know “will this work?” The best place to find answers is the reviews section . User reviews are perhaps the most common form of social proof. This is why it is important to provide customers an area to review products on your website.
Example: Many big brands such as Amazon display a rating system and customer reviews with all their products.
The number of reviews indicates the popularity of the item
The number of answered questions represent engagement and feedback
The rating/star system show the overall satisfaction with the product
All together, this creates a sense of confidence in the product, which in turn encourages customers to buy. These few lines of script to enable reviews for your website can help market the product all on its own.
Beyond the company website, you may want to consider third-party platforms that support a customer review system. Some examples are Yelp, Trip Advisor, Google, and Facebook. Depending on the service and product, it is best to register with a few of these platforms.
G/O Digital, a marketing solutions company, published a study that showed:
80 percent said they’d be more likely to purchase if they saw positive user reviews on the company’s Facebook page.
41 percent said the most important factor in engaging with a local business’ Facebook page is seeing customer reviews or ratings.
Enabling onsite reviews and being active on social review sites is a great way to take advantage of user social proof.
2. Share customer appreciation for your products or services
Another easy way to generate customer social proof is to share the @mentions or shout-outs on your social media accounts. This quickly shows the love that users have for your business.
Example: Slack, a international service for internal business communications, created a Twitter account, @SlackLoveTweets, which retweets @mentions from their users.
Is your business not as big? No need to worry! Another easy way to share customer love is to generate a unique hashtag that only pertains to your business. This hashtag will allow you track and re-post user-generated content.
Example: Herschel Supply Co. uses #Herschel. It is simple and easy to use, yet unique. The simpler the better so it’s easy for people to remember when showing their appreciation, though it’s generally best to avoid terms that are already commonly used.
Pro Tip: If your business has an Instagram account, you can re-post the content as soon as it is made available. Learn how here.
3. Re-post honorable mentions from reputable sources
Every so often you might receive acknowledgement from the press, a big brand, or a specialist in your industry. This is a great form of expert social proof. To make the most out of this, you can take the featured content and publish it on social media. If it happens to be an @mention on their account, great! Go ahead and re-post for everyone to see.
Example: Tesla earned the Best Car Award in Germany for three years in a row.
To publicize this, they tweeted a thank you note and link to the awards list. This informs their current and future customer base of their accolades.
The last sentence in the tweet also works as wisdom of the crowd because it received votes from a large sample size
4. Use Brand Ambassadors
Social media is perfect for brand ambassadors. In addition to celebrities and athletes, internet personalities, industry experts, and loyal users all make great brand ambassadors on social media. Ambassadors may display their ambassador title in the bio section, but most importantly will help promote your business by sharing their experience with your brand directly to their audience.
Example: Virus Intl is a performance apparel clothing line. They choose top performing athletes from many sports across the board to promote their athletic wear.
Each athlete has their sport and location mentioned as well as a click-thru link to their individual Instagram accounts
Collaborations like Virus Intl, paid endorsements, or natural endorsements help prove the value of your product or service to potential customers.
5. Strength in numbers
If you have a large customer base, you could mention the size of your customer base in your profile bio. It is a great example showing wisdom of the crowd Apart from the size of your customer base, here’re a few other stats you could mention:
Number of countries your company serves or your customers are in (e.g. in 100+ countries)
Number of goods sold every day, week, month, or year (e.g. X burgers sold daily)
Number of recommendations given (e.g. more than 1000 5-star ratings on Yelp)
Customers feel more comfortable participating when they see large crowds. If you have an email list or subscription, a practical application would be to mention the size of the community the potential customer would be joining. Let them know they are joining something big!
6. Collaboration with experts for a live event
Many platforms now offer live streaming such as Facebook live, Instagram TV, twitch.tv, Youtube Live or Apple podcasts. You can invite specialists for a social media event to discuss your business or product. Their positive influence and will give your audience an opportunity to learn from leaders in the industry.
Pro Tip: Ask your audience to submit questions or consider a live Q&A session
Example: The Joe Rogan Experience
Joe Rogan is an actor, comedian, and businessman.
He invites experts ranging from philosophers to rocket scientists
By engaging in conversation with so many leading figures, Joe promote his personal brand to establish his foothold in the film and entertainment industry.
7. Getting Verified
On certain platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, you can get verified and receive a blue check mark on your bio. Receiving a blue check mark in your account bio is a form of certification social proof. Depending on the social media platform it is meant to signify that you are an authoritative figure, that you are popular or influential, or that you are interesting enough to be awarded the check mark.
Example: Facebook Verified Page
In addition from gaining credibility and respect from the community, you may also gain access to new features reserved for verified accounts or Pages only.
Statista.com reports that in 2018, an estimated 1.8 billion people worldwide purchased goods online. During the same year, global e-retail sales amounted to 2.8 trillion U.S. dollars. As online sales continue to grow, customers want security. There are many ways to go about this such as: website and payment security and business accreditation. Below are a few examples of badges your company website might receive upon passing the test.
The certification is based on numerous data points, which provide reference points for comparing the criteria shoppers want to know in advance of making a purchase.
Also this hits 2 bird with 1 stone. This is a combination of expert and certification social proof.
What other ways have you been using social proof and marketing?
As we’ve seen, social proof comes in all different shapes and sizes. The 8 practices listed here are a good start, but by no means represent a comprehensive list. There are plenty of other ways businesses can utilize the concept of social proof to maximize brand value, so e would love to learn from you, too. Tell us how you have been using social proof, social media-related or otherwise, in your marketing. How well has it been working for you? Let us know in the comments.
I hear this a lot and it’s almost always wrong. Yes, we all look silly in certain hats. But balance is key to finding the most flattering hat to complete your outfit; it’s all about size. Specifically, it’s all about making sure that the visor and crown aren’t too big or too small.
Long Faces // Dad Hats + Sport Caps
Wear – Short visors, curve visors, low to mid crowns
Avoid – Tall crowns, flat visors
If you have a long face, tall hats are not very flattering – as this elongates your face even more. Work with crowns that are deep enough to cover a good portion of your forehead, this will allow to even out the length of your face.
Ryan Gosling & Kim Kardashian
Square Faces // Dad Hats + Snapbacks + Sport Caps
Wear – Curve visors, unstructured, low to high crowns
Avoid – Flat and wide visors
Square faces are characterized by an equal proportion of forehead, cheekbones and jawline. Soften your features by choosing styles that have a softer shape and have curvilinear lines. Avoid hats that are angular, this will compete with your structured face and come across too strong.
Brad Pitt & Fergie
Heart Faces // Dad Hats + Sport Caps
Wear – Curve visor, low to mid crowns
Avoid – Angled crowns, wide and flat visors
Heart faces are characterized by a wide forehead and cheekbones with a narrow jaw. To maintain attractive proportions, people with this type of face ought to avoid visors and crowns that are too large. Other than that, this face shape is pretty versatile in terms of hat selection.
Ashton Kutcher & Halle Berry
Round Faces // Snapbacks + Sports Caps
Wear – Sharp lines, structured caps, mid to high crowns, flat visors
Avoid – Unstructured caps, low crowns
If your face is relatively equal in width and length with rounded cheeks, you might have a round shaped face. Round facers tend to look best in hats that feature harder angles and higher crowns, this will balance out the roundness of the face.
Fat Joe & Hayden Panettiere
Diamond Faces // Snapbacks + Sports Caps
Wear – Mid to high crowns, structured
Avoid – Low profile crowns, unstructured
Diamond faces have a lot of width around the cheekbones and eyes but also a narrow forehead and chin. From my experience, diamond faces look best in hats that elongate the face, i.e. styles that have higher crowns.
Ryan Reynolds & Jennifer Lopez
Oval Faces // Dad Hats + Snapbacks + Sport Caps
Wear – Curve visor, flat visor. Low crown, high crown. Pretty much anything goes!
Avoid – Nothing.
Oval shaped faces is essentially the longer version of the round face. The length of your face is more than the width, while your forehead and chin stay rounded. The options are virtually limitless with the lucky people with this face shape! Most hat structures are suitable, it all comes down to personal choice.
Will Smith & Rihanna
Keep an eye out on T-shirt trends followed by Dad hat history in the coming weeks. Let us know what you think about the baseball cap face shapes in the comments below. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebookand Instagram!
Customers want their daily apparel to keep them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. After many years of research and development, manufactures and fashion designers have come back around to wool, but not just any type of wool. Specifically, merino wool. What first comes to mind is sheep’s wool, followed by the usual characteristics of itchy, scratchy, and thickness. Simply, ‘regular’ wool is not everyone’s number one choice. However, merino wool feels like fine silk against the human skin. These fibers are much finer and lightweight. This and other characteristics of wool, allow breathable and moisture managing fabric. The ability to control moisture also helps to regulate odor by preventing bacteria growth.
Even with these benefits, there are disadvantages for using fine fibers. Mainly, longevity and durability. No one wants to buy a product that has a lifespan of less than a year because that would be considered money poorly spent. To counteract this and give the consumer a product with a better lifespan, blended fabrics have quickly come to the forefront of fashion. Merino wool mixes with cotton, polyester, nylon, and many more. The important reason for blending fibers is to produce better performance. Blending fabrics can improve the characteristics that are poor in one fiber, and mix it with another type of fabric that excels in those characteristics. In the proper ratio, blended wool can combine the best features leading to a superior piece of garment.
THE OTHER HALF
At Premium Direct Imports, we are constantly sourcing for the best quality and materials. In our search for another fabric to blend with merino wool, we were led to TENCEL®. A fiber made from eucalyptus trees that is wrinkle resistant, machine washable, and eco-friendly. Quality not only comes in the form of the product, but the ease of mind knowing it uses a sustainable and renewable process. Tencel is manufacturing is a 100% organic life cycle, meaning, the raw material and chemicals are all natural and recyclable in the development process. The smooth surface and uniform fiber structure make Tencel a particularly stable fiber. This becomes evident thanks to the high resistance to pilling and tearing.
TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER
Both merino wool and Tencel are odor neutralizing, heat and moisture-regulating, as well as extra delicate against the skin. With our own ratio of both fabrics the drawbacks of durability are no longer a problem and the best characteristics are amplified. Head on over to our shop and check out our own custom Merino wool TENCEL® blend of short and long sleeve shirts or hoodies.
Keep an eye out on new releases. Comment and let us know what you think about merino wool or blended fabrics in the comments below. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebookand Instagram!
Cut out the middleman to bring down price and increase profit.
That is the straightforward, if incomplete, logic to factory direct sourcing. But when searching for answers to tough problems, such as maximizing profit, it is the simple solutions that sometimes get us into trouble.
Warren Buffet is famously quoted as saying “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” Let’s take a look at the topic of factory direct sourcing through the lens of Mr. Buffet’s guidance, to help us better understand when factory direct sourcing makes good business sense.
“Price is what you pay…”
The notion that factory pricing is lower than that quoted by trading companies requires an untenable “all else equal” assumption. We would have to ignore obvious variables like order quantity, internal operating expenses and legal costs. That would be silly.
Order quantity is usually the main factor manufacturers consider in negotiating price. Because individual buyers typically order at lower volumes compared to trading companies, factories tend to quote individual buyers higher prices. Unless the individual buyer can match the volumes of the trading company, this economic reality will reduce the potential cost savings presented by factory direct sourcing.
Next buyers must consider relevant operating expenses. Selecting and vetting a manufacturer requires expertise and time, both of which have associated costs. Communicating with manufacturers and resolving issues during and after production is equally crucial and costly. These costs are not reflected in factory direct pricing, but ought not be forgotten.
Last but not least are the costs associated with the preparation and execution of the supplier agreement, plus potential additional costs for dispute resolution. Add these expenses to the overhead required to manage the project, plus the price difference attributable to order volume, and true the price paid for factory direct sourcing becomes a bit more clear.
“…. Value is what you get”
Trading companies present additional value to their clients in the form of manufacturing alternatives, trade expertise and communication.
Individual factories have limited product offerings and generally lack an incentive to direct you to alternative manufacturers should your job require a product or feature they themselves cannot provide. Instead, factories often persuade buyers to fit their needs to the factory’s capabilities. In contrast, trading companies have relationships with many manufacturers and are incentivized to match the buyer to the most suitable supplier.
As their name suggests, trading companies are built for trade. Freight forwarding, export/import regulations and proper licensing are areas where both factories and buyers tend to lack the infrastructure necessary to get the products delivered smoothly. In contrast, trading companies have streamlined these processes.
Another massive advantage, one which is often overlooked, is the value trading companies offer in the form of communication. To effectively minimize errors, buyers ought to communicate with suppliers in their language. But beyond that, fluency in the terminology specific to both product and process are crucial in ensuring all technical aspects of the job are properly managed.
Do the Calculation
When deciding whether to source directly from a factory or through a trading company, we recommend you ask the following questions:
Are our volumes large enough to secure good pricing? Have we accurately assessed related operating and legal expenses? Do we have alternative manufacturing options should we require it? Can we get the product imported safely and securely? Are we capable of communicating effectively with the manufacturer?
If you’ve answered “no” to one or more of the questions above, you may want to consider working with PDI.
What makes hat customization fun? – The challenge of finding the perfect shape, the right fabrics, the accoutrements that finish the look, and the joy of seeing the outcome – all this can be stressful, however if done correctly the results are worth the smile =)
By following the latest hat designs, we can cater to your hat needs and wants. Ahead, you can see what trends you can count on to bring out your creative side and making customizing fun!
Which hat shapes and styles are trending?
Elements of the 90s continues throughout 2019, the old school Dad Hatcontinues to run supreme. Tech and performance fabrics can be implemented into this vintage style for a modern take. Alternatively, bright colors with sequins and glitter can give a hint of the 80s.
Flat bills such as camp caps and foam truckers remain popular especially for clients targeting younger demographics within the streetwear and extreme sports segments. Unexpectedly, unstructured 5 panel snapbacks are making a comeback.
2018 was the rage of Dad hats embellished with whimsical small icons everywhere. Materials using iridescent, translucent, or neon properties are a no no.
What kind of fabrics and colors are popular for caps?
As humans we are responsible for both polluting and saving the Earth. Sustainable fabrics are being discovered every day, because of this they are now appearing in our hats and clothes. Expect to see fabrics with interesting textures and patterns that mimic the environment as well.
Inspired by Mother Nature, earth tones seen in water, stone, and foliage are coming into trend; accented with bright colors influenced by the 80s. Distressed rips, frayed edges, washed out faded looks will be seen everywhere.
Desert inspired colors and patterns: such as khaki, muted orange, olive, desert/jungle camo.
How to design for active lifestyle / fitness?
Tech and performance fabrics represent a long term trend that remains strong heading into 2019. Sweat absorbing, moisture wicking, antimicrobial, anti-odor, anti-UV are just a few features active consumers are increasingly demanding. Perforated fabric for extra air flow and reflective print for safe training at night remain popular as well.
Bright colors with bold, geometric, stripe, and distressed patterns will be popular. With oversized logos and texts to accompany these loud colors. Expect to see tone on tone designs too!
Neutral colors such as black, white, and grey accented with neon colors. Ombre patterns with motivational taglines are seen commonly paired with simple graphics.
What is trending in the outdoor market?
Low profile 6 panel continues to be strong this year, however 5 panel trucker hats and foam trucker hats are becoming a major influence as well. These hats will be paired with nature imagery patterns and earthy colors such as green, grey, and brown with an accent of coral (2019 Pantone color of the year). Influenced by hunting season, Mossy Oak camouflage will come into play.
Lightweight and packable styles, like foldable visors will continue to be popular attributes for those who like adventures.
Digital camo and generic camo combined with muted colors found in nature with outdoor taglines and single line illustration logos.
Which types of embellishments & logos should I choose?
Nature elements like scenery, animals, nature patterns, flowers combined with distressed looks and fabrics. Oversized logos and enlarged texts.
Branded leather, reflective accents, silicone patches, zippers teamed up with unique back closures.
Small decoration elements of metal accents or prints on visors.
Keep an eye out on hat styles for every face shape followed by T-shirt trends in the coming weeks. Let us know what you think about the baseball cap trends in the comments below. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebookand Instagram!