museums&MORE Summer 2017
Dressed to a Tee By Zeke Jennings

We check in with several customizable distributors to find out what's trending in name-dropped shirts and hats, as well as for pets
1. This soft-washed selection from Capsmith has a mesh back and are a perfect fit for ladies. 2. Name Drops reminds us not to forget our four-legged friends when it comes to customizable shirts. 3. Lighter shades of blue are hot in apparel these days, like this selection from Popularity Products. 4. The Home T offers a variety of styles for every state.

When it comes to name-dropped merchandise, one would be hard-pressed to find more tried-and-true sellers than caps, T-shirts and sweatshirts. The category is a cornerstone for many gift shops in destination locations.

Whether it is the name of your facility, resort or park, or the city or state it’s located in, there is no better way for customers to show off they visited it than to wear the name across their chest or atop their head.

We checked in with representatives from Capsmith, Name Drops and Popularity Products to see what’s trending.

T-shirts and sweatshirts

MM: Are you seeing any tones or colors rising in popularity?

Jack Tebele, Popularity Products: We mostly focus on women’s apparel. Last season, we did very well with eggplant and teal. So far this year, sky blue and Woodrose are picking up steam.

MM: Do trends vary much by region?

JT: Not really for my line. I try to keep all my customers with the hottest colors, regardless of location. I believe if the goods are displayed correctly and the staff is educated, you can change the tastes of consumers.

MM: What question do you hear most from retailers?

JT: They want to know what’s hot right now. I do my best to give them an honest answer.

MM: Is there anything else you’re noticing in the market?

JT: I think there is a big change happening with imported goods, and domestic production has been picking up steam, especially with apparel. That might be a good point for another story.


MM: As far as colors, what’s hot and what’s not?

Dan Smith, Capsmith: Pastels are still in trend, especially mint and melon for women. Pastels add an excellent vivid color to souvenir and gift stores. There’s been a decrease in popularity with pink and neon colors. For men, we have been returning to more classic and traditional looks, with a focus on textures and patches. Earth tone colors are popular, and our oilcloth look has remained popular for the past few years. On average, we recommend (a store carry) a minimum of three or four colors per style to really cater to different tastes.

MM: What’s selling as far as design styles?

DS: Custom and unique patterns are very popular right now. Quilting patterns, where you combine several different patterns in a quilt form, are going to be huge this coming season. For men’s styles, we have noticed tweeds making a comeback, along with pinstripes and oilcloth.

MM: Do trends vary much by region with custom hats? 

DS: For souvenir customers, most of it depends on the location of our buyers. Most variations happen with the icons and theming of the namedrops. We always design various options with different geographical icon themes so all of our customers can customize to match their needs. For example, in the Northeast we use whales, lobsters and moose. In the Southeast, we use turtles, starfish, shells, etc. Midwest we use horses, deer and in the Northwest, buffaloes and more.

MM: What question to you hear most from retailers?

DS: “What is your best seller?” We look at our customer’s location, past purchasing history and our one-on-one connection with them to answer the question. We analyze what styles have been strong contenders during the season and offer ideas for cap colors and embroidery choices that would suit their namedrop. We also suggest any icons used previously.

MM: Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

DS: We pride ourselves on our in-house art and production staff. We have five in-house graphic artists constantly designing and creating while keeping a close eye on all trends and fashions. We have two in-house embroidery digitizers, not just placing icons on headwear, but forming and contouring the threads to form textures within the design. We are direct importers and distributors of USA-made headwear with licensed products, such as U.S. Military, Sturgis, collegiate and more.


Don’t forget about stylish garb for our four-legged friends. Jeanne Tripi, the retail market manager for Name Drops, said pet fashion has its own trends.

“With a nod toward the fashion industry, pet apparel is taking part in the massive athleisure trend in the form of tees, jerseys, and hoodies,” Tripi said. “Color basics like red, blue, and grey are top sellers especially, when paired with witty quips or design graphics relating to a visitor’s experience.”

Zeke Jennings

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