It was a smaller show than in a typical year, but exhibitors at the Impressions Expo (formerly ISS) in Atlantic City say they were happy to be out and about, connecting with potential customers and reuniting with old friends.
“The crowd is amazing. There are a lot of buyers,” said Paul Zingone of Vastex International, a Bethlehem, PA-based apparel-decorating equipment company. Zingone and his colleagues were on the show floor giving demonstrations of Vastex’s screen-printing presses and conveyor dryers.
Running from Aug. 26 to 28 at the Atlantic City Convention Center, the expo incorporated dozens of exhibitors, from apparel suppliers to software developers to equipment and decorating-supply manufacturers. There was also a full slate of educational content for garment decorators at all stages.
One of the biggest apparel trends at the expo was an enduring one: tie-dye. There were tie-dyed caps, hoodies, T-shirts, shorts and more offered by a slew of suppliers. The continued prevalence of tie-dye makes sense, said David Cunningham, account manager of Dyenomite Apparel (asi/51185), because of how much variation there can be in patterns and colors with tie-dye. “It’s been wild,” he said of the ongoing tie-dye craze. “We’ve had to increase our capacity.”
Right now, non-spiral tie-dye designs are particularly hot, according to Cunningham. He pointed to Dyenomite’s Dream tees, which are dyed in a cloudy pattern with pastel colors on T-shirts made of a soft fabric blend. The pastel shade and non-distracting dye pattern make it very easy to decorate as well. “We can’t keep this in stock,” Cunningham said. “They fly off the shelves.”
Another trend was apparel textured with a quilted pattern. Boxercraft (asi/41325) was showing off a quilted pullover sweatshirt (R08) made of 60/40 cotton/polyester jersey with a 100% polyester fill and elbow patches. Augusta Sportswear (asi/37461) showed a lightweight puffer jacket and vest with quilting.
When it comes to sought-after colors, many buyers are looking for a more muted palette, according to Danielle Lavin of Extreme Imprint Inc., a wholesale supplier of Siser heat transfer vinyl. Lavin said earth and flesh-tone vinyl have been trending.
Following trends is fine, of course, but the bigger issue is availability of stock – a particular challenge given the supply chain issues the promo industry has been facing. Michael Reisbaum, vice president of Top 40 supplier Blue Generation (asi/40653), put it succinctly: “Anything in stock is trending.”
He recommends that distributors and decorators steer their clientele toward suppliers’ core products in basic colors to ensure that stock is available. Blue Generation’s Avenger polo (BG7600) is a good example of one such product, he said.
Blue Generation, Reisbaum noted, is in a better position than some suppliers because it’s “completely vertical” and can thus control its supply chain. “We’re OK now,” he said. He expects the promo industry as a whole will see its inventory resolve by the first quarter of next year.
“Demand is so good,” Reisbaum said. “The rebound is very real.”