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The T-Shirt craze

Themed T-shirts are all the rage at camp. In addition to the one manager Jeff Banister had printed for the team with an "every second counts" kind of message, Jonathan Lucroy and catching instructor Hector Ortiz had shirts made for all the catchers in camp with a Wolfpack logo on the front and a "Here to Serve" motto on the back. 

"We are a brotherhood, a fraternity, which is where the wolfpack logo comes from," Lucroy said. "And ultimately, a catcher is here to serve the pitchers."

http://sportsday.dallasnews.com/texas-rangers/rangers/2017/02/21/yu-darvish-will-soon-take-time-story-behind-wolfpack-t-shirts-rangers-spring-training

Capsule Collection Weds High Fashion With World Cup Spirit

In a Nutshell

*Fashion designers created looks for hoodies and T-Shirts to represent nations participating in the 2018 World Cup.

*Part of the proceeds benefit a children's charity.

Some mega popular international footballers – soccer players to us Yanks – are known to translate their sporting stardom into being fashion icons off the pitch. Just think of the ever Instagramable David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo. Given that, the new Soccer Couture collection of printed apparel tied to the 2018 World Cup makes a lot of sense.

The capsule collection is the fruit of a partnership between online fashion retailer Yoox and SEPP, a publication covering soccer/fashion. The pair enlisted fashion designers to create looks to embellish T-Shirts and sweatshirts. Each graphic represents something about the spirit of a nation whose national football team is participating in the World Cup, the international tournament being played now into July. Participating fashionistas include Vivienne Westwood, Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida, and Esteban Cortazar.

Hearteningly, part of the proceeds from sales of the #YOOXSOCCERCOUTURE capsule collection are being donated to Stars for Children, a charitable foundation founded in 2015 by Russian soccer player Alexander Kerzhakov to support kids in need and help them get involved in sports.

Anyway, without further ado, here are a few samples from the collection:

This design from Isolda supports Brazil – the nation that's won the World Cup more than any other (five times). Designers intend the plants and wildlife in the print, which are native to Brazil, to capture the essence of a big multicultural country that is unified by its love of soccer.

Created by Kolor, this design displays the famous Rising Sun of the Japanese flag. Designers said the idea is to show that passion for soccer can connect people, encouraging unity that helps them to become one – like a single rising sun.

This design from Nio Far x Mwami represents Senegal – sadly now eliminated from the tourney. Still, it's a great design, using the symmetry and position of the Senegal lion as a nod to traditional African masks.

Marques'Almeida came up with this creation that takes the brand's penchant for stripes and divvies the concept up into abstract shapes in the striped colors of Portugal's flag.

Let Freedom Ring with Vintage Americana Clothing

In a Nutshell

*Retro patriotic styles have an enduring appeal.

*Don't limit yourself to Independence Day. There are plenty of opportunities year-round to pitch this trend.

A sea of people in red, white and blue emerge each year to celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks and festivities. But stars and stripes – particularly with a faded, distressed look – have an unflagging, year-round appeal.

Classic Americana "never goes out of style because it's homegrown and therefore touches on the nostalgic aspect of the unique American spirit," according to the Creative Market blog.

Alternative Apparel (asi/34850) recently released its Americana-inspired apparel line that features the classic red, white and blue in vintage style. The company used a "fabric first" approach to ensure soft, simple and eco-friendly apparel.

"Our Americana collection is the perfect apparel for any [Fourth of July] celebration," says Kevin Miles, director of sales operations for Alternative Apparel. "And beyond our favorite star-studded holiday, the vintage look of these styles is classic and timeless. The elevated stars-and-stripes prints create neutral design elements as a backdrop for embellishment."

Alternative Apparel's Americana collection includes baseball tees, ringer T-shirts, sweatshirts and tank tops.

To achieve a Vintage Americana look, designers typically use dusty reds, dirty whites and faded blues. The perfect balance of all three ensures no color overpowers another. Plus, it's more subtle and retro than the bright and vibrant flag motifs typically deployed for the Fourth of July. Think of any design or aesthetic that brings you back to the good old days. Vintage Americana reflects classic cars, 1970s-era John Travolta films and cozy diners from the 1950s.

Vintage Americana has an enduring patriotic feeling, which thrives despite the challenges the U.S. currently faces, according to Lea Robinson, vice president of sales and marketing for Staton Corporate and Casual (asi/89380). "It's a feeling that never goes away, whereas [saturated red, white and blue looks] feel like we are celebrating more in the moment."

The vintage Americana trend has broad appeal across party lines and demographics. After all, "Vintage is ageless," Robinson says.

"It's really the convergence of three well-established trends — the popularity of classic styles like baseball tees and ringer tees, the appeal of the vintage look and feel, and the drive toward authentic brands," Miles says. "It also connects to the idea of sustainability and durability."

Vantage Apparel (asi/93390) has also been capitalizing on the retail trend by applying vintage design to its merchandise. Even the cover page of this year's Vantage Apparel catalog is rendered in red, white and blue.

"Our design team spent a lot of time researching trends and putting together different ideas for this year's merchandise," says Gina Barreca, director of marketing for Vantage. "We decided on something that would show different colors and patterns that would work for various companies. The colors red, white and blue were up there and we saw an opportunity to go beyond the basic idea."

The Vansport Zen Pullover (3450 men's, 3451 women's) from Vantage Apparel

A screen print with a vintage Americana feel by Vantage Apparel.

This Gildan Fleece Hoodie with Custom Color Draw Cord features decoration with a vintage Americana feel.

Vantage Apparel has also explored the idea of adding the stars and stripes pattern within the fill of a logo to give it a patriotic look. Even clients that have strict logo guidelines have options: "Adding the company established date to a logo or using a small flag as a second placement are easy ways to put a heritage spin to apparel," Barreca says.

The company also recommends screen printing with soft-hand inks and distressed art filters to achieve the vintage and nostalgic aspect of the Americana theme. Soft cotton-rib appliqué also fits with the vintage Americana look.

For J. America (asi/62977), vintage styles have been surfacing in the past few years. Steve Zimmerman, vice president of sales, says that vintage designs continue to be a staple of the company's assortment, because "they are timeless." J. America recently introduced vintage Americana to its Top of the World headwear collection, by adding a vintage wash to the fabric.

Vintage Americana evokes a classic, nostalgic and retro feeling in the wearer. Showing off samples in that style will help you get that message across to clients, Miles says. "Create a trend sheet that captures vintage Americana styles from runways to retail displays," he suggests.

Though vintage Americana is a perfect fit for Independence Day, there's no need to retire the style after the fireworks fizzle and the picnics peter out. Opportunities to use the retro motif abound, suppliers say.

"Our country has gotten very patriotic the last couple of decades, not that we hadn't been prior to then," Zimmerman says. "Between our national holidays, sporting events, the agriculture market and what now seems to be endless election campaigning across the country, there are numerous opportunities for distributors and decorators to work with end users on Americana themes year round."

J. America introduced vintage Americana styling to its headwear collection.

Techdirt Promotional Products Based On Declassified NSA Security Posters

Techdirt is an influential blog that delivers keen insights into technology's legal challenges and related business and economic policy issues.

The Techdirt team is also pretty savvy when it comes to spotting an opportunity for clever promotional products that, in their way, augment the blog's brand and help it to raise funds to support its mission.

Case-in-point: Government Attic recently filed a Freedom of Information Request that resulted in the release of posters the National Security Agency (NSA) made in the 1950s and 60s to remind employees about security. After Techdirt got feedback about the posters, they decided to reproduce the prints on T-Shirts, hooded sweatshirts and coffee mugs. The branded merchandise has been on offer in the blog's swag store on Teespring. All profits from sales of the merch support Techdirt's ongoing reporting on copyright, technology and innovation.

A Techdirt T-Shirt based on an old NSA security poster. See this print on a mug and hoodie here.

The use of once classified information as swag is a nice match for the Techdirt brand. After all, the blog is focused on journalistic digging – on delving deep to uncover the real roots of important issues at the intersection of technology, business and related economics.

Also, quite honestly, the merch is cool in a retro way that we dig. Check out a few examples below.

See this print on a T-Shirt and hoodie here.

See this print on a T-Shirt and mug here.

See this print on a T-Shirt and hoodie here.

See this print on a hoodie and mug here.

Promotional Products Part of Historic TrumpKim Summit

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean "Supreme Leader" Kim Jong-un are set to engage in historic face-to-face talks regarding possible nuclear disarmament of North Korea in Singapore. While the potential geopolitical implications are beyond our humble scope, we thought we'd mention this: There are promotional products tied to the summit – perhaps not a surprise given the global interest in the event.

The Straits Times, an English language broadsheet newspaper based in Singapore, had the below prefilled, single-use water bottle on offer:

At least some folks were eager to get their hands on summit swag:

Others disparaged The Straits Times summit-branded merchandise:

Additionally, Los Angeles Times reported that, on the ground in Singapore, there were cardboard fans and coffee cups that showed depictions of Trump and Kim. BBC Asia Bureau Chief Imelda Flattery noted that the summit's media center had summit-branded coffee cups:

Back in May, in anticipation of an earlier round of proposed talks between Trump and Kim that were cancelled, the White House Communications Agency was selling a coin – or medallion since it has no currency value. It was to commemorate the meeting:

It appears there will be more coins/medallions. The White House Gift Shop was making new commemorative coins available for pre-order as of Monday. The gift shop website said images of the first coin – apparently there will be another as well for a series of three -- would be released on Tuesday June 12th. Coins were expected to begin shipping Aug. 1.

Beyond the merch, there's a bit of a surreal atmosphere surrounding the summit between two of the world's most controversial leaders. For example, people were lining up in Singapore to take pictures with Kim and Trump impersonators. Pics reportedly cost $11.

Another element kicking the "What the heck?" factor of the summit into overdrive was the fact that Dennis Rodman, the eccentric former NBA star, was traveling to Singapore. Rodman says he is a friend of Trump and Kim. He was going to Singapore as part of a promotional push for a digital currency for the cannabis industry. While certainly not expected to figure in the talks, Rodman was offering to be a facilitator for Trump and Kim:

Los Angeles Times reported that about 2,500 members of the media have registered for the summit. That's the largest contingent ever hosted in Singapore, according to The Straits Times.

Promotional Products Were Everywhere At Wizard World Comic Con

From free swag to swanky branded merchandise, Wizard World Comic Con Philadelphia abounded with promotional products. There was everything from official logoed event gear for purchase, to giveaways from a variety of vendors and exhibitors, including household name brands like Xfinity and 5-hour Energy.

Held Thursday through Sunday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, the pop culture event featured talented comic book artists, unique toys and comics for sale, in-person autograph signings from celebrities such as Sebastian Stan, Elijah Wood, Jason Momoa, Sean Astin, and Henry Winkler, and much more. I swung by to check out the merch on offer (tough gig, I know). Here's what I found…and a saber fight…keep scrolling...

First up, official Wizard World Comic Con branded merchandise! As you can see in these first four photos, wearables, totes, drawstring backpacks and lanyards were part of the mix.

DKMS is a nonprofit that helps blood cancer patients find matching donors. To get Comic Con attendees engaged with its mission, the group came up with what the best giveaway I spotted from an exhibitor: This branded cape. It's a perfect product to connect with the superhero-loving Comic Con crowd. DKMS was also giving out the below earbuds in a branded clear plastic slide-open pouch.

Xfinity was promoting HBO GO with the above hat, which attendees were snapping up. Xfinity, which offers cable, internet, telephone and wireless services, also co-branded with Wizard World on the below freebie tote. Neat aside: Xfinity had screenprinters creating totes on the spot.

You could get these 5-hour Energy sunglasses by participating in a basketball shootout game at 5-hour's tent booth, which had a real-world game set similar to this for the hoops fun.

A super friendly woman at The Lasik Vision Institute table asked me if I was interested in Lasik surgery. I felt bad telling her not really, but she was still nice enough to give me this credit card holder to slap on the back of my phone.

Lots of parents attend Wizard World Comic Con with their kids. It makes sense then for a charter school like Commonwealth Charter Academy to promote at the event. As part of the effort, Commonwealth was handing out free pens, drawstring totes, dog-shaped stress toys, and info cards with a friendly dog mascot.

Army recruiters had a table at the event, too. The guys were very friendly and insisted I take this water bottle and keychain. I was happy to oblige.

A fair share of movie promoting was going on, and there were various types of swag to support the hype-push. I scored these Teen Titans buttons at a booth after playing a little game. To get the buttons – or potentially other movie-themed freebies – you spun a game wheel. You got whatever swag item the wheel fell still upon.

TV station PHL17 was promoting itself. By liking the station on Facebook, you were entered for a chance to win one of these fun show shirts, I was told.

Well, T-Mobile wasn't about to let itself be missed, was it?

Dudes from The Saber Legion, an international saber combat organization as it were, had quite the duel. I didn't record to the end because it went on a bit (sorry), but the fellow in all black emerged victorious (I'm pretty sure).

Trend Alert: Clear Tote Bags

Clear tote bags are the rage of the runways – which means the trend could soon be sweeping the promotional products industry too.

While the roots of clear tote bags might be utilitarian, some high fashion labels have suddenly fell in love with them, creating astoundingly expensive offerings in the category. The Prada tote below is a great example of the trend. It was retailing online at Nordstrom recently for $1,040 before selling out.

Made in Italy from PVC, the transparent tote features Prada's black logo print across the front and a white canvas trim. In a little nod to privacy, the push-stud top closure reveals a detachable zip-fastening pouch for storing essentials out of sight.

Meanwhile, this transparent Kara PVC Pinch Tote is another example of transparency couture. It retails for $325 at ssense.com – hardly even the cost of a lunchtime appetizer for your average Manhattan billionaire.

For those of us sitting in the proletarian seats, though, there's good news. You can still get in on the namebrand clear tote trend for a relatively reasonable price. Urban Outfitters offers this tote for $25.

Interestingly, the high-fashion transparent trend extends beyond totes into other bag categories, including reusable shopping bags. The bag below is an exclusive collaboration between Voo Store and Belgian fashion designer Raf Simons. Available for about $180, the bag includes a dustbag that can also be used as an inner compartment.

Given the popularity of clear bags in fashion circles, promotional product distributors should anticipate that demand from clients in the promo space will increase, too. And who knows – the trend could proliferate well beyond bags altogether, if this tweet from Prada is a clue.

Lego Lovers Crowded Expo Center for Merch, Memories

Lego enthusiasts of all ages crowded into the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA, on April 21 and 22 to enjoy Brick Fest Live!, which bills itself as the #1 Lego event in the U.S. The show featured feats of artistry and engineering, including detailed cityscapes, working miniature rollercoasters, a life-size statue of Darth Vader and a lovingly rendered replica of Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night" – all crafted from the colorful plastic bricks that have been a toy chest necessity for decades.

The event was also an opportunity for vendors to peddle Lego-themed merch, from vintage building sets to apparel and accessories decorated with actual Legos. At the official Brick Fest Live! Booth, attendees could purchase a $20 #BrickSwag box, which included a T-shirt, flashlight keychain and a mystery minifigure. Other booths were selling caps modified with Lego baseplates, allowing wearers to customize to their heart's content. Several entrepreneurs had crafted hair clips, bracelets, earrings and bow ties out of Legos. There were even brick-shaped pillows and molded chocolate lollipops.

The Pennsylvania Distance Learning Charter School also set up a booth at the expo to share information about its virtual summer camps. To help build goodwill and boost name recognition, the school was giving away a slew of promotional products. Children could spin a wheel, and receive a branded foam stress brick, backpack, temporary tattoo, chip clip or other prize.

Brick Fest Live! heads next to New York City in July, then stops in Pasadena, CA, in August and Houston in October. Check out some of the highlights from the Philadelphia show below.













Hawaii Bans Certain Types of Sunscreens

Hawaii's state legislature has passed a bill that bans sunscreens containing chemicals that can reportedly damage coral reefs – a new regulation that could impact sales of branded sunscreen.

Senate Bill 2571, passed on Tuesday, prevents the sale and distribution of sunscreen that has oxybenzone and octinoxate, unless prescribed by a licensed healthcare provider. If Governor David Ige signs the legislation into law, the prohibition would take effect Jan. 1, 2021.

Should the ban become law, promo distributors and suppliers could no longer provide sunscreen containing the blacklisted chemicals in the Aloha State. What's more, the Hawaiian ban could resonate to the U.S. mainland, possibly influencing some would-be buyers of branded sunscreen to seek natural options that are perceived as better for the environment – or to avoid purchasing sunscreen altogether in fear their brand will be perceived as a polluter.

Found in popular sunscreen brands like Coppertone and Hawaiian Tropic, oxybenzone and octinoxate contribute to coral bleaching, studies show. For example, a recent study from the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology found that chemicals in sunscreen kill coral and result in DNA damage in larval and adult stage coral. The impact on DNA limits coral's ability to grow and develop healthily. Coral bleaching was reportedly a cause behind widespread destruction of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. According to researchers, about 14,000 tons of sunscreen glop onto coral reefs annually. Sunscreen concentrations were found to be among the highest in the world on the beaches of Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Certain environmental organizations praised legislators for passing the bill.

"Hawaii's reefs have been slowly dying over the past 20 years, and that death spiral has been accelerating with the impact of El Niño-induced mass bleaching events and increased local pollution impacts from both tourism and development," Craig Downs, the executive director of the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, told The New York Times. "Everyone has come together to support this legislation, from local nurses and doctors, to resorts and airlines, as well as the entrepreneurial spirit of new sunscreen companies to supply reef-safer products."

Of course, the ban had opponents, too. Traditional sunscreen manufacturers pointed out that the chemicals are FDA-approved and important ingredients for protecting people from skin cancer. Ban opponents also included the Hawaii Medical Association. The association expressed worry that the prohibition could encourage people to reduce the degree to which they wear sunscreen – a concern given the heightened risk for skin cancer that comes with not using sunscreen.

Forbes reports that mounting public pushback against sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate has opened the door for a niche market focused on natural sunscreens made in Hawaii. "Tourists and locals on the islands can find Kōkua Sun Care Hawaiian Natural Zinc Sunscreen, Mama Kuleana Reef, and the mainland All Good products," wrote Geologist Trevor Nace for Forbes. Of course, chemicals found in sunscreens are far from the only pollutant causing problems for coral reefs. Ocean warming, agricultural runoff and sewage dumping also are weakening and killing reefs, research shows.

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