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Wearables Business

towel tutorial & robe rules

towel tutorial & robe rules – questiona and answers regarding towels and robes as promotional items

Like many apparel items in the wearables universe, towels and robes can easily cover the gamut of demand. In both of these related categories you’ll find the entry-level, purely promotional offerings that serve the needs of heavy-traffic giveaways, and you’ll also find high-end, luxurious offerings that serve the executive gift or travel-award criteria so often called for.

Opportunity abounds.

To help our readers wrap themselves in at least the knowledge necessary to soak up some towels and robes sales, Wearables Business asked a number of towel and robe suppliers to answer a series of questions concerning these important promotional offerings.

towels

ANSWERS FROM PAUL MATSIL, VICE PRESIDENT, TERRY COLLECTION OF FT. LAUDERDALE, FLA.

Q: What distinguishes a price-point towel from a luxury towel?

A: Price-point towels are usually terry loop construction, single-ply whereas better towels are usually two-ply terry or terry velour. Two-ply indicates two yarns twisted together so that when the loops are sheared a fine, smooth and soft velour finish is created. To distinguish a better towel even more a dobby hem is added; this is a thicker hem with a pattern woven into it making it a fancier, more expensive feature.

Q: Please tell us about an interesting promotional products program your towels have been a part of, including any challenges involved or key promotional accomplishments.

A: A soft drink company is using our beach towel for two purposes at one time. It’s used as a banner in some of their retail-customer stores to attract attention. The towel is also available for customers to purchase for a nominal fee or is given away to some of the retailers for their use. The soft drink company is getting twice as much bang for the buck from one item.

Q: What is the preferred decorating method for towels, and what are some innovative options?

A: Screenprinting is the preferred method of decoration. It provides for the largest logo exposure area and the most reasonable pricing. Embroidery would be the next option, which is primarily used on high-end golf and beach towels. Other options include adding a pocket or something to tie the towel once it’s rolled up.

Q: What are some of the key end-user markets for towels?

A: Honestly, it’s difficult to name just a few because the end-use market is huge. One of the biggest would be golf; many companies have golf outings where they give away towels as an amenity. It’s a terrific item that all golfers are happy to get and will certainly use. Sports teams at all levels, stadiums and arenas are another huge market. Inexpensive fan towels are handed out in huge numbers at many sporting events, whether it is at the professional level, collegiate or high school. The promotional-weight beach towel is also used in big numbers for the same venues. Then there’s the corporate market where beach towels, in all qualities, are used for corporate events, meetings and gifts.

ANSWERS FROM KEVIN NORD, VICE PRESIDENT, TOWELS ETC. OF CHESWICK, PA.

Q: What distinguishes a price point towel from a luxury towel?

A: In towels, the weight is the biggest factor in determining the price. An example: When we are selling a 13-lb. towel that means that 12 individual towels stacked on top of one another weighs 13 lbs. Therefore, when selling towels a 20-lb. towel would be considered much more luxurious than a 7-lb. towel. There are other factors as well, such as velour, terry loop, and ring spun, but I would consider weight the biggest factor.

Some features that distinguish a towel include velour fabric, where a machine will shear the threads on the towel when processing the towel to get that soft velour feel; dobby hem, where that is a type of weave in the towel; and ring spun, a type of weave in the towel that gives it a soft feel – you have various looms when producing towels and ring spun is variation that is woven from the looms.

Q: What is the preferred decorating method for towels, and what are some innovative options?

A: We have currently introduced “flex tran” to our towels. It is a 3-D stamp that is put on a towel. The lettering is raised and makes for a unique look.

ANSWERS FROM ASHLEY CHADOWITZ, A PRINCIPAL WITH PERTH AMBOY, N.J.-BASED MONARCH ROBE AND TOWEL CO.

Q: What distinguishes a price-point towel from a luxury towel?

A: Luxury towels are heavier, softer, and usually made of twisted loop (two strands of cotton per loop).

Q: Please tell us about an interesting promotional products program your towels have been a part of, including any challenges involved or key promotional accomplishments.

A: Our bath sheets are often used by promotional groups that sell swim teams. We keep several colors in stock, they embroider beautifully and are big enough to be used throughout the often long meets.

ANSWERS FROM MURRAY SIEGEL WITH TOWEL SPECIALTIES IN BALTIMORE

Q: What distinguishes a price-point towel from a luxury towel?

A: In our towels, it’s a few things. Our white towels are optically brightened, which creates a “whiter than white” look so screenprinted or embroidered logos “pop” off the decorated surface. For most of our towels, we offer a high-quality version and then a “step-up” version as well. For example, in our highest-quality Premiere Collection, the towels are sheared two times, which gets rid of imperfections and yields a softer, more plush finish. The dobby end hem and sewn side-seams also speak to quality.

Q: What is the preferred decorating method for towels, and what are some innovative options?

A: Our customers opt for either screenprinted or embroidered towels. Most customers want their beach towels screenprinted since we can print such a large image; Our Mega Print area is up to 32″x 54″. Many of our customers like to make the ultimate statement with four-color process screenprinting, which turns beach towels into highly aesthetic miniature billboards. Towel Specialties also has a line of nine fiber reactive stock designs, each with a large imprint area where customers can have their logos screenprinted. We also offer options to our customers so they may have a tote bag or pocket sewn to the beach towel.

For our golf towels, customers may now purchase their towels with a grommet and carabiner hook. The carabiner hook option provides a classy, sturdy clip that is certain to last for a long time.

Q: What are some of the key end-user markets for towels?

A: Food and beverage companies, financial institutions, media (radio, TV/cable), consumer goods (beauty products, automobiles, etc.), and telecommunications, to name a few.

Q: What is the preferred decorating method for towels?

A: Embroidery, jacquard, fiber reactive printing.

ANSWERS FROM CLYDE HARR, SALES MANAGER OF BARABOO, WIS.-BASED McARTHUR PROFESSIONAL

Q: What distinguishes a price-point towel from a luxury towel? Explain such things as a dobby hem, and velour fabric, and other “bell-and-whistle” features that may distinguish a towel.

A: Size, weight/dz, two-ply construction.

Q: Please tell us about an interesting promotional products program your towels have been a part of, including any challenges involved or key promotional accomplishments.

A: Sports in-stadium promotions.

Q: What is the preferred decorating method for towels, and what are some innovative options?

A: (For) bath and beach (towels): screenprinting. Golf and sport (towels): transfer prints and embroidery.

Q: What are some of the key end-user markets for towels?

A: Golf, in-stadium promotions, rally and fund-raising, bowling, promotional products markets.

robes

ANSWERS FROM PAUL MATSIL, VICE PRESIDENT, TERRY COLLECTION

Q: Tell us the difference (fabric, construction, features, etc.) between price-point and high-end robes.

A: Typically it is the fabric weight and body style that makes the difference between a moderate style and a high-end garment. A heavier weight fabric will be more expensive than a lighter-weight piece of goods, and a shawl collar style with roll-up cuffs would be more expensive than a kimono. There is also a difference in quality depending on the country of origin. A garment made in Brazil or Turkey is usually a better garment than one made in India or Pakistan. Most likely it is because of the quality of the fabric and not necessarily the sewing construction.

The fabric weight is probably the most sensitive area in the robe market, specifically in terry cloth and terry velour products. Many times people are not comparing apples to apples and I’ll explain. There are different ways of quoting the weights of the fabric used in making a garment. The most accurate is grams per square meter, which should be converted to ounces per square yard. However, some play with the conversions and are quoting the weight as ounces per square meter and not per square yard. Sometimes weights are quoted as ounces per linear yard. All of these are probably accurate but not necessarily fair in quoting.

Q: Tell us about some innovative programs have your robes been a part of.

A: One particular program was done with a casino. They used a high-end terry velour kimono, embroidered with their logo, to attract visitors to the casino. They advertised giving a robe free to the first 2,000 to 3,000 visitors each day for a period of two weeks. The results were phenomenal. They had people lined up every day to get in.

Q: Tell us about decorating options.

A: Embroidery is the decoration of choice because it is most feasible and ultimately looks the best. A viable option to embroidery is an embroidered patch, which is then pressed onto the garment. The quality of the patches is excellent and they apply easily, plus you don’t have the rough stitching on the inside of the garment, just the terry fabric.

Screenprinting can be done but only before the garment is sewn together. This is not done very often because there aren’t too many robes made in this country anymore.

Q: Are robes generally one-size-fits-all, or are there men’s and women’s sizes?

A: Most styles are one-size, especially in this industry where they are being given away and not purchased. That is why the kimono styling is more appealing; it suits the unisex population better because of the off-the-shoulder fit and three-quarter length sleeves. The only place I see sized garments are in stores carrying better merchandise and in the women’s department of most department stores. Women tend to like a garment more suited for their individual body size.

Q: What are some of the key end-user markets for robes?

A: Casinos are a very consistent market. There is rarely a year that goes by where we don’t get some orders for casinos. The hotel market is an obvious good market. Although there are companies that specialize in this market, there is still opportunity with gift shops and the event planners for the properties. The travel industry is also a good market for the same reasons; robes are a great gift to welcome new guests.

Something else to keep in mind is that a robe is not something most people will buy for themselves like shirts, jackets, hats, etc. That is why it makes a super gift for almost any occasion.

ANSWERS FROM MURRAY SIEGEL WITH TOWEL SPECIALTIES

Q: Tell us the difference between price-point and high-end robes.

A: Our top-of-the-line shawl collar robe is our high-end robe. Our “price-point” robe is a waffle weave robe. The main difference is that the material in the high-end robe is twice-sheared terry velour while the waffle weave robe is 100% cotton construction.

Q: Tell us about decorating options.

A: Screenprinting is not an option on robes. We generally embroider a company logo or monogram initials. For presentation purposes, we can also ship our robes in a gift box with tissue and a customized ribbon.

Q: Are robes generally one-size-fits-all, or are there men’s and women’s sizes?

A: We sell our robes as one-size-fits-all, although we do carry XL and XXL in some styles.

Q: What are some of the key end-user markets for robes?

A: Big ticket services, like real estate, stock brokers, mortgage companies and travel agencies. Also, hospitality, associations, pharmaceuticals, and automotive. Anyone looking to give a nice “thank-you” gift or recognition item.

ANSWERS FROM ASHLEY CHADOWITZ, A PRINCIPAL WITH MONARCH ROBE & TOWEL CO.

Q: Tell us the difference between price-point and high-end robes.

A: All of our robes are made specifically for hotel/spa use and are thus considered high end – even our lower priced items. Many things affect the cost of the robe:

Fabric type. The heavier the fabric, the more expensive. The more finishing the fabric requires the more expensive. Thus in terry, velour fabrics are usually more expensive than simple loops. The higher the quality of the weave, the more expensive. Thus products from Brazil and sometimes Turkey, which use modern equipment to make smoother, softer, and more consistent fabrics, cost more than items from Pakistan and India.

Construction. The particular sewing methods affect the price of the robe. Many price-point robes have seams that can literally be pulled out by a simple tug. Many robes are designed just for promotional use, and thus cannot stand up to repeated stress.

Fit. The smaller the robe, the cheaper it will be. This refers not only to the length but more importantly to the sweep (circumference at the bottom) of the robe. The larger the sweep, the more fabric is used, the more expensive the robe.

Style of the robe. The simpler the style, the less expensive. Thus the basic kimono is usually less expensive than a shawl collar or notch collar robe. Also lined robes – such as microfibers lined in terry or pique – are usually considered more high-end.

Country of manufacture. Robes from countries such as Pakistan and India are usually less expensive due to lower labor costs, lower quality control, and cheaper but outdated manufacturing and dyeing methods.

Q: Tell us about some innovative programs have your robes been a part of.

A: Outside of our regular hotel and spa business, customers often call upon us to supply robes that reflect the quality of their image. Many Hollywood gift baskets include our robes. Our robes are especially popular at corporate retreats.

Q: Tell us about decorating options.

A: We offer a variety of decorating options, from simple embroidery, custom labels, and custom piping, to reactive dyed print robes that feature a full-color, all-over design. Screenprinting is not a viable option.

Q: Are robes generally one-size-fits-all, or are there men’s and women’s sizes?

A: While robes are sized when sold at retail, the hotel, spa, and promotional industry tends to be a one-size-fits-MOST industry. While there are standard lengths (48″, 50″ and 52″) there is no standard “one-size-fits-most” sizing. As discussed before, one way, and usually the most popular way, to lessen the cost of a robe is to make it smaller. Because of this it is vital that you request samples before deciding to buy. Try them on and compare. Remember many different people of many different sizes will be wearing the item.

Q: What are some of the key end-user markets for robes?

A: Lodging, spas (both of which are very price sensitive), corporate retreats, corporate gifts, travel incentives, hospitals.

ANSWERS FROM CLYDE HARR, SALES MANAGER OF McARTHUR PROFESSIONAL

Q: Tell us the difference (fabric, construction, features, etc.) between price-point and high-end robes.

A: Fabric weight, drop, collar (Shawl), sweep.

Q: Tell us about decorating options. Is screenprinting ever an option? Any other feasible decorating options besides embroidery?

A: Embroidery is by far the most popular and feasible.

Q: Are robes generally one-size-fits-all, or are there men’s and women’s sizes?

A: One size fits most.

Q: What are some of the key end-user markets for robes?

A: Promotional products market, pro sports teams, catalog companies.

SUPPLIERS MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE:

McArthur Professional: 800-547-8783 Monarch Robe and Towel Co.: 800-729-7623 Terry Collection: 800-728-6935 Towels Etc.: 866-860-1583 Towel Specialties: 800-938-6935

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