Company Hats: Should I Go Fully Custom or Use Off-the-Shelf Blanks?

Posted by Anna Sork on Sep 26, 2017 3:41:46 PM
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Company Hats: Should I Go Off-the-Shelf or Custom?

When it comes to branded merchandise, company hats are always a crowd favorite. Whether you plan to hand them out at trade shows, use them as promotional giveaways for your latest campaign, or gift them to your loyal customers and valued team members, their "one-size fits all" attribute makes hats the perfect item to appeal to your entire audience. 

As a branding agency, we find that taking a custom approach has proven to bring significant value to our clients. Incorporating those surprise and delight details allow us to tell a bigger story with their headwear by translating the ethos of their brand into an authentic design. Though sometimes you're up against certain limitations - such as rushed timeline and small quantities - that make it challenging to deliver a fully custom design that meets your needs. Rather than starting from scratch, pulling blank hats from off the shelf and adding a few decorative touches is the best way to meet those requirements. 

Here are a few things to consider when deciding between an off-the-shelf hat option versus producing a custom headwear design to inform which approach is best for your project.

1. Turn Around Time

Off-the-shelf: The standard turn around time for producing an order of off-the-shelf hats is around 2 weeks (+ shipping time). If you have an event in the near future, or your in-hands-date is approaching quickly, this is likely the best option to meet your deadline.

Custom: The turn around time for producing an order of custom hats can vary anywhere from 2 to 4 months, depending on different variables of the order. One variable that comes into play is your delivery date, which will help inform the shipment method of your order. 

  • Air Shipping: 2 - 2.5 months (3 weeks for sample, 1 month full production, 2 weeks for shipping)
  • Ocean Shipping: 3 - 4 months (3 weeks for sample, 1 month full production, 3 months for shipping)

2. Minimum Quantities

Off-the-shelf: Choosing a style that is in-stock, or off-the-shelf, allows for placing orders of smaller quantities, typically with a 72 qty. minimum.

Custom: Because there are a few more moving parts that go into the production, and unique design elements that are specific to your order, custom hats have a higher minimum of about 144+ qty. 

3. Decoration Capabilities

Off-the-shelf: With off-the-shelf hats, the fabric, colors and structure options are dependent on what inventory is in stock at the time of your order. While the decoration capabilities are limited as well, the blanks can either be embroidered or screen printed to allow for branding. 

Custom Company Hats

Custom: Choosing the custom approach opens the door to a large variety of design and decoration methods, allowing for you to produce something one-of-a-kind and truly unique to your brand. These options include (but aren't limited to):

  • Unique fabric options (wool, heather gray, etc.)
  • Interior seam taping
  • Embroidery
  • Screen print
  • Leather patches
  • Woven labels                 
  • Felt appliques
  • Hang tags
  • Custom closures (metal clip, leather, molded buckle) 
  • Patches                          
  • Full color dye sublimation on exterior and/or interior 
  • Contrast stitching
  • Under the brim decor  
  • Custom inserts

Custom Company HatsCustom Company Hats

Next time you go to place an order of branded hats, take these insights into consideration to decide which approach is best for your project. Our branding experts are here to help with all of your merchandise and apparel needs to help you reach your project goals and emotionally connect with your audience. Let's create something together.

Create Branded Merch

Follow our headwear Instagram feed for the latest hat designs we've produced for our clients! @anthemcustomheadwear

Topics: Promotional Products, Custom Headwear, Brand Merchandising