Defining the Placket Market

placket [plækt]

n Dressmaking
1. (Clothing, Personal Arts & Crafts /
Knitting & Sewing) a piece of cloth sewn
in under a closure with buttons, hooks and
eyes, zips, etc.

Plackets have been on the market since the beginning of the industry, really. Fitting in with service industries, corporate programs and golf courses, the buttoned-up design has gone through few drastic changes in its existence.  “You really have to work hard to make a polo shirt exciting these days,” declares Danny Tsai, Tri-Mountain.

Among these changes have been feminine cuts added to women’s designs, along with ruffles, spandex, cap sleeves and less-prominent plackets. Colors evolve with changing trends, including the popular color blocking, to usually mirror the spring and summer seasons associated with the short-sleeved, active design, says Tsai. However, the biggest change the humble placket has seen in recent years is in the realm of high-tech finishes.

“Performance fabrics have been the big change in the last eight years or so,” says Lori Helms, Carolina Made. Indeed, performance features have come to the forefront of customer demands. Moisture wicking, anti-microbial and UPF properties are among the top performance features requested… and perhaps even expected.

“If a placket shirt doesn’t at least have moisture wicking, it’s kind of strange,” explains Tsai. Of course, increased technology in functional features also means the prices tend to escalate, which can pose unique challenges in trying to sell the dressier-than-a-T placket styles that already tend to impose on clients’ budgets.

This is a factor in placket segment sales for sure. With the economy struggling to pull out of the slump it has experienced over the past few years, it’s hard to tell if this product category has yet managed to pull ahead. “A lot of people are downgrading to T-shirts,” Tsai reports.

Tim Stiene also sees this change, noting that his company, Whispering Pines, has phased out the fancier style shirts to expand the basics lines of plackets. “Things that we may have only offered in the upper-end items, we’re now offering with our basic selection,” he says. This means integration of the popular moisture wicking finishes and offering 100 percent polyester shirts at opening price points.

Helms adds that, while the market can go to both extremes, there is always a place for the middleman. And, more importantly, a little bit of perceived luxury. “T-shirts will always be around, but if ad-specialty companies are trying to go out there and sell a shirt to a business with their logo on it, it’s a nicer look for somebody to go out there with.” With options ranging from the inexpensive to pro-shop price points, plackets can still manage to fit many needs.

The key is to understand who the customer is, Stiene emphasizes. “It’s understanding what the end-use of the product is or what they expect from the shirt itself.”

Finally, by offering a variety of price points, styles and colors, decorators can supply a little something for virtually every type of end-user. “Every distributor has the basics; solid colors, fashion collars, pockets and different fabrics,” Helms explains. “The niche lies in having performance fabric golf shirts and offering different color schemes within the same shirt, in a size range.”

Tsai agrees that the best way to get ahead in the current market place is to offer style and substance. “It has to be aesthetically pleasing, because it has been around forever. It’s adding different looks and adding function.”Plackets have been on the market since the beginning of the industry, really. Fitting in with service industries, corporate programs and golf courses, the buttoned-up design has gone through few drastic changes in its existence.  “You really have to work hard to make a polo shirt exciting these days,” declares Danny Tsai, Tri-Mountain.

Among these changes have been feminine cuts added to women’s designs, along with ruffles, spandex, cap sleeves and less-prominent plackets. Colors evolve with changing trends, including the popular color blocking, to usually mirror the spring and summer seasons associated with the short-sleeved, active design, says Tsai. However, the biggest change the humble placket has seen in recent years is in the realm of high-tech finishes.

“Performance fabrics have been the big change in the last eight years or so,” says Lori Helms, Carolina Made. Indeed, performance features have come to the forefront of customer demands. Moisture wicking, anti-microbial and UPF properties are among the top performance features requested… and perhaps even expected.

“If a placket shirt doesn’t at least have moisture wicking, it’s kind of strange,” explains Tsai. Of course, increased technology in functional features also means the prices tend to escalate, which can pose unique challenges in trying to sell the dressier-than-a-T placket styles that already tend to impose on clients’ budgets.

This is a factor in placket segment sales for sure. With the economy struggling to pull out of the slump it has experienced over the past few years, it’s hard to tell if this product category has yet managed to pull ahead. “A lot of people are downgrading to T-shirts,” Tsai reports.

Tim Stiene also sees this change, noting that his company, Whispering Pines, has phased out the fancier style shirts to expand the basics lines of plackets. “Things that we may have only offered in the upper-end items, we’re now offering with our basic selection,” he says. This means integration of the popular moisture wicking finishes and offering 100 percent polyester shirts at opening price points.

Helms adds that, while the market can go to both extremes, there is always a place for the middleman. And, more importantly, a little bit of perceived luxury. “T-shirts will always be around, but if ad-specialty companies are trying to go out there and sell a shirt to a business with their logo on it, it’s a nicer look for somebody to go out there with.” With options ranging from the inexpensive to pro-shop price points, plackets can still manage to fit many needs.

The key is to understand who the customer is, Stiene emphasizes. “It’s understanding what the end-use of the product is or what they expect from the shirt itself.”

Finally, by offering a variety of price points, styles and colors, decorators can supply a little something for virtually every type of end-user. “Every distributor has the basics; solid colors, fashion collars, pockets and different fabrics,” Helms explains. “The niche lies in having performance fabric golf shirts and offering different color schemes within the same shirt, in a size range.”

Tsai agrees that the best way to get ahead in the current market place is to offer style and substance. “It has to be aesthetically pleasing, because it has been around forever. It’s adding different looks and adding function.”