Although the industry is abuzz with the news of Patagonia’s recent decision to again allow for direct embroidery, the company is far from the only option for high-end outerwear. Indeed, clients may be pleasantly surprised to find out how many options – and price points – the promo industry has to offer for brandable outerwear.

The three main factors driving demand for Patagonia and similar brands in the promo space are sustainability, brand consciousness and quality, says Nicki Staats, director of merchandising for Massachusetts-based distributor iPROMOTEu.

“The millennials and Gen Z both are very brand conscious, and they’re also very outdoorsy,” she says, “and people want to invest in items that are going to stand up to the elements and allow for them to be used a lot for longevity.”

Perceived value is key, and distributors report that some clients never stopped asking for Patagonia, despite decoration challenges. But the brand also became linked to a certain “corporate finance bro” stereotype, and clients looking to differentiate their brands may well be better served by other options.

While many promo suppliers offer similar outdoor brands like The North Face and Columbia, or sportswear labels like Nike and Adidas, many of those brands, like Patagonia, are particular about who they work with and where they allow decoration on their garments. If the client’s primary goal (aside from self-promotion) is to invest in a certain brand, then leaving the maker’s logo at the left chest and adding your own decoration in another popular area, like the sleeve or back yoke, may make sense.

But suppliers of promo apparel have stepped up their game in recent years to offer garments to meet the demand for high-quality, high-style, fully brandable outerwear – many of them using recycled materials and sustainable practices to meet the growing demand for eco-friendly promo apparel.

“The diversity of the product offering is pretty extensive, and different vendors are expanding their options, obviously based on what’s prohibitive of their stock changeovers and their auditing that they have to do and all of those things that come along with the sustainability movement,” says Staats.

Completing the necessary steps to credibly call a product sustainable takes a long time, and creating a promo division within an established company can be a long process, as well. Staats says she does hear from her affiliates that customers can be disappointed that a certain brand isn’t accessible – but she considers this an opportunity.

“It’s just trying to find creative ways to show them what you can do,” she says. “There’s definitely a sales strategy opportunity there for developing your sales force on how to handle those situations. … If somebody’s asking you for X product, are you really only showing them X product when you respond to them? Because I feel like you’re doing yourself a disservice by not using that opportunity to show them more diversity of what you can do.”

For example, when a client asks for a brand you know to be particular about logo placement and such, explain the parameters with using that brand and then offer a few alternatives that offer comparable style and quality, as well as a bit more flexibility. That way you position the pitch as how you are trying to help make things easy for your client from a service standpoint.

          READ MORE: What Patagonia Says Distributors Should Know

“I personally don’t own any Patagonia myself, but I do understand the value of it,” says Staats. “I think that it’s great that they’re back in. … I’m happy for my affiliate network, because it’s one less thing they have to say, ‘I can’t get that.’”

Here are more than a dozen of the myriad high-quality outerwear options, many with eco-friendly bona fides, that the promo industry has to offer:

  woman wearing bright orange puffer vest with full zipper

Design your own Mega Puff Vest in one or more of 23 colors (dynamite orange shown) for a smart streetwear look that offers premium protection and performance. Made of sustainably manufactured polyester treated with durable water repellent finish and insulated with responsibly sourced down that meets the Responsible Down Standard for proper animal welfare. Available in men’s XS-5X and women’s XXS-4X.

Hexa Custom / PPAI 767010, S1

man wearing gray full-zip vest

Each Trailblazer Vest, made of 94% recycled polyester, diverts 20-22 plastic bottles from landfills. With 6% Spandex, this high-stretch softshell vest, lined with 100% recycled fleece, keeps the elements out with the fit and comfort for any activity. The supplier also donates more than 5% of its profits to environmental and community causes annually. Available black or jet (shown) and men’s S-4X and women’s XS-3X.

Storm Creek / PPAI 438091, S6

woman wearing quarter-zip pullover with thumb holes, gray

For a modern athleisure silhouette, the quarter-zip Mirage Long Sleeve Shirt is made of 25% recycled polyester blended with jacquard knit for comfort and style, plus moisture wicking and SPF 50. Available in heather charcoal (shown or black) in men’s S-5X or women’s XS-3X. “Fossa has been around a really long time,” says Staats. “Very good focus on the quality of the goods and the style, and they’re women-owned, so they fit another demographic that a lot of people are starting to ask for on minority-owned companies.”

Fossa Apparel / PPAI 330885, S1

man wearing green quarter-zip Adidas pullover sweater

Adidas has pledged to use recycled polyester wherever possible by 2024 throughout its product line. This Adidas 3-Stripes Quarter-Zip Sweater is a cotton/recycled poly blend with moisture management properties, a stand-up collar and the tonal three-stripes logo on the right sleeve. Available in six colors (Green Oxide Melange shown), the men’s version (sizes S-4X) features a contrast color Adidas logo on the back neck, and the women’s version (S-3X) shows the logo on the right hip.

S&S Activewear / PPAI 256121, S12

woman wearing full-zip fleece jacket

The Inspire Bonded Sweater Fleece Jacket gets rave reviews and is available in men’s S-4X or women’s XS-3X (shown) and three neutral heather shades (light heather shown). The super-soft water repellent fabric combines the look of a sweater with the comfort and ease of fleece, and the jacket features lined chest and front pockets and a stealth back hip pocket.

KNOSS Apparel / PPAI 798753, S1

woman wearing blue water-repellent jacket Stormtech

The Kyoto Jacket traps pockets of warm air inside and provides stretch for superior range of motion, and PFC-free durable water repellent keeps moisture at bay. Available in four colors (classic blue shown) and men’s XS-5X and women’s XS-2X. “Stormtech is a fantastic recommendation, especially in the Canadian market,” says Staats. “They’re building that brand credibility more and more north in the U.S., but as far as Canada is concerned, they’ve been a top brand for over 20 years.”

Stormtech USA / PPAI 260245, S4

man wwearing Columbia Glennaker Lake Rain Jacket

If your client is looking for brand name outerwear, the Columbia Men’s Glennaker Lake Rain Jacket offers a 100% nylon hydroplus waterproof shell that packs into a pocket for easy travel. Comes with embroidered Columbia logo on left chest, available in sizes S-3X and three colors (blue jay/navy shown).

alphabroder Prime Line / PPAI 156993, S16

  Mountain Standard Drifter Button-Up Jacket

This Mountain Standard Drifter Button-Up Jacket blends workwear style with outdoor appeal. Made of water repellent 100% recycled nylon and ripstop material with polyester fill insulation, the jacket features snap-front closure and two chest pockets as well as side pockets. Available in True Black, Beetle Green or Trail Sand (shown) and sizes S-2X.

Hit Promotional Products / PPAI 113910, S14

  man wearing North End Adult 3-in-1 Two-Tone Parka, red - black

This unisex North End Adult 3-in-1 Two-Tone Parka offers a lined shell and zip-off hood for warmth and reflective details for night visibility. Available in five colors (molten red shown) and sizes S-5X. “I actually have a couple North End pieces myself, and they’re fantastic,” says Staats. “I think that they’ve done a really great job on matching that market.”

alphabroder Prime Line / PPAI 156993, S16

man wearing The North Face ThermoBall Trekker Jacket

From another well-known outerwear brand, check out The North Face ThermoBall Trekker Jacket, made of lightweight, highly compressible synthetic insulation made with 100% recycled polyester. This water-repellent, travel-friendly jacket will keep you warm regardless of the conditions. The North Face products must be shipped to decorators on The North Face Contract Decorator list. Available in five colors (mid grey shown) in men’s sizes S-3X and women’s S-2X.

SanMar / PPAI 110788, S16

woman wearing Weatherproof HeatLast Quilted Packable Bomber, blush

Bombers are back in a big way, and the Weatherproof HeatLast Quilted Packable Bomber offers a streetwear take on the quilted puffer jacket. Women’s (shown) available in black, blush (shown) or olive grey and sizes S-2X; men’s version available in sizes S-3X and black or olive grey.

S&S Activewear / PPAI 256121, S12

man wearing Nike Brasilia Medium Backpack

Take your gear on the go in a co-branded 100% recycled polyester Nike Brasilia Medium Backpack. Available in four colors (collegiate red shown), this versatile backpack includes a padded sleeve that fits most 15-inch laptops, multiple pockets for organized storage, padded back panel and shoulder straps for comfortable carrying and a water-resistant coating on the bottom panel to help keep contents dry.

SanMar / PPAI 110788, S16

  woman wearing Stormtech Explorer baseball cap made from recycled polyester and sustainably sourced cotton

For a sustainably sourced lid, consider the Explorer Cap, made from recycled polyester and sustainably sourced cotton certified by the Better Cotton Initiative. Available in black, navy (shown) and pewter.

Stormtech USA / PPAI 260245, S4

knit beanie made with recycled fibers

Add warmth with a Recycled Solid Beanie made of 50/50 rPET and acrylic yarn in one of eight stock colors (black shown) with choice of embroidery, woven patch or woven cuff tag (shown).

Pop! Promos / PPAI 564497, S1