Despite the record heat across North America and Europe this summer, fall is sure to bring its share of rainy, chilly days. That means it’s a great time to start thinking about outerwear, from jackets and ponchos to umbrellas, hats and more.

When it comes to outerwear for work, says Drew Davis, president of Colorado-based distributor Specialty Incentives, functionality and utility should take priority, and buyers should look at apparel purchases as an investment in their team.

“From a buyer’s perspective, they’re wanting their teams to not only look good, but to feel good about the apparel that they’re wearing,” he says. “From the professional perspective, there needs to be some utility and function to it. It’s beyond just, ‘Here’s a jacket’ – it has to be a jacket that you’re going to want to wear.”

Coats and jackets comprise just over half the global winter wear market, valued at $290 billion in 2020 and expected to grow to almost $360 billion by 2025. But sweaters and cardigans are the fastest-growing category, proving that comfort is still king, thanks to the pandemic and WFH style. Think lightweight pieces that are portable and handy to carry.

Neutral or earth tones also remain popular, as well as textures like quilting or buttery soft fleece that are soothing or interesting to touch.

“Beyond the continued influx of neutral shades, variation of greys and earth tones, color trends in apparel and textiles will blend into the use of textures,” says Elson Yeung, president and designer with supplier KNOSS Apparel. “We should expect to continue seeing this as a trend, but also a demand from consumers.”

Outerwear Staples: Jackets, Hoodies And More

Jackets are the foundation of any outerwear wardrobe. Oversized silhouettes, especially big jackets in black, are hot right now. Hard shells should provide a looser, more boxy fit to allow for layering, so they can be a great opportunity for a branded product that is both useful and on trend.

Soft shells (hoodies, fleece) should fit closer to the body to keep you cozy. This goes hand-in-hand with the trend of tailored micro blazers, which feature a very fitted, lean silhouette that may be more appropriate in a professional setting.

Kristine Eng, a sales consultant for KNOSS Apparel, says it’s time to think beyond the basic soft shell and maximize utility for “a jacket that actually works for the wearer.” She points to KNOSS’ Legend All-Season Canvas Utility Jacket, which ticks a lot of feature boxes – it’s lightweight, water-resistant and has lots of pockets – and is versatile enough for a variety of uses. “We know utility is what is hot right now,” she says.

Hoods and hoodies remain popular, as well, both as a fashion statement and to add warmth. Some jackets come with hoods that zip off or roll into the collar for storage. Pockets are highly prized, too, especially when designed with items like keys, IDs or cellphones in mind.

Whatever garment type you’re looking for, says Davis, you have a much wider range of choices now than ever.

“Two years ago, there might have been one style in one color,” he says, “and now there are certainly more options and material weights, patterns, etc.”

Accessories: Get Covered Head To Toe

When it comes to a rainy day, there are tons of accessories to keep you warm and dry.

“The umbrella is the obvious choice for keeping clothing not designed to be rainproof dry during your commute,” says Charity Gibson, national accounts representative with supplier Peerless Umbrella.

Over 33 million umbrellas are sold in the United States each year, and the average American owns two. This is a great opportunity for brands to get literally in the hands of customers. Popping a logo on an umbrella will remind customers of the brand that helped keep them dry during that unexpected afternoon shower.

Hats are also great for a little personal sun protection, winter warmth and more. Bucket hats have been big this year, with celebrities like Hailey Bieber and Bella Hadid sporting knit bucket hats on Instagram – but knit beanies and baseball caps are always in style. Again, the range of choices now available means there’s something for everybody, says Davis.

“There are all kinds of different beanies. They are attractive to different types of people, there are different individual styles,” he says. “I think the variety that is available is good, because it allows the distributor salesperson to no longer just offer one beanie – there’s a range of choices available.”

Davis also recommends gloves and scarves, especially for folks who work outside.

“This gets back to utility,” he says. “You want people to feel like they’re taken care of.”

Here are some outerwear products to help keep folks branded, warm and dry this winter:

You can’t go wrong with fleece, and this Men’s Inspire Bonded Sweater Fleece Jacket (shown in light heather) features a modern silhouette with piping details, as well as a vegan leather zipper pull for added style. With its casual but clean design, this jacket combines the sweater look with the comfort and ease of fleece, making it ideal for remote workers or casual work environments.
KNOSS Apparel / PPAI 798753, S1 /

Texture is on trend for winter 2022, and bombers are back in a big way. This Weatherproof Women’s HeatLast Quilted Packable Bomber (shown in blush) has you covered on both fronts, plus it’s water resistant and packable for comfort and convenience. The jacket folds and stows into a separate pouch for easy transport.
S&S Activewear / PPAI 256121, S12 /

Nothing says utility like a rugged shirt jacket. The flannel-lined, workwear-inspired Boulder Shirt Jacket (shown in taupe green), made of durable cotton canvas, features a snap-front closure, spread collar, chest flap patch pockets and plenty of room for your company’s logo, a name patch, etc.
Vantage Apparel / PPAI 113235, S10 /

T-shirts aren’t the only way to turn a person into a walking billboard. A lightweight poncho like the ones available from Mad Dasher (shown in yellow) can be a great item to keep in stock to hand out to customers caught by an unexpected rainstorm. Available in 15 colors, including clear, and single or staggered imprint, these are a great opportunity for branding.
Mad Dasher, Inc. / PPAI 113961, S3 /

Keep your brand top of mind – literally – with a branded lid like the Tundra Knit Beanie. This soft, warm, stretchy hat, available in three colors (shown in bright red), will keep heads and ears toasty.
Stormtech USA, Inc. / PPAI 260245, S4 /

Did you know most people check the weather two or more times a day? Keep them prepared with the Rebel With A Cause (RPET), an eco-friendly, sustainable inverted umbrella manufactured from nine recycled plastic bottles. Even better, proceeds support rainforest conservation. The most popular color for umbrellas globally is dark blue or black, but women prefer brighter colors like red (shown above) and green. Why not stand out with a neon green or Barbie pink umbrella? Bonus: It’s easier for the end user to find and keep track of which one is theirs in a sea of basic black.
Peerless Umbrella Co. / PPAI 112666, S10 /

For a nod to 1980s retro style with a healthy dose of functionality, fingerless gloves can be a great way to show your outdoor employees some love. These Fingerless Gloves With Flap allow for both full coverage and full dexterity or fingerprint recognition when needed. (Shown in brown; seven colors available.)
Apollo Group / PPAI 194259, S4 /