Freebie heaven: The Dukes Show 2017

Since we’re in the business of promotion, please forgive us for blowing our own trumpet here – the Dukes Show 2017 was a fantastic success!

Hundreds of merchandise buyers and marketing hotshots crowded into the Rich Mix arts venue in Shoreditch on June 14th to see what’s new in promotional merchandise. We were thrilled to welcome guests from some of the biggest blue chips in the country, including multinational banks, leisure brands and FMCG top dogs.

As promised, the Dukes Show was a frenzy of freebies – guests could barely fit all the free gifts in their free goody bags. Not any old bags either – bags printed there and then with a photo taken of guests in front of our colourful backdrop. (Or a snap from a recent Ibiza hen weekend – whichever was preferred.) Free drink bottles, pedometers, footballs, power banks, sun lotion and headphones were amongst the loot.

Our team went all out to make the show a fun and entertaining experience for all. Turns out you’re a competitive lot! The speed reaction game of Batak Pro got quite heated. Luckily there were free on-site shoulder massages on offer to chill out afterwards. You could also win a fitness tracker, just for walking around the show and posting some pics on Instagram or Twitter, tagging #DukesShow2017.

The purpose for many coming along was to see what’s new and hot off the press in promotional merchandise and corporate gifts. So we made sure to show you products with the wow factor. A stand out product was the Chilly’s Bottle – everyone loved the cool shape and sassy colours, and that’s before they found out that the double-wall vacuum technology actually keeps your drink cold for a full 24 hours.

If standard sunglasses are passé for you, we showed you Bluetooth sunglasses. If you’re tired of boring belts, we showed you belts made from reclaimed firehose by fashion brand Elvis & Kresse. You got to meet Kresse herself, the innovator interviewed by everyone from Harper’s Bazaar to the FT.

In keeping with our music venue, we showed you Boompods waterproof speakers, though the ideal setting to experience these would have been poolside in Portugal, not streetside in London E1.

All of the above can of course be branded, and we showed you clothing, office accessories, gadgets, luggage, cosmetics, confectionery and more with logos in place, together with demos including laser engraving.

The Dukes Show is a highlight of the year for us, meeting with all you lovely lot on one single day, and sharing our excitement about creative innovations just launched onto the market. Don’t miss it next year!

Smile: Under my umbrella

There’s a reason why umbrellas are so popular as branded merchandise. They’re really useful and are therefore appreciated. And the reason they’re appreciated is that people just don’t like to spend their own money on one! A beach towel yes, an umbrella? “It might jinx the weather adversely, and maybe I’ll wait until someone gives me one…”

Anyone lucky enough to have visited the pyramids in Egypt will have seen depictions of the first parasols held over the heads of royalty. The humble umbrella is now one of the most commonly used objects in the modern world.

At Dukes of London we source our umbrellas from trusted partner the Booth Brothers. With 25 years experience, we selected this family business due to their sustainable sourcing of raw materials, and their innovative printing and production technologies.

As a large and colourful item, the umbrella is a great canvas for your branding. Grouped together at an event, they’ll look fantastic in photos, and united by the irony of British weather at a summer event as the drips turn into a deluge off the corners of the marquee, people might have even more fun than they expected.

Don’t feel restricted to simply having a logo printed either. The ‘Soft Feel’ printing method we offer on selected umbrella products gives you pantone matched fabric and allows for dramatic full panel designs. Unlimited number of colours, faithful reproduction of multi-coloured logos, tonal images and photographic designs are all creative options on the table.

Whatever colour the umbrella, it can be green at heart. Our umbrella partner’s UK site is where all manufacturing takes place and boasts a host of renewable energy generators including three wind turbines, five large solar PV arrays and a hydro electric turbine. The energy that is not generated by the company is supplied from 100% renewable sources so they are truly a Carbon Neutral organisation.

‘What about umbrellas made from recycled materials?’ we hear you cry! Yes, we do offer umbrellas made from the revolutionary “Green Plus®” yarn, which performs in exactly the same way as the conventional fabrics, but offers the added benefit of being 100% recycled. The yarn is made from recycled PET (PolyEthylene Terephthalate), the clear polyester used for drinks containers.

There’s actually more choice available for your branded umbrellas than you might expect. So feel free to pick our brains on what we would recommend for you. You can choose from flexi-foam, wooden or rubber handles, 10 pole colours, various canopy shapes, open sizes, lengths and weights; golf umbrellas, small folding umbrellas, children’s umbrellas and parasols. Colourful parasols printed with your logo would be great to provide shaded areas for employees and customers to enjoy the outdoors during the summer months.

A cool feature of our ProBrella golf range is that they have been subjected to a Wind Performance Test. Unrelated to schoolboy humour, this means that the umbrellas have been tested and can withstand wind speeds of 30 miles per hour. Above this speed, the umbrellas will likely blow inside out, yet they have been specially designed to revert back to shape.

Turnaround from Dukes of London can be speedy if needed too – contact us to find out prices, design options and turnaround times for your branded umbrellas.

23 years of experience in promotional merchandise

1994: ‘Things can only get better’ by D:Ream was Number 1 in the charts, and John Major was in Number 10 Downing Street. Also the year that Douglas Grays set up Dukes of London!

Douglas’ background was in the financial markets, and many of our clients in this field find that we’re good at advising on which branded products suit their colleagues and customers. Our first HQ was on Queen Victoria Street in the City of London, right next to the building which is now HSBC, and we love being in the thick of things; we moved to Brick Lane before our current home in Shoreditch.

The promotional merchandise market has evolved hugely since the Nineties, but some things are comfortingly the same: yes, we still sell a good pen if you want one. Dozens of varieties indeed. Mugs too – well, a cuppa at your desk remains universal. Umbrellas and golf balls still fly off the shelves at Dukes of London, indeed we wait to see if any 2017 orders will surpass a legendary order from a bank for 100,000 of our umbrellas!

Turnaround times are now really speedy from Dukes of London – our ‘express gifts’ range including drinkware and writing instruments come with a 5-7 day lead time.

We’re early adopters of technology: webstores of branded merchandise didn’t exist in 1994, and this is now one of our key services. High-tech branded gadgets such as chargers, activity trackers, cameras and speakers are hugely popular purchases from Dukes of London in 2017.

Looking forward to the next 23 years…

Music to your ears: affordable branded gifts

We like to offer you lots of choice in how your brand appears on your corporate gift, and you can choose a fully bespoke design on items now including the ‘Promobud’ earbud. These little headphones for wearing inside the ear, and plugging the cable into a smartphone, can feature your logo as a 2D shape in the colours of your choice.

The good news is that these branded earbuds at Dukes of London cost just £4.90 each, when you order 250 or more, excluding origination and delivery.

The packaging of our earbuds will make a great impression on the recipient too. They sit snugly in a clear tube, above a cardboard insert that will feature your design, branding and messaging.

Don’t worry – even at this price, the sound quality is good and the earbuds are comfortable for hours of listening. So what will you listen to? Latest stats from RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research) shows that live radio makes up only 21.9% of what we now listen to on smartphones. Digital tracks make up 30.4%, the biggest share, followed by on-demand music services such as Spotify and Apple Music. Online music video, podcasts and catch up radio all take a small share too of our choices for audio consumption on the go.

And did you think that a BBC station would be the biggest UK radio station, based on listener numbers? Well, here’s one for your next pub quiz: the ‘biggest’ radio station in the UK is actually ASDA FM which reaches 18 million shoppers, plus 167,500 staff every week!

Browse branded earbuds, speakers, headphones and more here.

Choose your T-shirts responsibly

We’ve all been irresponsible in our T-shirt choice at least once in our lives: an ill-judged slogan or image of a cheesy pop or dark rock sensation has graced our clothing before being demoted to the back of the wardrobe. But now we urge you to display your new-found maturity when selecting the T-shirts that you order for your company.

At Dukes of London, we offer 100% organic, Fairtrade cotton T-shirts, plus sweatshirts, hats, aprons, baby clothes and bags.

Satisfying your CSR requirements, as well as your own personal ethics, is easy with the ‘Neutral®’ clothing range from Dukes of London.

Neutral® from our partner Screenworks is a brand of premium quality clothing, manufactured and certified in accordance with the highest social, ethical and environmental standards in the world:

Organic cotton – what is it?

Organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. Organic production systems replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers, and build biologically diverse agriculture.

The Fairtrade Mark – what does it mean?

It means that the Fairtrade ingredients in the product have been produced by small-scale farmers that meet Fairtrade social, economic and environmental standards. The standards include protection of workers’ rights and the environment, payment of the Fairtrade Minimum Price and an additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in business or community projects. Find out more here:

The EU Eco-Label – what does it mean?

Eco-Labelled products have comparatively modest impact on air, water, soil, quality, natural resource consumption, global warming and biodiversity.

SA8000 – what is it?

It measures the performance of companies in human rights: child labour, forced labour, health and safety, free association and collective bargaining, discrimination, disciplinary practices, working hours and compensation.

The recipients of your Neutral® T-shirts from Dukes of London will see that your business has chosen to be kind to the planet, since each item comes with Certified Responsibility™ labelling and hangtags.

You won’t be restricted to standard T-shirts either with this range. Style aficionados can choose from round neck, V neck, deep O neck, loose style, fitted style, polo shirt, grandad shirt… you get the idea. If you feel the urge for a tank top, you will be catered for too.

Your branding can be applied to any item, via screen printing or embroidering.

We can help you pick the right shade for your brand too, if you fancy a change from pure white. Tell us your corporate colour, and we’ll suggest the best match.

Maybe you’ve ordered cotton clothing based on cost alone in the past, and regretted it when you’ve seen the poor fabric quality and short lifespan with your own eyes.

This time, communicate quality and ethics by ordering Neutral® from Dukes of London. Ask for a quote here.

Business bigwigs choose Dukes

Did you know that our team at Dukes of London creates bespoke online corporate merchandise stores, for global financial companies including Barclays?

In fact, so delighted were Barclays with their branded promotional store, that they awarded us ‘Diverse Supplier of the Year’ in 2016, for ‘exceeding their expectations’. We were up against 1,600 other suppliers, yet took the award home as they appreciated the way we had made their Barclays-branded store more eco-friendly, plus improved customer service and delivered cost benefits too. See their article here.

Our director Stuart Shepherd explains why Dukes of London’s eStore service is popular with international businesses and banks:

“We create an easy-to-use interface for your eStore, with handy features such as order tracking, multiple delivery options and multi-currency payment options. Product lines are managed by us for each of your regions, to reflect different buying needs. We offer the advantages of a more local service – products are sourced at the best price available globally, but we have an impressive logistics and fulfilment infrastructure in place to ensure your company merchandise is readily available all over the world.”

We hand-pick good quality promotional merchandise for your store, whether it be clothing, office accessories or high-tech gadgets, and display it beautifully on the site. It’s important of course that the eStore ties in with your company website and intranet, and the result will be a fully integrated, professional merchandise web store, that makes life easier.

Arrange an appointment with Stuart, to tell us what you’d like on your new online corporate merchandise store.

Clip on and listen in

Music can lift the spirits, plus has a physical effect on our bodies – it works on the autonomic nervous system (controls blood pressure and heartbeat), as well as the limbic system (responsible for feelings and emotions).

Insert your standard earphones into the Mantis Bluetooth Receiver, clip it onto your clothing, and you can listen to music from your phone wirelessly.

At only £12.15 per unit when you order 100, this is an affordable gadget on which your branding can be a decent size – 5cm in width. Origination and delivery costs are on top – ask us for a quote. It’s a popular choice for our customers here at Dukes of London looking for good promotional merchandise. It’s handy for anyone not yet the proud owner of Bluetooth headphones.

The Mantis Bluetooth Receiver comes in grey, black or a bright apple green. The USB to micro USB cable for charging is included in the price.

The shape of this device was inspired by elongated body of the tropical Mantis insect, but don’t let that put you off clipping it to your shirt collar…

Browse the full range of promotional gadgets from Dukes of London here.


Elvis & Kresse to the rescue!

At Dukes of London, we can reveal a new partnership with a fashion brand showered with awards for craftsmanship and environmental performance. Elvis & Kresse ‘rescue’ waste fabrics and transform them into beautiful wallets, bags, belts, cufflinks, keyrings, phone cases, notebooks and more.

The opportunity now arises for you to offer these recycled accessories as memorable and classy corporate gifts. Your branding will be laser etched onto these tactile and high-quality items for men and women.

Ideal if you’d love to offer something different with a story behind it – the core of our Elvis & Kresse accessories range is actually made from reclaimed fire hose! Since 2005, any London Fire Service hose that can no longer be used by the officers comes to the Elvis & Kresse workshop in a Kent watermill, ready for transformation, rather than going to landfill.

Co-founder Kresse Wesling explains:

“I see the fire hose as a ‘heroic’ material – it had a distinguished career fighting fires and saving lives. Over the years we have invented a 6-stage technique to take dirty fire hose and turn it into a luxury textile. It was a challenging process that started with five broken sewing machines! I’m really proud that we have kept this robust material full of character out of the ground. We also give 50% profit from the fire hose range to The Fire Fighters Charity.”

Kresse and her partner nicknamed Elvis constantly seek new challenges and now rescue 15 different materials in their efforts to reduce waste. Another incredible ‘story-laden’ material in the range available from Dukes is the printing blanket. When a blanket is damaged or wears out it can no longer be used, so they reclaim these blankets, clean them up, re-engineer them and create a new (vintage) raw material. You can order from Dukes of London belts, wallets and briefcases fashioned from printing blankets, with a sleek matt black finish and contrast red stitching, complete with your branding.

We can’t wait to see which items will be the most popular. The advantage for corporate gifting is that they are classic pieces, that people use year in, year out. The quality as well as the story behind the accessories will reflect well on your brand. We expect the range to be especially popular with organisations who are conscious about their consumption.

Kresse feels that businesses are in a miraculous position to make positive change to the environment. As a business owner she is in control to be as ethical as she wishes:

“As long as our business is making money, I can give as much of that money away as I want! And we do! I can pay people great salaries, I can start apprenticeship programs, I can set up workshops, I can collect all the waste I want, and nobody can tell me not to do these things.”

Kresse is clearly an innovator and a champion for reclamation, and we are proud to work with her and the Elvis & Kresse team. The collaboration came about when our long-term partner Barclays introduced us, and we then found out that our Director Stuart Shepherd lives just down the road from their workshop! Kresse recalls:

“Stuart came to visit us here, saw how all our products were made and was really quite excited about the potential. I like the personalities of everyone involved at Dukes. They’re very straightforward people, very interested and engaged. It doesn’t seem to be totally transactional to them, they want to do this because it’s the right thing to do and its probably going to be fun and interesting. We genuinely think that Dukes and their clients will be fantastic ambassadors for reclamation and materials rescue.”

Ask us to chat you through the options on ordering the Elvis & Kresse range from Dukes of London. We’d love to show you the samples.


165,000 hip flasks? No problem

A key player in the drinks industry was once thirsty enough to order 165,000 branded hip flasks from Dukes of London, and we immediately rose to the challenge. Whether you’re interested in ten gift items, or tens of thousands, we will listen carefully to your merchandising needs and budget, and come up with a great solution. You’ll usually want to benefit from economies of scale, but there’ll be times when you need a smaller quantity of a premium product from us, such as a branded leather briefcase too.

Dukes of London was established in the City Square Mile in 1994, and at the time the most popular corporate gifts were silver and leather products and classic Montblanc pens. Stuart Shepherd, one of our Directors, comments that:

“Those items won’t go out of fashion, but we’re seeing more demand for gadgets now, as corporate gifts. For example, we can apply your logo to a really cool little HD sports action camera. They only cost £39.93 each when you order at least 50, and have one colour printing in one position. They come in black, white, yellow and blue and the price includes 11 accessories and a waterproof case. Companies choose them because they know their clients will love to experiment with them, maybe while on a snowboarding or mountain biking trip.”

You can browse our online catalogue of gadgets and other innovative products here.

Businesses giving gifts is much more part of the marketing mix now, and people use merchandise in a more strategic way. That’s why we’ve responded with greater choice, and with more imagination and creativity in the products we offer at Dukes of London.

Hand gestures of the polite variety

Brand new on the market this month, Dukes of London are among the first to offer a revolutionary gadget that allows you to control any smart device by hand gestures. The Bixi can be branded with your logo, and your customers will love waving goodbye to button pressing in their car, home and at their desk.

Bixi reads your hand gesture and sends a Bluetooth LE signal to the Bixi app on your smartphone. Your Bixi app instantly reads the Bixi signal and delivers a command to your favourite devices through a Bluetooth or Wifi connection.

The hand gestures you can use include: wave up to turn music volume up, wave down to turn volume down; wave left to hear previous song and wave right to hear the next song.

You can control Powerpoint, Adobe PDF and Chrome too via your hand gestures.

Next time your hands are covered in butter and flour in the kitchen, use your Bixi to browse the pastry recipe without needing to touch your tablet! The Bixi can also be used to control lighting, such as LIFX smart bulbs.

Bixi is compact, sturdy and has a hexagonal shape. It was named after a Chinese mythological turtle, due to its intelligent and wise character. Black with a choice of coloured casings (blue, green, burgundy and purple), the Bixi is £70 per unit, digitally printed with your branding, when you order 100. Origination and delivery are extra.

Noted among ABI Research's 2016 'HOT TECH INNOVATORS' list, Bixi will be a fun and handy corporate gift that will get people talking. Contact us to obtain a quote for the volume you require.

Embrace the eco credentials of new ‘Spiritum’

We hope you’ll share our excitement about helping charity ‘Trees for Life’ with every purchase of beautiful notebooks from the Spiritum brand.

We’re now the exclusive UK distributor of Spiritum and we think you’ll love the quality of these notebooks, as well as the eco friendly materials used to craft them. Only paper that is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified is used. We’ve checked out how the Spiritum production teams minimise waste, and how the notebooks are transported here.

A tree will be planted by Trees for Life for every order you make of 20 Spiritum notebooks.  It’s thrilling to think of these trees being planted in our very own Dukes of London grove, in the spectacular Caledonian Forest in the Scottish highlands.

The name ‘Spiritum’ comes from the Latin word for ‘breathe’ and Trees for Life are therefore a perfect partner, working to replant forests and help the natural world to breathe.

“We talk to people in marketing and purchasing roles who have their own passions for sustainability” says Richard, our sales manager. “As well as helping their business to be socially responsible, they also get satisfaction from knowing they are sourcing environmentally-friendly products.”

Poetry, wine tasting notes or perhaps just some thrilling excerpts from the monthly sales meeting will find a good home in these Spiritum notebooks for your clients or colleagues, and branded with your logo they’ll look great. You’ll also find the price point pleasingly competitive compared to other premium brand luxe Notebooks, yet the look and feel is comparable.

600 trees have already been planted in the Dukes of London grove which is fantastic news. We’re really inspired by Trees for Life’s work; creating and developing native woodlands abundant in wildlife, and protecting them for generations to come. You can find out more here.

We’re proud of the strict sourcing policies we have for all our products at Dukes of London.       As always, feel free to ask any questions you might have.

Our creative corner of London

If you’ve ever popped into our showroom, you’ll know that we’re based in Shoreditch, the creative hub of London.

We love having a central base, so close to many of our client HQ’s. You are welcome to come into Dukes to see examples of our promotional merchandise, have a chat and get some visual inspiration for your projects.

Global businesses in glass towers like that we have a relaxed environment here at Dukes in Shoreditch; come and talk through your creative briefs with us with a good coffee and a Danish. We share our building with a fashion house and digital agency, and nearby is the independent arts venue Rich Mix, where we sometimes exhibit.

We know that timescales can sometimes be tight when you need good branded merchandise quickly. Our central location and helpful teams mean that we can run samples down to you at your office and discuss products face to face.

We’re reliable people who work really hard to source, craft and deliver your promotional merchandise. But we like to have fun too! Next time you come to Shoreditch, we’ll point out to you the street food Meccas ‘Pump’ and ‘Block’ and DJ hangout ‘XOYO’.

It’s a fascinating and diverse area, and as a team we benefit from soaking up the vibrant, creative atmosphere.


Sound & selfie companion

We're always on the look out for new and exciting ideas for your promotional merchandise. This month a wireless speaker presented in an adorable shape caught our eye – the Xoopar Boy Mini.

Not only does it surprise with its rich deep sound for the 3 inch size and modest price of £19.95*, but you can also pair it with your phone or tablet to function as a selfie remote. Handy when the lure of a #me is irresistible!

Compact and powerful, the super-portable Bluetooth Xoopar Boy Mini speaker has a built-in rechargeable battery and provides up to 3 hours play time.

Available in grey, black, lime green, mint green, orange or pink, ask us to create a visual of how your logo will look printed on this little character. With him perched on a desk next to an iBook and pot plant, your brand will be remembered.

*19.95 per unit based on 1000 pcs, with 1 colour print, excludes set up and delivery. Lead time 5 weeks from artwork approval.

Dukes wins Diverse Supplier of the Year 2016

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On 14th April 2016, Barclays hosted its third Supplier Awards to celebrate the contributions of suppliers who have exceeded expectation. From a global supply base of thousands, Dukes was announced Diverse Supplier of the Year in recognition for our work in making the branded Barclays promotional store more diverse and eco-friendly, whilst improving customer service levels, and delivering cost and control benefits.

Exclusive Product: The iBeani

An exclusive product for the promotional market, the iBeani tablet cushion is a versatile bean bag stand for any tablet computer, including iPads and Kindles. You can use it anywhere, at any angle and on any surface.

Brand your iBeani with an embroidered company logo or tagline

Available in multi, black, aqua, mid-blue, dark blue, red, yellow, lime green or custom pattern/shape from 250 pieces

Cost: £14,79 each (£24.99 RRP) based on 25+ pieces