2019 Style Preview: 5 Promotional Apparel Trends to Watch This Year
It’s hard to believe 2018 has already come and gone. It feels like just yesterday we were watching the Winter Olympics and fantasizing about what Meghan Markle’s wedding dress would look like. Along with those 2018 milestones, the year was also replete with major promotional apparel trends. Athleisure continued to take the world by storm, Logomania started a branding movement and bold hues were in high demand.
For 2019, we expect no shortage of new looks and updated styles. To help you navigate what’s on the horizon for promotional apparel, we asked three suppliers for their predictions. Here, Jennifer Oleksik, design and merchandising manager for LAT Apparel, Ball Ground, Ga.; Marcus Davis, product development for Hanesbrands Inc., Winston-Salem, N.C.; and Terry Chen, general manager for Landway International, Hayward, Calif., spotlighted some key trends.
1. Game-Day Looks
With athletic apparel holding its place at the top of the trend report, it’s no surprise that sports-inspired clothing and fan apparel are taking over the promotional apparel world.
“Gameday trends continue to dominate both the promotional and retail market,” said Oleksik. “Game day has become more relevant as a fashion trend and not just a sports-specific look. Colorblocking also continues to trend. It’s all about how to take the colorblocking and evolve it into fresh styling opportunities for 2019.”
Chen agreed athletic staples are getting a major upgrade in 2019.
“I think the classic old-school gym sweats look will continue on,” he said. “Champion is in the midst of an incredible comeback—they have new collections that are sold as trendy fashion pieces. Check out Todd Snyder x Champion line [for inspiration].”
Davis elaborated on some of the work Champion is doing under the Hanesbrands umbrella.
“Champion takes two heritage styles, the baseball and ringer tee, and updates them with ring-spun fabric,” he said. “This re-issue is a great example of two key apparel trends: retro style with updated, modern fabrication.”
2. Throwback Origins
Like Davis mentioned, vintage styles are making a comeback in 2019.
“Look for classic styles, but in new, ultra-soft fabrics,” he said. “Everything ’80s and ’90s is hot, but with ultra-soft, premium fabrics.”
The popular ’90s plaid look is also a key trend for 2019, and it’s a big component of Landway International’s upcoming collection.
“We are very excited to roll out our new Kodiak Fleece, a sweater-knit fleece in a buffalo check plaid pattern,” said Chen. “It’s classic Americana, well-made and very much in tune with the trendy hipster-inspired designs.”
For Oleksik, the throwback looks on her radar are vintage ringers and color-blocked options.
3. Gender-Neutral Styles
Even though unisex styles have always been a key player in the promotional apparel world, gender-neutral clothing is becoming a trend in its own way. Davis explained what end-users are looking for.
“As part of the trend toward gender-neutral apparel, unisex and ‘boyfriend’ tees are growing in popularity with women,” he said. “Midweight fabrics are gaining in popularity, also with a focus on unisex sizing.”
He also pointed out that garment-dyed apparel remains an important trend, mainly due to its look and feel.
4. Muted Colors
Bold hues took 2018 by storm. Fashion runways and Instagram influencers relied heavily on cherry reds, eye-catching oranges and neon yellows for their ensembles. In 2019, however, things seem to be going in the opposite direction. While Pantone has announced its color of the year is the cheery shade of Living Coral, our suppliers are setting their sights on more subtle options.
“Neutral palettes like greys, charcoals, naturals are very popular, as well as some more fashion colors that complement the neutral palettes, like military greens and mauves,” said Oleksik. “Camo continues to be a top pattern for 2019 and anything with a texture like a heathered blend.”
Chen also revealed that earthy tones and heathered looks will be a big part of Landway International’s 2019 rollout.
5. Soft Textures
As comfort and wearability become areas of increased emphasis for end-users, the texture of promotional apparel is driving trends, too.
“Visual texture is now just as important (if not more important) than actual ‘hand feel’ texture,” said Oleksik. “With online shopping continuing to take over, now more than ever, product has to have a strong visual presence on screen.
“Heathers, melanges, marls, all-over patterns—they are all relevant, and will continue to grow in popularity,” she continued. “Blends are also overtaking the market because they offer exceptional hand feel, an elevated appearance and great fit/drape on the body.”
For Hanesbrands, texture is a core component of the 2019 lineup. Davis provided two examples of some upcoming products that implement these unique, elevated fabrications for a visual effect.
“The Hanes Modal Triblend Crew is as soft as anything you would buy at retail,” he said. “It’s a blend of modal/combed ring-spin cotton/polyester. The Lenzing Modal triblend fabric uses sustainably resourced material, is CO2 neutral, and requires less energy to produce than other leading fibers in the apparel industry.”
Above all else, it’s still just as important as ever for promotional apparel suppliers and distributors to consider retail trends in order to keep up with what end-users are looking for.
“I think the ever-changing retail looks will continue to be what promotional buyers look for,” said Chen. “End-users seldom come back the next year for a similar look. They want the new and exciting, which puts pressure on distributors to keep looking for something different.”