The Future of Looking Good
New styles? Again? Didn't we just go through this last year?
Well, yes, but keeping up on this stuff is important, we promise. True, you may be able to get by on selling the basics season after season, but playing it safe has its risks. For one, the longer you neglect keeping up on style trends, the greater your chances are of becoming that bewildered, out-of-touch person yelling, "those darn kids with their tweeters and Xboxes, why don't they want to buy my promotional hoop skirts?"
No one wants to be that person, waving his or her fist in the air, mumbling about rock candy and how no one appreciates premium whalebone ribbing in skirts anymore. So do yourself a favor and take a look at what some industry experts on style are talking about in different areas of apparel fashion for 2010.
With T-shirts, look for fabric experimentations that create vintage or aged looks to continue increasing in popularity. "Treatments such as burnout and distressed fabrics are becoming more mainstream," said Margaret Crow, marketing director for S&S Activewear, Bolingbrook, Ill. She added also that slub fabrics were becoming more common in T-shirt composition.
"Slub" refers to cotton that has become twisted and bunched during the weaving process. Previously considered a waste product, slub fabrics are seeing more use in apparel today because of how their wavy, striated threads can be made into fabrics with distressed appearances and textures. How distressed the fabric appears can vary depending on designer intent, but the fabrics will typically have some degree of a rougher, more vintage feel.
At bottom, first image from left: S&S Activewear's Colorado Trading Soybu Ladies' Slub Short Sleeve T-shirt is made with slub cotton, as well as bamboo, soy and spandex. (800) 523-2155
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Women's apparel, especially in T-shirts, will continue to move farther from the designs offered to men. "Asymmetrical styles with long, flowing silhouettes will continue to grow in popularity due to their figure-flattering shape and ease of movement," said Molly Raney, PR, media, events manager for Alternative Apparel, Norcross, Ga. She also mentioned more would be seen of '09s' sheer trend, mostly in soft, feminine detailing and draping. As for colors, she saw subdued hues such as lilac and seafoam being key, as well as earth tones and nuanced shades of red.
Kirwei Lo, marketing communications specialist for BroderBros., Trevose, Penn., added: "[A] recent trend that Vogue has reported on is that sweatshirts, sweat pants (think cropped and fitted for women) and fleece dresses are making a comeback to becoming fashionable. This trend will be interesting to follow as it makes (or doesn't make) an impact on our industry."
At bottom, second image from left: Alternative Apparel's Modal Silk Boyfriend Tee is designed to be sheer, have an oversized fit and feminine drape.(888) 481-4287
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Nearly every supplier interviewed mentioned either brights, or more specifically, 80s-style neons as a predominant color trend. Said Gina Gaudet, designer for Charles River Apparel, Sharon, Mass., "Corporations are becoming more comfortable with new colors, as opposed to just staying with their official corporate colors or the traditional navy or black." In addition to bright and retro '80s colors, she noted plums, corals, dusty blues and turquoise as less-conventional hues becoming more common. Gaudet recommended distributors keep some of these distinctive colors on hand to show clients, as certain hues, like coral for example, can be harder to visualize. "Your customers will probably never buy as much coral as they would the basics (like black), but that one 'wow' color you are showing could really get their attention."
At bottom, third image from left: The Women's New Englander Rain Jacket from Charles River Apparel is available in the less conventional hues of buttercup, pink/reflective and coral/reflective (shown). (800) 225-0550
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JACKETS AND OUTERWEAR
In regards to men's jackets, Alisa Buckner, merchandise and marketing director for Dunbrooke, Independence, Mo., said, "Trench coats and full-length great coats are out, replaced by shorter, edgier jackets." By "shorter," she explained the jacket should fall at about mid-thigh. She also recommended sticking with solid colors matched to apparel underneath, pointing out black, navy and charcoal as the safest and most broadly matchable choices.
Gaudet also offered a few tips for both men's and women's jackets. "Distributors should be aware that the retail trends are lending themselves more toward exposed zippers at pockets for additional detailing on jackets," she said. Gaudet added that she still sees women's belted jackets, as well as bomber and biker-styled silhouettes, continuing to trend positively. She warned, however, that outerwear too fashion-forward can harm a promotion, and distributors should take care to pick products that have enough stylistic longevity to last throughout their program.
At bottom, fourth image from left: Dunbrooke's Venture jacket illustrates the shorter length and safer colors, as well as extra detailing and emphasis on pockets. (800) 641-3627
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Look for organic fabrics to start catching up with the coloration options of their non-organic peers. Christopher Levesque, vice president of marketing for Anvil Knitwear, New York, explained that until recently, it was very hard for Anvil Knitwear to find brighter organic dyes up to the company's environmental standards (brightly colored apparel often depends on very potent chemical dyes). "This is no longer the case," said Levesque, who mentioned that in 2010, Anvil's classic organic tees would be available in Mandarin orange, spring yellow and green apple. "Not only do these … colors marry well with Anvil's sustainability philosophy, but they complement the current consumer demand for brighter colors."
At bottom, fifth image from left: The AnvilSustainable Transitional Cotton Tee, from Anvil Knitwear, uses cotton from farms transitioning to organic growth, and also contains recycled PET. (800) 223-0332
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Meaghan Dunn, creative director for Philadelphia-based Executive Apparel, described a few shifts in fashion for a subset of oxfords: women's blouses. "Sleeves are being worn shorter today for convenience and comfort (3/4 and short sleeves are very desirable) so as not to interfere with daily activities," she said. Dunn predicted that fabrics with a little added stretch would be appearing more, due to their overall more flattering fit, and mentioned a finer weave as another potential fabric trend. "The oxford cloth itself typically has a wide variety of 'finishes' which we feel tend to be a little rough," she said. "As a result, our oxford version is woven much finer, which helps to increase softness and reduce 'see-through' issues in the uniform industry."
At bottom, fourth image from right: The Ladies Easy Stretch Service-3/4 Sleeve Blouse from Executive Apparel is available in blue or white and is a 92/8 poly/spandex blend. (800) 227-3932
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Distributors looking for fashion-forward embellishments have a lot of options to consider. Wendy Gray, director of creative services for Vantage Apparel, Avenel, N.J., mentioned faux embroidery as a popular option, which she described as, "where we screen print a garment to look like it is stitched with embroidery." She also mentioned sequin embroidery and laser etching as two choices growing in popularity.
Cynthia Ng, director of marketing, print media, for Boxercraft, Atlanta, backed up the popularity of laser etching. "The frayed edges of the [laser-cut] lettering gives garments that cool, vintage look," she said. Ng and Jamie Henry, product development associate for Boxercraft, also noted that mixed media embellishments, a pairing of two different decoration methods like foil printing with solid inks, would continue to be popular.
At bottom, third image from right: The Unisex Headliner Hoodie from Boxercraft showcases a mixed-media design of knockout appliqué and print. (800) 914-7774
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For fleece, traditional still seems to be the way to go. "In our industry we try not to get too trendy because our styles get put in programs that could last for years, and trendy styles don't do too well for these applications," said Lori Anderson, marketing manager for River's End Trading Company, Hopkins, Minn. She suggested looking for items that decorate well, are broad in stylistic appeal, and to stick to proven colors like red, navy and black.
If you are interested in a little edgier look, there are some options. "'Novelty fleeces' (including faux furs and soft silk-like fleece), as well as textured fleece, are immensely popular at retail right now and are making their way into our industry," said Gaudet.
At bottom, second image from right: The Columbia Women's Benton Springs Full Zip Jacket from River's End Trading Company is 100 percent polyester fleece and is available in charcoal, beet, black, navy and winter white (shown). (800) 488-4800
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ACTIVEWEAR AND GOLF APPAREL
Tim Stiene, vice president for Whispering Pine Sportswear, Monroe, N.C., named contrasting mesh inserts and piping as style treatments slated to show up on the company's future activewear tees. He mentioned also that buyers of golf apparel are becoming more interested in retail styles, as well as performance features like moisture wicking.
Buckner added that other style features popular in performance and golf apparel are those that add to comfort and ease of movement, such as ribbing, which gives the garment a clean look and keeps it from bunching up or hanging.
At bottom, first image from right: The Men?'s 100 Percent Polyester Willowtec Cool Mesh Golf Shirt from Whispering Pines Sportswear features anti-microbial and moisture-wicking treatments. (800) 548-4710
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