The Shifting Shore
RACKING FASHION TRENDS can be difficult. The task is sometimes similar to watching ocean waves repeatedly wash over a beach, then trying to guess the forthcoming shape of the shore. Everyone knows the water will inevitably change the sand, but the exact appearance it will take is seemingly impossible to guess.
T-shirts are especially guilty of this watery fashion unpredictability, being a highly competitive product that also happens to closely follow retail trends. Luckily, it isn’t necessary to wander along a wet shore, desperately looking for a pattern in scattered seaweed and broken shells. There are, after all, figurative oceanographers out there who make their living accounting for every shifting grain of sand on the beach of style. Two such “fashion oceanographers,” Andrea L. Engel, vice president of merchandising for Trevose, Pennsylvania-based BroderBros., and Kimberly Pfeil, national account manager for Los Angeles-based Alternative Apparel, shared a few of their insights with Promo Marketing.
Among the more interesting trends Engel mentioned are changes in T-shirt colors and patterns. “From a color perspective, we’re really seeing movement [since] fall of last year, into brighter jewel tones and more and more color,” she said. Surprisingly, when asked to explain why, Engel pointed to the troubled economy. “I think it’s a trend when the economy is tough, generally colors get brighter. People kind of look for something to make them [happy]. Even if you just see what’s at retail, you’ll see less and less black,” she said.
Stemming from this shift in basic coloration, Engel mentioned two color patterns that warrant watching. The first, a natural outgrowth of the move toward brighter colors, is tie-dye. Although it hasn’t been taking the industry by storm, an increase in demand can be seen on the horizon. “If it’s done in a more muted way, not quite the traditional hippie version, I think that could be something that could start trending,” she said.
Engel also highlighted camouflage designs as a pattern to watch. It’s trending a little differently than basic colors or tie-dye, and Engel named the political climate as a factor governing its popularity. She said that the new administration’s foreign policy decisions could cause camo patterns to wax or wane in stylishness.