WHAT CAN ANYONE say about sweatshirts that hasn’t already been beaten to death? They’re warm, casual and have pretty much maintained status quo since their inception, right?
The developments might not be earth-
shattering, but they’ve happened—helping to make the sweatshirt not only an item of utility, but a garment that’s fashionably viable. Here are four new ways to position the sweatshirt as a solid addition to any apparel program.
1) Vintage styling transcends all apparel categories.
The concept of “vintage” is very nearly as popular as the ever-salable green phenomenon. Rather unsurprisingly, these little style details are now being seen in sweatshirts. When asked what was going to be big moving forward, Margaret Crow, marketing director at Bolingbook, Illinois-based S&S Activewear, said simply, “Anything with raw edges.”
New products made to look old? It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s a trend worth noting, especially for sweatshirts, which tend to skew a little younger for its target wearer. Crow pointed to pigment dyeing as one of the processes that can contribute to a distressed look. And though she laughingly gave the disclaimer that she isn’t an expert in various garment-dyeing processes, she did describe its effect in layman’s terms: “It just gives that kind of washed, worn, really comfortable look.”
2) Fabric is what really counts.
Funnily enough, one point in which sweatshirts diverge sharply from the T-shirt trajectory is fabric weight. Of course, since the whole point of a sweatshirt is increased warmth, the basis for comparison is limited. But natural bulkiness aside, heavier sweatshirts seem to be gaining traction, even as T-shirts have gotten noticeably more lightweight (ideal for layering), Crow said. In particular, she noted the 11 oz. weight is really popular.
Other changes in garment construction are happening over at American Apparel as well. According to Mark Smalley, marketing production manager for the Los Angeles-based company, “Flex fleece is a big definitive direction,” in contrast to a sweatshirt selection that heretofore was mainly crafted from California fleece (all cotton). He describes the fabric as a poly-cotton mixture that maintains its shape better, even after numerous washes.
3) Hoodies are still an essential style statement.
Although (ready or not) an ’80s fashion redux has been quietly inching its way back into retail stores and urban scenester wardrobes, don’t expect to see crewneck sweatshirts coming back quite yet. There is, said Smalley, “more of a preference toward hoods,” adding it’s a perennially stylish look, especially
Likewise, Crow as well as Stefan Bergill, East Coast sales for Petaluma, California-based Econscious, both maintained hoodies (pullovers and zip-up styles) as being the reigning design to date.
4) Little extras kick the classic design up a notch.
But despite the masses’ predilection toward hooded sweatshirts, the garment’s design principles are in constant rotation. Crow pointed to a J. America style carried by S&S with some trendy touches as an example: “This one is really popular because the outside is polyester, so it’s a little shiny.” And that’s not the only addition that has made the style a hit on the trade-show circuit. She mentioned a few of its other extras, which include a seam across the chest as well as an inner zipper that allows
Further, Crow noted camouflage is “hugely popular,” as well as a hooded sweatshirt with a lace-up neckline (hockey-style).