The Future of Fleece
Whether it's being made from recycled materials, having any number of advanced performance features for athletics, or merely featuring strategically placed pocket to hold an MP3 player, it's obvious that the cutting edge of apparel technology is present in fleece apparel. This connection to high-tech design exerts a visual influence, pushing many pieces to appear more modern and fashion-forward through functional additions like ventilated fabric blocks, numerous pockets and even an overall lighter fabric weight. Of course, fashion-forward, high-performance items tend to be adopted by fashion-forward, performance-demanding crowds, who in turn seek out more stylish and modern clothing with even more features, which then makes for more advanced apparel, which leads to a more savvy crowd, which …
We can all see where this is going, and while it may seem daunting, there is no need to worry. Following the styles of a high-tech, high-fashion item like fleece is no different than any other: pin down the trends in its appearance, ways to tailor the product for a particular market, and the nuances of printing on the item, and everything else should come easily.
In regards to style trends, with fleece it's all about sleekness and modernity. "While there are more basic styles that will always do well … we're seeing growth in fleece jackets that have a more modern style to them," said Danny Tsai, vice president, merchandising, for Irwindale, California-based Tri-Mountain. "Things like additional pockets, a sleeker silhouette, contrasting colors and the like that you are probably used to seeing more on jackets are becoming more important to incorporate into both the fleece and vest categories."
Tsai noted that part of the reason for this shift to more modern designs was the rising demand for lighter-weight fleece items, such as apparel made from micro or poly-knit fleece. "These fabrics have the effect of making items look sleeker and more modern, while still preserving the warmth that customers inherently want from these items," he explained.