The Future of Fleece
FITTING IN AND FILLING OUT
While a light weight and sporty flourishes are currently the defining trends of fleece styles, there is a great variety of range in how they are incorporated into specific pieces. As with any apparel item, it is best to consider who the end-users are, and incorporate popular styles as appropriate.
Products meant for athletic markets will likely hew closely to lightweight, modern designs, making use of techniques like color and fabric blocking to create a sporty look. "You might also find additional construction details in an athletic piece, such as stretch binding at the cuffs, or hidden seam pockets to keep the sleek appearance of the garment," said Gina Barreca, director of marketing for Vantage Apparel, Avenel, N.J.
Unlike their sportier counterparts, corporate pieces will tend not only to have a more basic silhouette, but also be heavier in fabric weight. Fleece meant for cold weather or outdoor work, heavier still. "Due to the nature of the work environments, a workwear jacket may need to be a heavier weight in order to withstand the outdoor elements," said Jessica Strain, sales and marketing administrator for Dri Duck Traders, Overland Park, Kan. So while sleek and modern may still be in for such markets, it is in a more reserved or basic capacity.
MAKING A MARK
Embroidery and screen printing are certainly viable choices for putting a logo on fleece, but if you're looking to try something different, consider laser-etching. "We are seeing more and more of the laser burn/etching process on our Nano-Fleece collection and the results are phenomenal," said Strain. Barreca seconded laser etching's value. "The micro-fleece category is great for embroidery, laser etching and laser appliqué decoration methods," she said. "Vertical laser etching placements (down the chest or sleeve area) are very popular on the jacket styles." She pointed out as well that laser etching allows you to decorate over seams and zippers for unique placement options, and that fleeces with medium color tones will show the best contrasts. "[It's] a very-cost effective means of decorating while at the same time giving the garment a fresh, new look," said Strain.