Soften the Sell
ALL ARE NOT EQUAL
Fleece can vary in weight, density and overall durability. Chen explained how Landway makes its soft fleece. "We use double [the] number of yarns in our fleece, which doubles the density and achieves better color consistency," he said.
Shah noted that adding extra features, like wicking, will depend on the intended use. "If the client is looking for performance features, you may offer them a fleece piece that includes moisture-wicking and active-inspired features, including storm cuffs with thumbholes," she explained. "If your client is looking for warmth and comfort, an anti-pill fleece jacket will keep them warm and protected."
Anti-pilling is also important when it comes to durability, Chen noted. "We want fleece to look the same even after machine washing and drying for over a year," he said.
IMPRINT OF CHOICE
Chen suggested embroidery as the go-to imprint method. "The color of the threads and slightly raised logo makes the fleece look even more rich," he said.
Shah agreed that embroidery is traditional for anti-pill fleece, but suggested another option for activewear fleece. "For a brushed-back performance fleece piece, heat seal looks great and offers a more updated/active look to the garment," she said.
So what is new in the fleece genre? Both the look and feel of fleece are changing. In terms of appearance, major retail brands are leading the way with bold colors. In addition to heathered colors expanding beyond gray, bright fleeces are gaining attention. "Folks in the promo industry are looking for colors other than the traditional black, navy and charcoal. … People want to wear current, in-style colors," Chen said. "And not just traditional bright colors, like red and purple, but new color shades that show off performance and confidence, like electric blue, lime green, deep burnt orange."