Pitch These New Apparel Trends and Decorating Tips
From the fields to the factories, the fashion industry is evolving its practices to meet the requests of conscious end-users everywhere. While trends used to focus on the latest coveted colors and patterns, consumers are increasingly concerned with where and how their products are made and what ideas they’re supporting by wearing them.
This awareness has elevated the apparel industry far beyond a popularity contest, but a means by which consumers express themselves and their businesses. Sales reps must be ready for more intimate and detailed conversations with customers, and hone their listening skills to meet multidimensional goals.
Here are five new apparel trends that will lead you into meaningful — and profitable — conversations with new and current customers this year.
1. Sustainable Fashion: Sustainability is a constant topic of conversation in the fashion industry. According to Pinterest data, searches for “sustainable fashion” increased 34% in 2018, and consumers expect suppliers to be more transparent with their sourcing, manufacturing, and inventory processes. Lines that highlight organic materials (think hemp and bamboo), pay fair wages to factory workers, and use upcycling programs are in the spotlight, and these points are necessary education in sales discussions.
Decoration tip: Pair garments with eco-friendly decoration techniques and partner with shops that are Sustainable Green Printing-certified to ensure that the finished product is truly sustainable.
2. Neutrals: Although fast fashion has named dozens of micro-seasons per year, the bread-and-butter of apparel will always be the timeless basics — garments in neutral colors that can be layered and worn year-round. Beige, light yellow, pale pink, and other easy-on-the-eyes hues are adored by industries from wellness and spa to insurance and tech.
Sales tip: Neutral shades provide a blank canvas that doesn’t compete with a company’s messaging. Decorate with bold colors and geometric design for stand-out branding, or use a water-based discharge technique for a simple, vintage look.
3. Flannel: History is certainly repeating itself with flannel fashion — and our grandparents (and our 1990s selves) would be mighty proud. Relevant for their layering capabilities, bold checkerboard colors and comfortable, soft fabric, flannels appeal to all age groups and are popping up in industries across the board. They’re ideal for a variety of campaigns and lend themselves well to companies wanting to infuse employee uniforms with personal style.
Decoration tip: Flannels portray a laid-back, down-to-earth vibe. Encourage customers to keep their branding to a minimum to avoid clashing with the messaging that the piece provides on its own.
4. Bold Athleisure: Joggers, yoga pants, cropped hoodies, flat-brimmed hats — these items represent a booming category in mainstream fashion: athleisure. And as it grows, it’s getting racier and more bold, with stylish slits, mesh panels, and color-blocking features on many product options. Consumers want comfortable and well-fitted garments that can be worn from the gym to the grocery store to the friend’s house for dinner, and athleisure checks those boxes.
Sales tip: Pitch athleisure items to companies focused on ROI, as these garments are worn more frequently than almost any other category of apparel. Costs per impression for athleisure can be as low as a few cents.
5. More Messaging: In the age of 24/7 media cycles, it seems everyone has a message to share. Industry experts predict that branded apparel will follow this trend, with messaging taking a front seat to imprints. Funny or evocative phrases are replacing images, and consumers are using clever phrases to connect with their followers and help them feel included in a particular cause or lifestyle.
Decoration tip: Because the words speak for themselves, decoration doesn’t have to be over the top. One-color, tonal printing is enough for passersby to absorb the message.
Ultimately, consumers use fashion to express themselves, whether that’s an opinion, an affiliation, or even a mood. By providing apparel solutions to your customers, you’re helping them build connections, position themselves in the world and articulate their inner life — a gift that end-users will come back to receive time and time again
Ed Levy has more than 25 years of apparel-decorating experience. Levy, who’s director of software technologies for Hirsch Solutions, is an in-demand speaker at trade show and regular contributor to industry magazines.