The approach to garment design and fabrications as we move through 2022 into 2023, once again, yields to the younger Gen-Z and Millennial demographics. Product development continues to be driven by a continued emphasis on colour, higher cotton content and, of course, sustainability. Even basic apparel will include flashes of fashion and require a steady performance.
“Gen-Z and Millennials will continue to lean into the comfort trend into 2023,” says Kristen Vincent, merchandise manager, JERZEES, Fruit of the Loom, Russell Athletic. “Athleisure was becoming a way of life pre-pandemic, and the pandemic accelerated this trend into the workforce. These demographics will have a hard time moving away from the work-at-home uniform for future seasons. Soft, ring-spun fabrications combined with relaxed silhouettes are a must.”
The Gen-Z and Millennial generations have made it clear to manufacturers that sustainability is and will continue to be top of mind when purchasing decisions are made. It’s about more than just sustainable fabrications. It also is about what companies are doing to better people and the planet.
Post-COVID, it seems as if the situation is finally turning around. “The supply channel has improved,” says Greg Brown, chief operating officer, CitadelBrands. “Items that were delayed are now able to be delivered on a more consistent basis.”
Marcus Davis, product development manager for HanesBrands Printwear, adds that today’s designs still are influenced by that time spent during COVID, with comfort as a key influencer for what consumers want: looser fitting and oversized apparel. The supply chain still can cause disruptions, however.
“With ongoing challenges to the supply chain, there is a movement in the market for a more minimalistic approach to products,” Davis says. “It only takes one of the parts or pieces to have supply chain issues. Then suddenly, the entire product becomes a challenge to service. As companies are looking to minimise these disruptions, they are designing products with fewer components.”
Brown adds that higher costs are hitting from all angles, from manufacturing and freight costs to employee retention and a demand for higher wages.
Vincent says that while companies have historically sourced from overseas countries, such as Asia, different sources are emerging, such as Central America. This causes a constraint on the supply chain. Within the apparel industry, yarn supply is also a challenge, she adds, since recycled polyester demand has increased and yarns are being brought in from the East. This pushes out sustainable product lead times significantly.
According to Brown, the year 2023 will be when inventory levels will provide the most consistency. When that happens, the development side of creating something different will drive the next design wave.
Vincent believes that in 2023, the “less is more” theory will apply. “Key styles are being elevated with a simple colour refresh or a treatment, such as garment dying,” she says. “Less is more, and versatility and durability are key buying habits that we will see into 2023. Colours will carry over multiple seasons and will be ‘genderless.’”
Davis adds that one key style to note is the fleece crew, since it’s a gender-neutral piece and a classic style that works with every wardrobe. While a fleece hoodie may feel a little too casual and relaxed for work, the crew can be layered and dressed up or down.
The vintage look will continue to be a winning option. The vintage, washed-out looks will continue to perpetuate a growing segment, and denim seems to keep reinventing itself. It’s timeless and always has a place in apparel.
“There’s always a new twist, with fabrics or fit or with a minimalistic approach,” Davis says. “But there’s no slowing down of looking backward for inspiration. That also includes colour, such as vintage colour palettes, softer pastels and garment-dyed washes. You’ll see updated fabrications and silhouettes, but garment dye gives it a vintage appeal.”
Vincent agrees that apparel will continue to trend as people want to re-live the good times. “For 2022, we launched a couple of pieces that are inspired from our own archives. These are comfortable fleece hoodies that are great for schools, events, company logos as they are ‘walking billboards.’”
She believes the main trend in outerwear, however, is going to be brighter colours. “The new neutrals and utilitarian-inspired colours, such as green moss or vintage white, will continue to be mainstays in streetwear,” Vincent says. “But the brights will be refreshing and create a positive outlook for our future.”
Blends, Textures and Colours
In the year 2023, consumers will make more conscious buying decisions, says Vincent. “Better, versatile products that will last longer will be important and, therefore, colour also will follow suit. In addition, utilitarian aspects, workwear inspiration and outdoor influences are key.”
Vincent’s company recently launched a fleece hoodie in colours called “Sweet Cream Heather,” “Golden Pecan,” “Blush Pink,” “Sage,” “Mustard Heather,” “Military Green,” and “Heather Denim.”
“These colours are earth derived, tapping into the Great Outdoors movement with a heightened sense of ecological awareness,” she says. “We refer to these colours as the ‘New Neutrals.’”
The Case for DTF
Buzzworthy decoration techniques, such as DTF printing and hybrid printing, give customers an easier option for smaller jobs. More important, these methods provide the options to print the one-offs when something is needed as an add-on. Though it can be more expensive, the simplistic method and quality of printing drives positives for all customer needs.
“The versatility of something like DTF is perfect for outerwear, which can be a fleece crew or anorak or parka,” Davis says. “So, the variety of fabrics are broad. For example, there are even low-heat application transfers that lend themselves to lightweight polyester outerwear items, which are heat sensitive. The innovation around DTF is wonderful for something like outerwear.”
Davis adds that the cost of entry with outerwear is significantly higher than with tees. The ability to print on demand, rather than having to preprint samples, makes the industry more accessible. And that means there is less of a financial commitment and risk.
Jennifer Morrell is an award-winning writer who has written for a number of national consumer and trade publications. For more information or to comment on this article, email Jennifer at email@example.com.
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