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December 2016

17 Apparel Trends for ’17

Lebron James sports a Everything Old Is New Again. More than a song title, it’s an apt description of the fashion cycle we’re about to see in the coming year, according to a recent feature in Advantages magazine. Retro and vintage pieces are making a comeback; styles are moving from “has-been” to “must-have”.

1) The Dad Hat Is Back

The “dad hat” is an unstructured cotton or canvas baseball cap that has a slightly curved bill and, most characteristically, a strap back. The term was originally pejorative — a way fashion-forward millennials who liked flat-bill caps could mock uncool, outdated hats dads wore to Little League games and barbecues. Well, now it seems the dad hat is getting the last laugh. From counter-culture hipsters to college kids, skateboarders to major celebrities, a crosssection of fashion-conscious people are donning the formerly unhip hats. Indeed, style luminary Lebron James even sported one during the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA championship victory parade.

2) Heather is Hot

heathered fabrics are appearing in more styles than everGarments that feature heathered fabric may just be the hottest trend of 2017. Heather refers to interwoven yarns of mixed colors producing flecks of an alternate color. Often, heathered fabrications involve multiple shades of gray or gray with another color to produce a muted shade. However, any colors – including bright ones – can be mixed in heathered arrangements.

Heading into next year, expect heathered fabrics to populate categories that include polos, T-shirts and fleece. “The heathered pattern is a great way to step up and add interest to fleece apparel, but in a subtle way,” says Danny Tsai, VP of merchandising at Tri-Mountain Apparel. If you’re a football fan, you may have already seen a key heathered trend on the sidelines: Coaches have worn polo shirts that feature heathered elements in colorblocked designs. During warmer weather games this fall, Notre Dame coaches frequently had on polos that included heathered fabric at the shoulder, collar and sleeves.

3) Short-Sleeve Sweatshirts

Short sleeve sweatshirtLong and short sleeve options are common in T-shirts and polo shirts, but sweatshirts are traditionally long-sleeve. But who doesn’t love the soft touch of fleece? So why not extend the options? Short-sleeve sweatshirts will carry a cool cachet in 2017, especially with women. “From basic fleece to short cropped tops, the fleece short-sleeve sweatshirt is an item every girl should have in her closet,” says Jamie Henry, product development manager at apparel manufacturer Boxercraft.

4) Harkening to the Tee’s Heritage

Vintage T-shirt styles are backIn the T-shirt category, heritage styles that are popular at retail will be in high demand for branded and promotional apparel, says John Spivey, marketing manager for Hanes/Champion. “Ringer tees, baseball tees and varsity tees are transitioning smoothly into the promotional apparel market,” Spivey says. While the retro look of these shirts is enticing, end-users also want contemporary performance features. That’s why Hanes added moisture-wicking and cooling attributes to its Hanes X-Temp Baseball T-shirt (shown here). Yet another example where old meets new.

5) Blocks of Color

Color block shirts provide a striking contrastColorblocking will add pizzazz to polos and T-shirts. The term refers to large sections of a shirt being in contrasting colors, as compared to solids, stripes, or plaids. Color block shirts have been around for 20 years or more, but expect a jump in popularity this year. The Sport-Tek CamoHex Colorblock Tee is a good example of the trend as it pertains to performance T-shirts.

6) More Print Patterns in Polos

Vintage T-shirt styles are backTraditional menswear prints associated with wovens have expanded into the polo shirt category. “Gingham, checks and tattersall provide a break from the norm,” says Gina Barreca, director of marketing at Vantage Apparel. And on the subject of polos: Popular colors at retail include saturated shades of navy, blue and indigo, so expect those hues to figure prominently in the branded apparel marketplace. Designers are also using bright neon sport colors in blocks and tipping in next year’s polo shirt collections. Lastly, it should go without saying that performance features — like moisture wicking and odor control — will remain on buyers’ wish lists.

7) Sporty Scuba Neck

Vintage T-shirt styles are backWhen brands like Lululemon and Under Armour feature a style, you know it’s huge. Such is the case with scuba necks on hooded sweatshirts. Adding practical warmth and sharp zipped-up style, scuba necks are now adorning performance hoodies in the promotional products industry. An example is the Augusta Zeal Hooded Pullover, shown here.

8) Pleats

Pleats are popular“Designers are using pleats in different ways to create interest and dimension,” says Jennifer Tsai, of Tri-Mountain. “From side pleats to barely-there pleats, this is a great way to dress up a style or staple.” Check out how simple pleating elevates elegance in Tri-Mountain’s Elle blouse shown here. The Elle features a scoop neck and pleated cap sleeves.

9) Insect-Repelling Apparel

Insect-repellent clothingPerformance wear is evolving with fresh innovations that aim to go beyond moisture wicking and antimicrobial. Expert Brand, for example, recently partnered with Nobitech to offer revolutionary clothing that repels ticks, ants, flies, fleas, chiggers, midges and mosquitoes, including the one that carries the Zika virus. The bug-battling garments feature Skintex technology, which uses permethrin, a contact insecticide that damages the nervous systems of insects and kills them. “From our water-resistant jackets to hoodies to performance tees and pants, you’ll see a lot of familiar Expert Brand pieces within this technologically advanced Nobitech collection,” says Sion Shaman, VP of sales at Expert Brand.

10) Slub Chic

shirt with slub fabricationFor several years, buyer interest in T-shirts featuring slub fabrications has been growing. Suppliers believe the trend will take off in both the men’s and women’s categories in 2017, especially on campuses and at schools, and with fashion-forward clients. At their best, slub fabrics present an organic image that’s rich with an element of vintage Americana.

11) The Return of Pink

Pink is always in fashionFor women’s apparel colors in 2017, trend spotters are expecting a return to femininity – and that translates to many manifestations of pink. “Pink has been a strong feature on the Fall/Winter 2016-2017 catwalks,” says Jennifer Tsai of Tri-Mountain. “This quintessentially feminine color is everywhere. It ranges from pale pink, to blush rose and bright magenta.” October breast cancer initiatives are not the only time pink can make a strong style statement.

12) Olive Green Activewear

Pleats are popular“I see olive green being a more predominant color in activewear,” says Leah Hulon, designer at Expert Brand. “Also, there will be a big push for indigo; an offshoot of this will be different variations of teal and jade.”

13) Woven in Denim and Flannel

denim shirts are popularCotton-based denim and flannel woven shirts are important components of any retail collections headed into 2017. Our suppliers expect the trend will continue expanding in branded apparel. Artsy brands keen to convey a hip image may be particularly interested in the styles, says Gina Barreca, director of marketing at Vantage Apparel. Think startup technology companies, organic food purveyors and makers of eco-friendly products. Of course, denim and flannel wovens — especially lighter-weight, sleeker styles — can be a sound brand investment for anyone interested in projecting a youthful image or courting a millennial generation audience.

14) Button-down Performance

button-down dress shirts can be made of performance fabricsWhile denim and flannel wovens are making inroads, they’re not about to supplant more corporate-image button-downs in the branded apparel realm. Bet on it that performance wovens featuring moisture-wicking fabrics and stretchy materials will remain in high demand. Gingham, tattersall and Bengal stripe are among the patterned looks that, along with crisp solids, will be popular.

15) Accented with Camo

camo shirts are appearing that use camo as an accent instead of overall printCamouflage-patterned apparel is hardly an emerging trend, but it is one that is likely to stay strong in 2017, conveying an outdoorsy image with country-cool appeal. In addition to full-coverage camo patterns, anticipate that designers will use camo as an accent in caps, fleeces and shirts. Caps, for example, will feature mesh backs and camouflage fronts. Camo will also certainly be accenting women’s pieces, as shown by the pictured Port Authority Ladies Camouflage Microfleece Full-Zip Jacket

16) Oversized is In

oversized garments are a hot new trendThe craze for oversized T-shirts, jerseys and sweatshirts is reaching a fever pitch at retail. The mania will continue growing in the promo industry, too, especially within the education and hospitality markets. “Oversized creates extra comfort for all while being extremely on trend,” says Jamie Henry, product development manager at Boxercraft.

17) Puffed Up, Slimmed Down, Retro-Inspired

puffy jackets are warm yet not bulkyIn the arena of corporate outerwear, several distinct styles will be among the most sought-after looks. They include puffer jackets and soft-shell bonded jackets that deliver warmth without bulk. These jackets provide a polished, retail-inspired appearance that is perfect for executives, sales professionals, engineers, construction managers and more. That said, there’s also an element of old-school running through the outerwear category, with retro-style windbreakers and coaches jackets back in the limelight.


Whether you want to be on the cutting edge of apparel trends, or maintain a more traditional image, call on APTCO to supply the best in printed and embroidered apparel for your team.

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