Eye on Apparel: Prints Charming


Mixing prints and patterns has been accepted in high fashion for several years now, but we’ve only seen a glimpse of it in streetwear. Will 2018 be the year that consumers embrace this designer trend?

Florals are expected to be big in 2018, both for men and women, as gender-neutral styling becomes more in vogue. For upcoming spring clothing lines, designers experimented with mixing different florals or combining them with another style, such as a floral top with a bohemian-style skirt or pants. Some designers toned it down a bit by introducing a mix of patterns in the same color scheme, or a mix of colors in the same pattern, according to moodfabrics.com. 

“Maximalism is a trend buzzword as ’80s fashions are revived,” says Vicki Ostrom, trend editor for supplier SanMar (PPAI 110788). “Patterns are bold, with colorful patchworks of multiple patterns coming together within one print and oversized florals that are placed on aggressively bright backgrounds. Chunky, embroidered elements, such as popular red roses, are placed vertically down sleeves. Embroidery is such an important technique lately that it has also inspired overall prints that mimic the effect of embroidery.”

Traditionalists who shy away from the new florals may rest assured that the Hawaiian shirt is making a comeback, based on the menswear spring trend report from vogue.com. Understated textures and patterns—basketweave, gradient, heather, honeycomb, graph check, micro check and seersucker to name a few—are also a good bet. Steve Pinzon, marketing director for supplier AKWA apparel (PPAI 205981), says, “As long as the patterns are subtle or consistent, the logo still stands out, and they are excellent alternatives to solids.”

Men can also dip their toes into patterns by trying out decorated socks, which add pizzazz to both jeans and business suits.

“The patterned-sock market in our industry is continuing to expand due to universal and wide-range appeal,” says Gwen Kelly, customer relations and product safety manager for supplier Suntex Industries (PPAI 113094). “Millennials are wearing them as dress socks; lawyers, doctors, financial advisors and other corporate professionals are wearing them to work; and college students are wearing them everywhere.

“[Patterned sock trends] include sporty, dressy, classy and high-end,” she adds. “We see new materials being introduced that will be used in the production process to keep up with current fashion trends. Businesses are using them for corporate events, product introductions and brand recognition.”

A leading trend in patterns—all things camouflage—continues to be in demand by fashion-conscious consumers. “Camo has been popular for years now, but these days, abstract camo patterns are really driving the trend,” says Gary Mosley, owner of supplier Kati Sportcap & Bag (PPAI 113758). “Kryptek Camo (a new style that is more effective than ever in masking or blending for the human and animal eye) made a splash this year, and we expect that popularity to continue in 2018. Other abstract patterns, like digital camo, will also be in high demand.”

Mosley adds, “Camo has extended beyond the hunting segment. It’s more of a fashion statement now, which is why you’re seeing non-traditional patterns like pink camo and the Kryptek styles. These new patterns have attracted female customers, so we’ve seen significant growth in that market.”

The blurring of distinct seasons is also influencing who wears what, and when. “As weather patterns change and customers wear clothing that makes sense for each day, as opposed to dressing for a specific season, the old rules of color and pattern types no longer apply,” explains Ostrom. “There is now little difference between spring or fall-centric patterns. One leading print company has completely changed the way they do business, reducing their patterns to one season they call “spr-inter.”

The rule of thumb now is that there are no rules—if you can wear it with confidence, you can wear it.


Groovy Graphics

PPB asked Vicki Ostrom, SanMar trend editor, to give us the details on the latest print trends. Here’s what she told us to look for in 2018.

1. The tongue-in-cheek term “early-onset nostalgia” describes the reason we are seeing rapid revisits of generational t-shirt graphics trends. As Gen Xers and Millennials alike experience digital overload, nostalgia for the graphics of their respective ’70s, ’80s and ’90s youth feels right. A checklist of key trends include Cooper Black fonts with curvy text reminiscent of the ’70s, and comic book graphics from the late ’80s and early ’90s. 

2. Anti-fashion is in as well, with bad-taste, lo-fi photos of ’90s icons like Sade or Salt-N-Pepa as the evolution of band tee graphics that have been popular since summer 2016 continues. Crude neons in pink and green from the ’80s can also be seen in dashed, off script overlaying retro geometric shapes. Badly photocopied graphics from ’90s rave and club flyers are frequently seen on tees, as are singular lo-fi photos with no graphics. 

3. Overall, a big trend to note is unconventional graphic placements—photos or text that are off-center or lower than chest level look fresh, bringing newness to what are otherwise almost direct references from original garments.

4. Another big graphic trend that transcends generation or gender are statement graphics. Activist slogans, inclusive statements and phrases promoting self-acceptance are all popular, most often seen in bold, sans serif block letters on solid white, black or red backgrounds. Placement is key here, too, sometimes as ultra-small text placed near the neckline of a tee. Prose, filling an entire front or back, is also seen, as is text that tells a repetitive message either neatly stacked in a column or overlapping for a blurred effect.  

5. Global text is also gaining momentum, with message graphics taking on layered meaning when printed in languages from around the world.


Case Study

Just What The Doctor Ordered
As part of its annual foundation fundraiser, a hospital approached Elkton, Maryland distributor American Solution for Business (PPAI 674472) for promotional ideas. The hospital had recently launched “Bow Tie Tuesday” as part of a morale booster, and it had been a big hit with staff and patients. Adhering to that concept, the distributor provided several different custom-designed bowties to be sold to doctors to raise money for the foundation. Both patterns have repeatedly sold out. Amy Kovach, owner of the company, says, “The combination of a fun, unique product and custom print made this promotion a smashing success.”

Source: American Solution for Business


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Terry Ramsay is associate editor of PPB.

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