Kustom Kit‘s product manager discusses the shift in attitude towards corporatewear, discerning buyers and the increased focus on sustainability

Clare Dwyer

The contemporary Draped Vest from Clayton & Ford at Kustom Kit

What are the key design trends in corporatewear?

There has been a shift in attitude towards corporatewear over the last few years as an increasing number of companies relax their enforcement of formal dress in the workplace.

As industry continues to adopt a more laid-back approach to uniform, more companies are opting for smart-casual over traditional office attire. Observing this surge in business-casual dress, Kustom Kit launched Clayton & Ford. This curated collection of contemporary shirting and reimagined womenswear caters perfectly to this market trend.

What about colour and fabric trends?

Buyers are ever more discerning and have come to expect more from fabrics. As a result, high performance garments with easy-care properties have become increasingly sought after. Fabrics woven with Lycra have been a great introduction to the industry as they allow for a sleek fit without restricting movement.

Polycotton blends also remain popular as they combine comfort and durability with easy care, which is a big plus for people who don’t want to waste their days ironing! In shirting, patterns are trending, with gingham proving ever popular. Bengal stripe polyester has also begun to find its way into corporatewear.

Which fabrics do you expect to increase in popularity?

We expect to see increased demand for functional fabrics, such as our Cooltex Plus range. These garments feature added extras such as inherent moisture- wicking capability, an easy-care finish and added stretch properties for comfort and practicality. Due to increased societal awareness, there is likely to be a movement towards sustainability.

A growing number of businesses insist on using Oeko-Tex certified fabrics, and expectations for ethical manufacturing that is kind to both skin and environment will only continue to rise.

What have been the most significant recent advances in corporatewear and where is there scope for further development?

The industry has woken up to the fact that individuals don’t want to lose their personality when they dress for the office, which has resulted in more fashion-led, retail-inspired uniforms. In response to this, we now offer our best-selling shirts in classic, tailored and slim fits to provide uniformity whilst catering for the individual. Opportunities in ladieswear are also set to increase as this sector transitions away from traditional shirts toward easy-care, easy-wear styles. Clayton & Ford’s range of soft shirting is designed to flatter the wearer and was born out of the growing demand for chic feminine workwear.

How do you think the corporatewear market will develop over the next few years?

We will continue to see a rise in the popularity of smart-casual styling. Buttoned-up polo shirts and T-shirts worn under Oxford shirts are already commonplace in offices and as a result, we are likely to see a movement towards quality basics that mirrors trends in retail. The ‘buy less, buy better’ mantra of choosing quality and longevity is also gaining momentum due to increased social awareness of the detrimental impacts of fast fashion.

What are the main types of decorations currently seen on corporatewear?

Embroidery continues to lead the way when it comes to embellishment, but we’ve observed an increase in decoration by vinyl printing, especially for logos that are less text-orientated, and sublimation printing is also on the up due to the influx of polyester garments within the corporate sector.

What‘s the best/most unusual decoration you‘ve seen on corporatewear?

We’ve started seeing some interesting embroidery placements on shirting. Certain creative decorators are pushing the boundaries to embroider back collars, cuffs and collar points. We’ve even seen vertically-positioned vinyl prints that are so large they practically bleed othe garment. Decoration using mixed media adds an extra dimension to corporatewear and is reminiscent of styles seen in retail.

What‘s the single best piece of marketing and/or sales advice you can give to Images readers to help them sell more corporatewear?

To stand out in a competitive industry, it’s vital to understand your customers. Be aware of market trends, ask difficult questions and listen carefully in order to clearly identify consumer needs – then set about bringing in the styles that will truly meet their requirements.