Julie Dowman, head of design at Dimensions, explains how concerns about sustainability are influencing colour and fabric trends in corporatewear

Julie Dowman

What are the key design trends in corporatewear?
Sustainability is a huge factor that is coming into play, both here at Dimensions and industry-wide. It’s more than a trend, and a direction we should all be aiming for, wherever we can. As retail and financial markets are rapidly changing, it’s now more important than ever for customers to ensure their wardrobes are focused and relevant. 
What about current colour trends?
Colours within corporatewear tend to hedge towards a customer’s unique brand guidelines, and so this is where tonal versions of Pantones come into play. Often what will look good on printed material doesn’t necessarily translate to a colour that will look good against the skin. 

Our designers have to work with precision to create colour palettes that are sympathetic to trends, brands and wearability. From a trend perspective for 2021, colours are falling broadly into two categories:

Artificial – these have an unnatural intensity and are created for a digital age, where tones need to pop on screen just as much as they do in real life. An example of these would be oxy fire, pink lift and lemon sherbet.

Enhanced naturals – natural colours have a muted and nuanced quality inspired by the unpredictable look of natural pigmented dyes. As sustainability becomes a more immediate and mainstream issue, colours like these, which appear to have come straight from the source, will have stronger appeal. An example of these would be pecan, Danish brown and soap nut.

Which fabrics to you expect to increase in popularity over the next 12-24 months?

A move towards more natural or recycled man-made fibres will definitely gain momentum. No one can ignore the environmental issues we are all experiencing. Climate change and its effects are all around us on a daily basis. Customers realise this, with many letting us know of their wish to commit to using these types of fabrics in the future.

Enhanced natural colours are a key trend

Where do you think there is scope for development in corporatewear?

Everyone is looking forward to what the future might look like, and we at Dimensions look to partners who can provide advances in technology. Whether that be new fibre combinations or fabrics that can enhance a wearer’s well-being, or digital technology that can enable wearers to be more interactive with different interfaces, these are all areas where we are seeing rapid development.

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

I feel like the market will develop steadily, but it will be more important to businesses who want to really invest and care for the well-being of their employees. We are seeing some movement towards gender-neutral ranges and a bigger emphasis on individuality. The key to being ahead of the game and keeping relevant in modern day society will be to recognise the needs of not just millennials and alphas, but the population’s ageing baby boomers, who to some extent will still be present in the working field as retirement ages blur.

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

Laser cutting and embossing are both newer developments that we are seeing enter the marketplace, but embroidery and screen printing still have their unique specialisms. Digital printing has developed rapidly in recent years, offering faster turnover times, and the ability to sublimate gives designers further scope.

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

We’d really encourage offering sustainable routes, as it offers a brilliant way to reduce our carbon footprint on the planet.