Joel Chadwick, managing director at Chadwick Textiles, discusses the rise of technical fabrics and the increasing demand for more functional products at all budgetary levels
What are the key sportswear trends in team and sportswear at the moment?
The continuing decline of more traditional budget tracksuits/pants, hoodies and tees, especially in team and trainingwear. They are being replaced with more technical, fitted garments that utilise functional synthetic fabrics, with classic examples being mid-layer 1/4 zip tops replacing cotton-mix hoodies, and power stretch leggings (female) and ‘skinny’ training pants (male) replacing basic woven track pants.
Additionally, teamwear is now increasingly being worn for everyday situations.
Which fabrics do you expect to increase in popularity over the next 12-24 months?
There is a current trend for synthetic, cross dyed fabrics offering a melange colour effect in polyester with Spandex, especially in the fitness market. Lightweight shell fabrics, 2 and 2.5 layer for waterproof jackets and pullover tops, fit in with the current ‘layering’ philosophy.
Traditionally the concept of heavyweight fabrics was a perception of quality, especially in outerwear, but with advances in fabric and yarn technology, lightweight fabric combinations such as laminates or brushed loop backs knits for next-to-the-skin garments are far more comfortable and equally as durable.
Sublimated team kit fabrics also continue to replace more basic cut-and-sew garments as they offer endless opportunities to create bespoke garments.
What are the key colour trends in sportswear?
Primary colours are still king, however the advent of garment sublimation in the last 10 years, opens up all manner of possibilities for teams and sportspeople to express themselves individually.
As well as our teamwear garment range, Chadwick Textiles is a leading supplier of polyester knit fabric to garment sublimators and we’ve seen a surge in the range of sports using sublimated kit instead of traditional styles.
How do you think the team and sportswear market will develop over the next few years?
Whilst change is relatively slow by comparison to retail at the grassroots level, it’s still changing at a faster pace than ever before, especially in the educational sector – schools, universities and colleges – as the pressure to take part, compete and outwardly promote the establishment by looking like a team is ever more important.
However, the quality level for a lot of the so called ‘budget’ sportswear and teamwear products still remains mediocre at best and hasn’t changed much in the last 10 to 20 years. It’s still very price driven and extremely competitive, especially if the end user is public funded, but there is a growing demand for better and more functional product at all levels.
What are the most popular types of decoration for sports and teamwear?
Sublimation printing aside, the application of club badges, player names, numbers and sponsors can impact positively on a garment that started out very plain. It can even make a cheaper garment look premium, although if the garment is unfit for purpose it will ultimately be found out.
Reflective printing, reflective tapes and waterproof zips are still increasingly being used on running and cycling products. The use of multiple fabric panelling is now commonplace to add texture and contrast to garments as well as offering more mobility or protection in key areas.
Hi-build/3-D rubberised prints are a move on from more basic transfers but can be harder to apply without the correct quality or knowledge, particularly when applied to hi-stretch fabrics.
What’s the best decoration you’ve seen on sportswear?
It was for a Formula One team motorsport jacket where cost wasn’t an issue. It included all the sponsor, team and driver names in print and embroidery. The embellishment cost was £50 alone.
How can Images readers sell more Chadwick Textiles garments?
We continually see customers convert teams, clubs and schools from famous brands to Chadwick products on the basis they are equivalent quality, lower in price and available from stock. Having confidence in your supplier is key, and confidence in the product itself is vital. Sportswear has to be functional, reliable, and to look good too. We use strong designs combined with sound garment construction and fit, along with a fabric fit for purpose, to ensure we create great products. We also offer style continuity year on year across our range, which enables sports retailers and resellers the opportunity to react quickly when new opportunities arise.