Catherine Bagley, head of design at Fruit of the Loom, talks to Images about the latest imprintable sweatshirt trends
What are the key style trends in sweatshirts at the moment?
Sweats are now a key item in the casualwear market, out-performing knitwear, and we are seeing some distinct trends emerging depending on the audience in question. The mainstream market is leaning towards a slimmer silhouette, but not one that we would class as a ‘proper’ slim fit yet! However, it’s the opposite for younger buyers, who at the moment are embracing the 90s’ trend for oversized fit. It’s a trend that’s easy to achieve by buying a larger size in a range such as the Classic Sweat from Fruit of the Loom.
And the key colour trends?
White is very big at the moment. It’s a trend that’s been around for a few years among designers of everything from fashion and trainers to cars, and it’s not going away any time soon. Also cool and calm colours are really popular at the moment, and the next shades to watch out for are mid-tones of khaki and olive, which are starting to come through.
What are the current favourite fabrics for sweatshirts?
French terry (unbrushed fleece) has seen a very big resurgence both in imprint and retail. It’s been around since the 1980s, but both manufacturers and consumers have fallen in love with it all over again. It’s heavier than most T-shirt fabrics but lighter than most traditional sweats, making it super versatile. It’s incredibly comfortable to wear and, with a natural stretch, it can be worn in numerous situations – from a yoga class to the morning commute. Fruit of the Loom’s Lightweight Sweat range offers a summer weight sweat that’s also perfect for layering in the winter over a shirt, polo or T-shirt, or under a heavier jacket.
How much influence does the retail market have on sweatshirts designed for garment decoration?
Retail definitely has an influence on the imprint market; the trends have always filtered down, but now they filter down and are reflected in imprint a lot quicker. Unlike the days when only fashion buyers got to see next year’s trends on a private runway show, these days social media, the internet, fashion bloggers, celebrity culture and fast fashion brands mean people get to see what’s up-and-coming much more quickly. Manufacturers have had to adapt and become agile to this. Customers want the same styling and fit from a promotional or corporate garment that they would get in retail.
Are there any potential issues with sweatshirts that decorators need to be aware of before decorating them?
The best advice is to choose a good quality sweat for a good quality print. Smoothness of surface is everything!
To which markets and end user applications are sweatshirts best suited?
Sweats are truly a universal piece of clothing worn by the young and young at heart, from winter to summer, at work or play. Fruit of the Loom has three distinct collections – Lightweight, Premium and Classic – which provide customers with a sweat for every occasion. All are designed for decoration and easy care. It’s no wonder that consumers all over Europe have some kind of sweat in their wardrobe.
Will Fruit of the Loom be expanding its sweatshirt range in 2017? If so, could you give us any hints about what to expect?
I can’t give you any hints, but I can say make sure you read Images in January 2017!
What’s the best piece of marketing and sales advice you can give to Images readers to help them sell more Fruit of the Loom sweatshirts?
We have a fantastic resource called The Fruit Club, which is free to join and gives distributors and their customers an array of marketing support material, from POS to advert templates. This tool provides the ability to custom advertise and minimise their internal cost.