Live from the PPAI Expo: 8 Apparel Trends and Stories
We've tackled one day of the PPAI Expo here in Vegas, where we showcased some new products and also listed some of our favorite booths, products and trends from around the floor.
A lot of our coverage has to do with evolving trends and new products, and there's no better example of consistent change than apparel. Each year, suppliers and decorators hang their newest styles to demonstrate the latest fits and silhouettes, materials, decoration techniques and more.
Read on as we discuss some of the most interesting apparel trends we saw on the show floor, including new technology that will excite direct-to-garment printers, the growing trend of custom apparel and more.
1. Sustainability Still Making a Splash
Sustainability continues to be part of the print and promo conversation. With eco-friendly products now non-negotiable, they’re going from “trending” to being a standard with suppliers.
Showcasing various sustainable outerwear options, STORMTECH’s Pure Earth collection features garments made with BCI cotton and recycled polyester. One of the highlights from the collection includes the Scirocco Lightweight Shell. Both the shell and lining of the waterproof jacket are made from 100% recycled polyester.
2. Hanesbrands' PrintNow T-shirt Technology
Hanes debuted a new T-shirt that comes pre-treated, so apparel decorators can do direct-to-garment printing right away, rather than having to worry about treatment and curing.
"The direct-to-garment market is continuing to grow," says Hanes product manager Marcus Davis. "We know that part of the industry is really big and growing. But there's one part of the print process that could be a little bit cumbersome, and that's the pre-treatment."
The new T-shirt is a 4.5 oz. Shirt with pre-treatment already applied, and comes in multiple colors.
"It's going to be game-changing for a lot of people that are thinking about getting into the direct-to-garment printing business, because they can then rethink the equipment they have to buy. They can eliminate the need to buy the pre-treat application or additional equipment to cure it. People that are already doing it today know that that's going to save time and money. With this T-shirt, you can literally take it out of the case, put it right on the machine and go. It's going to be revolutionary."
Davis said Hanes is aiming for a mid-February release.
3. Earth Tones and Muted Colors
While classic color palettes still hold strong in the apparel space, earth tones, pastels and muted shades are everywhere. This accompanied by more distressed, pigment- and garment-dyed frabic, offers that lived-in T-shirt look and feel.
J. America’s new premium fleece crewneck, featuring 80/20 ring-spun cotton/polyester fleece fabric, nails the earth tones on the head with colors like military green and charcoal heather.
Adding to the color story on the floor is Adams Headwear’s pigment-dyed, distressed caps. Each hat is designed with quality in mind, featuring leather straps and brass hardware.
4. Embossed Apparel
Embossing is a popular decoration technique for items like bags, but it's not seen as often on apparel. Most apparel decorators and distributors might think their options are limited to dye or embroidery.
There are multiple apparel companies on the PPAI show floor with embossed apparel, which adds a literal dimension to a logo placement.
5. USA-Made Garments
After a tough few years of distributors struggling with supply chain issues and finding vendors with inventory, USA-made apparel looks more and more appealing.
With operations based out of Southern California, Bayside Apparel tackles apparel manufacturing from “dirt to shirt,” says Jeremy Morillo, sales manager of strategic accounts. The U.S.-grown cotton and in-house knitting, dying, cutting and sewing allow Bayside to oversee quality, ensure sustainability, and offer private-label custom services.
6. Hexa Custom's One-Of-A-Kind Designs
Hexa Custom is a relatively new outerwear brand out of Colorado. Their whole identity is centered around customization. Customers can use their online platform to literally design their jacket to fit a brand image and end-user preferences.
"What makes our product really cool is that everything is customized into panels," Kathleen Baker, creative director and product designer for Hexa Custom, says. "You have the body, the side, the shoulder, the hood, the sleeves, and we have 24 colors you can apply across all of it. ... It really allows people to bring their brand to life by choosing their brand colors and then applying them across the panels. From there, they can add features such as a chest pocket, a hood or a removable hood, and really tailor it to exactly what they want and really the price they want."
Hexa has a variety of products, from hooded jackets, stylish cropped puffers, vests and more.
7. Mixing Tech and Textiles
Remember when QR codes tried to succeed in 2014-2015? We all thought they were a thing of the past, and then COVID-19 happened, and suddenly we saw a resurgence with various use cases from digital menus to contactless signups for businesses.
As we walk the aisles of PPAI, it’s clear the QR craze is here to stay. Many apparel suppliers are turning to this simple-yet-effective tool so distributors and consumers can quickly get information about a T-shirt they’re selling or wearing.
Taking it to the next level, Threadfast has its new NFC (near-field communication) enabled tee taking the spotlight. You can just tap the NFC chip near your smartphone, open the notification that pops up, and it directs you to its programmed URL. The demo on display features a 100% cotton tee with a Barbie graphic printed on it. The small NFC chip on the sleeve directs to the Barbie movie trailer. Why does this matter for promo distributors? The chip can endlessly link to any marketing or promo materials a business desires.
8. Workwear Influence
Brands like Carhartt and other workwear brands have infiltrated fashion. Apparel items like outerwear, shirts and bags that look like they can stand up to a hard day of work, even if they're just used for a night out, are going to stay popular.
We'll have even more coverage from this year's PPAI Expo as the week goes on, so check back with Promo Marketing every day!