Now Trending: Promotional Apparel Styles to Watch in 2022
Trends come and go, with some standing the test of time, some falling from the public eye only to return later (think the ’90s styles currently enjoying a comeback), and others dying as quickly as they came to be. As we prepare for 2022, there are a few apparel trends worth noting.
From COVID-related comfort styles to retail- and runway-inspired gear, influence on trends comes from every direction. In 2022, not only does the current economic climate play a role, but so does the explosion of personalization. Even in the branded apparel market, retail marks can be seen everywhere. “Retail plays a huge role in [apparel trends],” said Andy Weitz, director of business development for Colortone, Hallandale Beach, Florida.
Other major movements to pay attention to include the climate conversation. “With the climate crisis in front view of the world, we anticipate an increase in eco-friendly apparel, as well as sustainable manufacturing processes,” noted Julie Martinez, digital merchandising manager for FPS Apparel, Chester, New York.
In both the retail and wholesale worlds, sustainability is experiencing a major push, and companies on the apparel decorating equipment side are also getting involved. From Nov. 2-5, Kornit Digital held its Fashion Week in Los Angeles, where a major emphasis was placed on sustainability from both a designer and manufacturer standpoint.
“It’s about inclusion and diversity,” said Kornit CEO Ronen Samuel in a statement. “We’re all about changing the textile industry, making it sustainable.”
In addition to eco-friendly themes, the company highlighted diversity, showcasing styles with a variety of models of different ages and body types.
Also at the forefront of apparel trends are the decorating technologies themselves, with digital leading the charge. Weitz noted that direct-to-garment (DTG) is doing particularly well and will continue to do so going into the new year. Sublimation also remains popular for apparel styles, as well as promotional products.
That’s not to say traditional methods won’t continue to stay steady. “Certain decorating trends like embroidery, dip dyeing, and screen printing can be seen on the retail side and easily translated to promotional apparel as well,” Martinez said.
Color will experience a shift in 2022, as the neutral trends of the early 2000s make a reappearance. “We anticipate an increase in neutral colors and early 2000s influence as Gen Z comes to the forefront of fashion influence,” Martinez said.
Once again, customization will play a role here. “We expect custom apparel requests to increase as each brand works to stand out among competitors with buzzworthy promotional products,” she added
This trend was evident throughout Kornit Fashion Week, with a lot of pastels and neutral colors making their way into the runway shows. Also of note throughout the show were the floral and natural prints, as well as flowy styles, marrying the concept of comfort with unique prints.
Still, we should see some pops of color as people explore personal style. “People seem to want something more original and handmade,” Weitz observed. “Basic colors are too basic these days.”
And with people slowly making their way out of their homes and back into social situations, the need to pay attention to apparel trends has never been greater.
“As brands increasingly gear their merchandise toward relevancy, we see more customers looking for popular styles that people can wear outside of events,” said Martinez. “It’s important to be aware about what is trending and how a brand can use that style to stay current.”
For those still not sure what specific styles, colors and overall trends to watch, check out the following style highlights for a few ideas.
Hoodies and Sweatshirts
While most of us have a healthy distaste for the pandemic and all the havoc it’s wreaked on our lives, there are a couple good things that came from it. For example, with the large percentage of the workforce moving to a work-from-home or even hybrid work model, comfort styles experienced a huge uptick. Now, nearly a year and half after everyone was sent home, hoodies and sweatshirts in particular are still hanging in the limelight.
“Comfort is still top priority post-COVID,” said Martinez. “The shift from office to work-from-home drove a significant increase in loungewear and sweatshirts demand on the retail side, as well as the manufacturing side.”
On the flip side, polos are anticipated to be a hot trend in 2022. The return of some to the office, or at least a hybrid environment, has some impact on this style, but sports like golf also play a role. “Golf has been a major influence with this style,” noted Martinez. “We expect growth here, as well as company uniforms.”
Jerseys and Sports Apparel
Speaking of sports, Martinez said that FPS Apparel expects to see increased demand for items like jerseys. This again has a lot to do with many sports returning to regular seasons and live events. “With the return of sports, we are seeing an increase for this style, both sport-related and streetwear-inspired,” Martinez said.
“Tie-dye has been super hot the past 12 months, and it seems to be gaining strength,” said Weitz. This particular trend has experienced major influence from the retail side. “Tie-dye is everywhere you go these days,” he added.
The great part about tie-dye is it can be applied to almost any apparel style: the classic T-shirt, hats and, of course, the red-hot hoodie. “Hoodies are trending big and will get bigger in 2022,” Weitz said. But don’t forget to also think outside the box and target those customers looking for something unique. For example, offer tie-dye pants, crop-tops, pajamas and accessories like masks.
If you’re going to talk accessories, the pandemic once again is at the forefront of the conversation. While items like masks and gaiters have seen dips and rises as COVID numbers fluctuate, they are expected to once again be a main item for 2022. But before you get too caught up in that, don’t forget there are other hot-ticket items out there.
Martinez lists scrunchies and other low-cost, frequently worn branded items. But what will set these items apart going into 2022 is the emphasis on personalization and decorating methods that lend themselves to it.
“We anticipate an increase in screen printing as the need for fast, budget-friendly decorations continue,” she said. “We also anticipate an increase in sublimation for fully custom looks.”