Catch Up With 2024's Apparel Trends
New detailing, fabrics, and unique styles highlight this year's offerings.
AS ANY GOOD SCREEN printer knows, a T-shirt is not just a T-shirt anymore. The same goes for other apparel options designed for screen printing and other decorating processes. So are traditional T-shirts, fleecewear and bottoms still traditional? Yes and no, say industry suppliers. Today’s styles reflect the basic construction of the garments your customers have come to know and love, but with interesting fabric constructions, colors, fits, and fashion details.
One of the biggest trends in 2024 will be the continued importance of sustainability in basic garment fabrication. While eco-friendly T-shirts are nothing new to the market, more and more manufacturers are answering the call to make apparel that is earth-friendly.
“We’ve had a push on sustainability from nearly every vendor we carry,” says Andi Goeing, product manager, S & S Activewear. “Even some companies who have never had an option of sustainable items before are adding it to their product mix. Before, it was always Alternative and Gildan that were big sustainable brands, but now we’re seeing new shirts from adidas and Bella + Canvas to name a few. Bella’s 3001 Eco is its Ecomax T-shirt that is made from recycled polyester so that’s one example of a big T-shirt brand getting into this space.”
Also, Comfort Wash by Hanes is coming out with a botanical-dyed T-shirt, which is a new dyeing technique using natural products, Goeing adds. These colors are made from dyes that are derived from fruits, flowers, and leaves. So the dyeing process also is becoming more chemical free and is better for the environment, she adds.
And when it comes to sustainability, the customer does care. “Companies in the wholesaler arena didn’t use to place as much importance on eco-friendly apparel,” says Rodger Blanton, brand specialist, Next Level Apparel. “People at every level do now. The consumer is more conscious and aware and this is particularly evident in the small artisan shops that sell so much apparel online.”
For the promotional market, it depends on the region, says Alyssa Inkrott, national account executive – promotional markets, Bella + Canvas. The West and East coasts are very interested in buying sustainable apparel to offer their clients, but this isn’t the case in the Midwest, she says.
And people are no longer buying because of price, according to Milissa Gibson, sales director, Lane Seven Apparel. “Traditionally, decorators and similarly consumers were concerned that buying sustainable meant having to pay a lot more for apparel,” she says. “But Lane Seven and other manufacturers have changed their pricing structure to make it more affordable to do something good for the planet and still have a very cool T-shirt.”Advertisement
Retail-inspired clothing continues to be on the rise, as consumers are willing to pay higher prices for basic items that mimic what they find online and at upscale boutique and department stores. “Gen Z-ers have purchasing power,” says Inkrott. “They are ordering upscale basics for corporate apparel that’s not just for after work anymore. They are demanding trendy options that can transition from day to night in more fashion-forward styles.”
“Online buying feels more authentic to younger tastes,” adds Gibson. “With the COVID pivot to working from home, young consumers are taking a nod from social media outlets like TikTok and it is completely transforming the fashion industry. This buyer transition is seeing the basic blanks market shifting at a faster pace to keep up with upscale demand.”
Blanton agrees, noting that what used to be a lag at the wholesale level in buying retail-inspired apparel for decorators is quickly becoming a shortening gap from what consumers buy at retail and what they are buying from their local decorators. This youthful arena is spanning all age groups now and is coming from big cities, kiosks, pop-up shops and online outlets, he says. He adds that youthful graphic design is helping push brands toward these trendy looks. “Artisan work and locally made goods are booming.”
“Buys may not be as big as they used to be, but the profits are the same because this apparel does cost a bit more — but nothing like it used to,” says Gibson. “Commodity brands are somewhat falling by the wayside and fashion, quality brands rule.”
“The first question to ask your customers is what their favorite shirt is,” says Blanton. “There’s less price resistance and very few people still want the absolute cheapest shirt. They want quality.” And that’s true with the influence of durable and quality fast fashion as people are getting out of the low-quality mindset, adds Gibson.
Athleisure continues to be huge and isn’t going away anytime soon. So manufacturers are expanding on that trend. “Brands like adidas are answering the call to the wholesale market by introducing basic leggings that are retail, athleisure garments much like expensive brands such as Athleta and lululemon,” says Goeing. “And sweatshirts are becoming more retail inspired as well, with fashion detailings that are coming straight from retail stores. Quarter zips will be huge this year.”
nkrott says that the athletic influence is changing garment construction to boxy, open-end shirts developed for different reasons for different regions and their particular climates.Blanton notes that, when it comes to sweatshirts, younger women want an oversized, 90’s vibe to match with leggings. And Gibson says there are dramatic shifts in buying patterns happening. “Zip hoodies are all but done and there’s an influx of crews and quarter zips pacing heavier. Also, look for tri-blends and CVCs to come back into the basic T-shirt arena.”
Athleisure styles are becoming available from nearly every manufacturer. One example is from Holloway, which has introduced an athleisure line called the Ventura Collection, according to Goeing. “The Eco Revive Ventura pieces are very buttery soft,” she says. “The texture feels very much like the inside of a sweatshirt. We’ve just never really had anything that high end. So that’s a really big thing for 2024 — getting more pieces that mimic athleisure and retail because what we have had in the past was not comparable.”
IS BIGGER BETTER?
“Oversized is a big trend this year,” says Goeing. “People are used to only being able to buy a normal-fit sweatshirt and buy up a couple of sizes to get that oversized look. But today, more brands are making their garments intentionally oversized. For example, Bella + Canvas just came out with a cropped sweatshirt that’s oversized and it’s an awesome piece.”
“Also, we’re seeing that a ton of heavyweights, so heavyweight sweatshirts and T shirts have made a major comeback” she adds. “It’s not just for skaters and surfers anymore.
Everybody wants that heavier weight T-shirt and sweatshirt. Independent Trading for instance has the Independent 3000, which is a heavyweight crewneck that comes in all the neutral colors.”
Speaking of colors for 2024, in addition to neutrals a lot of bright hues like neon are coming back into vogue. “American Apparel, Comfort Wash by Hanes and Comfort Colors are showing like a ton of neon colors this year,” says Goeing. “Also there’s still the pastels continuing to be big but the major color is these neutrals like the slate blue, sandstone, and bone being projected to be really big going into the New Year.”
Finally, look for 90’s and early 2000’s nostalgia to create a greater sales impact thanks to social media influencers and podcasters, notes Goeing. “That means lots of baby rib and baby tees,” she says. “For instance, we’re looking to major purchases of the Bella + Canvas 1010 baby tee, the 1501 long-sleeve tee, and the 1201, which is a raglan baby T-shirt that are a nod to what was popular back then. As wholesalers, we have a real focus on premium brands. So decorators are no longer just giving customers a cheap T-shirt but are being thoughtful about what kind of swag customers can offer their clients and in particular their employees and for promotional giveaways.”
“Influencers all want merch with their taglines on the apparel,” she adds. “It seems like everyone has a podcast now, so it went from a space that wasn’t so saturated to now everyone wanting merch to go along with their podcasts, Instagram posts, TikTok videos, and reality shows. They’re getting apparel with their tag lines and they are becoming huge sellers. So merch isn’t just for bands anymore. It’s celebrities. It’s reality stars. It’s podcast stars. People listen to a ton of podcasts and the hosts’ stuff sells out immediately. It’s crazy how many consumers want merch with their favorite reality shows or preferred podcast messages on it.”Advertisement
Let’s Talk About It
Creating a More Diverse and Inclusive Screen Printing Industry
LET’S TALK About It: Part 3 discusses how four screen printers have employed people with disabilities, why you should consider doing the same, the resources that are available, and more. Watch the live webinar, held August 16, moderated by Adrienne Palmer, editor-in-chief, Screen Printing magazine, with panelists Ali Banholzer, Amber Massey, Ryan Moor, and Jed Seifert. The multi-part series is hosted exclusively by ROQ.US and U.N.I.T.E Together. Let’s Talk About It: Part 1 focused on Black, female screen printers and can be watched here; Part 2 focused on the LGBTQ+ community and can be watched here.
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