From the fields to the factories, the fashion industry is evolving its practices to meet the requests of conscious end-users everywhere. While trends focused on the hottest coveted colors and patterns in the past, consumers now want to know where and how their products are made and what ideas they’re supporting by wearing them.
Sales reps must be ready for more intimate and detailed conversations with customers and hone their listening skills to meet multidimensional goals.
Here are five apparel trends that will lead you into meaningful-and profitable-conversations with new and current customers in Q4.
1. Sustainable Fashion: Sustainability is a constant topic of discussion in the apparel and fashion industry. According to Pinterest data, searches for “sustainable fashion” increased by 34% in 2018, and consumers expect suppliers to be more transparent with their sourcing, manufacturing, and inventory processes. Brands that highlight organic materials, pay fair wages to factory workers, and use upcycling programs are in the spotlight, and these points are necessary within sales discussions.
Decoration tip: Pair garments with eco-friendly decoration techniques and partner with shops that are Sustainable Green Printing-certified to ensure that the finished product is truly sustainable.
2. Neutrals: Although fast fashion has named dozens of microseasons per year, the bread-and-butter will always be the timeless basics. These are garments in neutral colors that can be layered and worn year-round. Industries adore beige, light yellow, pale pink, and other easy-on-the-eyes hues from wellness and spa to insurance and tech.
Sales tip: Neutral shades provide a blank canvas that doesn’t compete with a company’s messaging. Decorate with bold colors and geometric design for stand-out branding or use a water-based discharge technique for a simple, vintage look.
3. Flannel: History is indeed repeating itself with flannel fashion-and our grandparents (and our 1990s selves) would be mighty proud. Relevant for their layering capabilities, bold checkerboard colors and comfortable, soft fabric, flannels appeal to all age groups and are popping up in industries across the board. They’re ideal for a variety of campaigns and lend themselves well to companies wanting to infuse employee uniforms with personal style.
Decoration tip: Flannels portray a laid-back, down-to-earth vibe. Encourage customers to keep their branding to a minimum to avoid clashing with the messaging that the piece provides on its own.
4. Bold Athleisure: Joggers, yoga pants, cropped hoodies, and flat-brimmed hats represent the booming athleisure category found in mainstream fashion. As it grows, it’s getting racier and bolder, with stylish slits, mesh panels, and color-blocking features on many product options. Consumers want comfortable, and well-fitted garments that can be worn from the gym to the grocery store to the friend’s house for dinner, and athleisure checks those boxes.
Sales tip: Pitch athleisure items to companies focused on ROI, as these garments are worn more frequently than almost any other category of apparel. Costs per impression for athleisure can be as low as a few cents.
5. More Messaging: In the age of 24/7 media cycles, it seems everyone has a message to share. Industry experts predict that branded apparel will follow this trend, with messaging taking a front seat to imprints. Funny or evocative phrases are replacing images, and consumers are using smart phrases to connect with their followers and help them feel included in a particular cause or lifestyle.
Decoration tip: Because the words speak for themselves, decoration doesn’t have to be over the top. One-color, tonal printing is enough for passersby to absorb the message.
Ultimately, end-users use fashion to express themselves, whether that’s an opinion, an affiliation, or even a mood. By providing apparel solutions to customers, you’re helping them build connections, position themselves in the world, and articulate their inner life. This gift is one that customers will come back to receive time and time again.