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Layer Up: What’s Happening in Fleece and Outerwear

Experts from Lane Seven Apparel, Citadel Brands, and Hanes give us the inside scoop on trends, untapped markets, and decoration considerations

Industry suppliers give us the inside scoop on what’s happening in the fleece and outerwear category, including how retail trends impact the wholesale world, decoration considerations, and untapped markets, plus the most popular styles and colors to come for the season.

LANE SEVEN APPAREL / ALEXIS SHUBIN, MARKETING DIRECTOR

Q: How do retail trends impact the wholesale world, and how has that played out for fleece and outerwear?

A: Social media has completely shifted the way trends take off. We now co-exist in this super-connected, super happening-right-now digital world where we have access to everything and everyone.

With retail leaning into “fast fashion” these days in order to meet the demands of the younger consumers who are adapting real-time trends into their wardrobes, it’s become the Wild West of trend forecasting. In order for wholesale apparel companies to keep up, they literally have to “meet the moment.”

That is informing fleece and outerwear trends nearly as they happen. For instance, a street-style shot pops up on IG of Justin and Hailey Bieber out in oversized hoodies and sweats strolling in LA, and boom, a trend is born.

Q: What styles and cuts are popular in the fleece and outerwear category right now?

A: We are really loving the preppy/collegiate themes that have taken hold of the streetwear market; it’s such an accessible trend, easily achieved by plugging colors like sport green, navy, and chestnut in classic crewnecks and hoodies into your lineup.

We are also still big on streetwear this season, but elevated streetwear, so fleece styles in muted (think Yeezy) colors that are oversized and feature super discrete yet luxe details.

Q: As we look ahead to fall and winter, what color stories will be trending in this segment?

A: NEUTRALS. Muddy, muted neutrals have become a fashion story on their own with deep taupes, burnt caramels, and makeup foundation tones — blues, greens, and sand.

CITADEL BRANDS / GREG BROWN, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER

Q:  What untapped markets can fleece and outerwear garments appeal to?

A: Honestly, the last two years have created a casual wear phenomenon in almost every market. Corporate casual has gone from the placket/woven shirt market to everyday fleece and outerwear being accepted in most workplaces.

Q: What styles and cuts are popular in the fleece and outerwear category right now?

A: Basics still run very strong for the most part, especially the resurgence of the crew neck segment. Color has been a driving force in keeping the basics business vibrant. The ladies’ market continues to grow with crop styling in hoods and crews. Fleece joggers and fleece shorts are expanding outside of the basic colors and in some cases bringing back the “sweatsuit” term of years ago with a more fashionable appeal.

Q: As we look ahead to fall and winter, what color stories will trend in this segment?

A: Earth tone, dusty pastels, and fashion basics continue to grow in popularity. With schools and offices being back open to the “new look,” colors are actively being asked for to generate excitement about being seen again.

HANESBRANDS / MICHAEL JOHNSON, DIRECTOR OF MARKETING

Q: What do apparel decorators need to consider when working with fleece and outerwear?

A: With outerwear, it’s crucial you research whether the fabrication aligns with your decoration technique. Not all poly outerwear can handle high heat applications. For decorators working with fleece and outerwear, the process begins well before you start to embellish with sourcing responsibly-made apparel. Your customers trust you and look to you to provide apparel that checks every box: quality, comfortable, and responsibly made.

Q: What styles and cuts are popular in the fleece and outerwear category right now?

A: Overall, consumers are still looking for looser fitting styles, especially when it comes to outerwear. Versatility is key, and looser fits allow for easy layering. Gender-neutral sizing continues to be popular, especially with outerwear.

While we all know it’s hard to beat the comfort of a classic hoodie, the fleece crew is in the spotlight as a more refined alternative. As we head back to the office firmly committed to comfortable workwear, the versatile fleece crew can be easily layered and dressed up or down.

Layering doesn’t get any easier than a packable anorak — great for events and corporate apparel, and new full-zip versions make the anorak work for more programs.

Q: As we look ahead to fall and winter, what color stories will trend in this segment?

A: Look for soft pastels, creamy whites, and jewel tones. Vintage color palettes are hot, such as earthy reds and greens, as well as mustards. Or get the vintage look in any color with innovative garment-dye washes creating the vintage charm.

For more on fleece and outerwear for 2022, check out Everyone’s Favorite Fleece in the August issue of GRAPHICS PRO.

Allee Bruce

Alexandria Bruce

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