April 7, 2022
We’re living in a new era of fashion. Gone are the days of sensible rules and structure. The lines have been blurred, leaving consumers to sometimes grapple with what’s hot and what’s not.
Traditional style has been heavily impacted by a multitude of mind-boggling circumstances, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as bipolar weather that continues to affect each season, leaving us barely able to discern one from the other. As 2022 progresses, these forces of nature are continuously working their way into today’s market with interesting results, including fresh, accommodating styles and popular looks that have carried over from 2021.
From roomier fits and work-from-home attire to the perfect layered ensemble, here’s an inside scoop on what to expect in this year’s fashion game.
Fitted vs. Loose-Fitting
The battle of fitted vs. loose-fitting garments has famously been fought over the years, with the pendulum swinging back and forth to each side repeatedly. In the present landscape, it seems that looser fits currently are prevailing.
“Oversized [apparel] is gaining in popularity,” says Kelly Sutton, senior marketing manager for HanesBrands Printwear. “Some women will just go up a size and others will buy unisex, with both options creating the intended look. I think it’s great to have options.”
As options abound, baggier garments have essentially become a key part of street fashion. According to Eric Simsolo, Next Level Apparel’s vice president of strategic business development, looser styles usually are paired with fitted bottoms to accentuate the bagginess of a T-shirt.
“A loose-fit garment also offers inclusivity; it caters to a larger demographic,” he says.
Fitted styles aren’t to be forgotten, however. The success of “shapewear” has allowed the fitted trend to remain in the fight. “It works great in an active environment if the fabric stretches with the wearer,” Simsolo says.
Alexis Shubin, marketing director, Lane Seven Apparel, roots for both. “It’s not about fitted vs. loose; it’s more about fitted and loose and how you interpret it,” she says. “You’ve got girls like Billie Eilish who [wear] oversized Gucci [from] top to bottom, and then you have Hailey Beiber rocking her oversized Drew hoodie with a super-cute pair of bike shorts. Or dare we even talk about the wild success of Kim Kardashian’s Skims? They both totally work, together and separate — just know how to rock it.”
Athleisure may take on a new moniker this year: “workleisure” — a name that appears to be synonymous with the work-from-home generation.
“It’s our new business casual,” Simsolo says. “We continue to see matching sets and layering and color contrasting. This will never get old when it comes to athleisure, whether it’s crop over a sports bra or shorts and skirts over leggings. Lastly, the use of sustainable materials allows for affordability. These pieces are good for printers and performance.”
The casual workforce not only gravitates towards athleisure for remote work but favors this trend for long days back in the office. “Whether working from home or physically in the office, the hoodie has been anointed as a go-to silhouette,” Sutton says.
Fashion-forward hues and natural earth tones will accentuate the color palette of various brands and their collections.
“I think we will see a lot of mixing athleisure with more ‘traditional’ everyday pieces, so think sports bras as tops, the perfect layering piece under blazers; joggers that are stretchy and stylish with stepped-up design details; and there will be the continuing allure of the matching sweat suit, but in fresh, mood-elevating hues like greens and pinks.”
A common thread for this year’s trends, layering offers the most flexibility for men and women. The concept of dressing seasonally has been thrown out the window, meaning layering possesses infinite possibilities.
“Layered looks will feature soft, draping fabrics that let [wearers] easily layer without bulk,” Sutton says. “Gone are the days of the summer wardrobe and the winter wardrobe, as so much of what we wear is considered ‘three-season’ apparel. We want styles that are versatile. We know versatile means apparel we can wear from the gym to [getting] drinks or from work to dinner, but it also means apparel we can wear for most of the year as we navigate dips in the weather and indoor/outdoor temperature swings.”
Layering clothing also can be creative and fun, telling a story through the colors and arrangement of the layers within the ensemble.
“An evolution of what we see in the post work-from-home era could be an emphasis on remerchandising of items already in people closets,” Simsolo says. “Crop or cutout
hoodies can sit atop long sleeves and thermals. A long-line tee can be worn beneath a sweater and oversized zip. Items can be matched in a minimal-tonal colorway or focused neutrals with one ‘pop-color’ piece.”
Fleece still reigns supreme for outerwear. Forever a classic, it has received a sustainable makeover, keeping “the king” fresh and eco-friendly.
“Fleece is as timeless as ever and, now, with an eco-conscious spin,” Sutton says. “Our Eco-
Cozy fleece is a great example of how style and sustainability come together, with 23% recycled polyester and fun, new silhouettes like the Eco-Cozy fleece mock-neck quarter-zip. Each silhouette is both practical and stylish, with the crew, hoodies and quarter-zip providing a classic fit with an easy dropped shoulder for added comfort.”
A dominating force across all demographics, fleece will remain a staple and continue to evolve, whether it’s oversized; cropped; donning voluminous sleeves; or environmentally focused.
“Keep an eye on outdoor brands like Patagonia, who set the bar for eco-minded apparel and will continue to level up in innovating not only the way we think about what our garments are made of, but what we demand as consumers,” Shubin says.
The votes are in, and it has been determined that comfort and style are both a necessity for consumers in this category. Companies will continue making leggings, joggers, shorts, etc., a mainstream apparel component that’s functional for everyday use.
“People are done with lay-around loungewear in favor of more statement-making looks without sacrificing comfort,” Shubin says “So, while sweat pants, joggers and fleece shorts are going to stay put in 2022, they will be elevated with pops of pastels, luxe details like metal-tipped drawcords and more fashionable fits.”
Sutton elaborates that leggings are a staple for women and provide an excellent foundation for layering any outfit. For men, the company has predicted the ribbed-leg jogger will make a comeback after taking a backseat to cuffed legs in recent years.
“In our industry, these items have historically been for team dealers and activewear,” Simsolo says. “It will be interesting to see how manufacturers, printers and promo groups merchandise them with new ways to decorate and print for the large customer base.”
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