February 21, 2019
We’re multitaskers by nature, so it shouldn’t be surprising that we demand the same quality from our clothing, too, right? Just ask Taraynn Lloyd, vice president of marketing, Edwards Garment, who says today’s consumers love that they have choices when it comes to what they can and can’t wear on any given day.
Perhaps that type of thinking explains why woven shirts and basic tees continue to gain popularity today. Selecting a woven over a basic tee depends on personal tastes, styles and environments. For example, pairing a woven shirt or favorite tee as a base layer, then adding a fleece vest, sweater or jacket as an outer layer is something all the kids are doing, so to speak.
“There are so many great garment choices and sometimes wearing one style doesn’t really define who you are,” Lloyd says. “A lot of athleisure styles are being paired together. Lifestyles are hectic, so you want garments you can wear from a yoga class to grabbing a coffee simply by adding a longer woven shirt or sweater to cover up with.”
As the athleisure segment continues to garner even more attention, the wovens category is starting to lean more toward tech performance fabric, silhouettes inspired by athleticwear and new takes on placket functionality, such as zippers vs. button-down plackets.
“The industry can explore a multitude of options in terms of design, silhouettes, fabrications, trims and more,” says Summer Scott-Samuel, merchandising manager, Gildan SRL. “Both have a demand in their own category. The need for more athleisure styles continues to drive the demand for T-shirt products.”
As the market moves forward, performance features like body-temperature regulation and slimmer, more modern fits in wovens are playing a more important role and meeting consumer demand for increased comfort and better fits.
“It does take longer for fashion trends to materialize in a way that applies to the market, but it will happen where applicable,” says Corinna Wright, design director for Dickies Occupational Wear. “Athleisure [is] the perfect example of a trend that applies and is now widely followed.”
Take fabric trends, which are all about finishes. Whether it’s repelling liquids, thermoregulation technologies or wrinkle release, fabric finishes will be the source of continued industry innovation. Performance fabrics also are starting to be blended with spandex or a similar fabric to offer a different feel and look.
“The biggest trend we see is within fabrics,” says Tim Stiene, vice president of sales, Century Place Apparel. “Our solid polos have always been our top sellers, but over the past few years, demand for textured and heathered fabrics has grown. In addition, our color palette has also grown. Even though black is still a top color, it is nice to offer several pastel or soft tones within our styles.”
Perhaps no plackets and wovens niche has more upside than the corporate/workwear sector, where the look continues to inspire a personal staple for companies looking to model a brand identity. For example, placket shirts are flexible in that they can be dressed up with the addition of a jacket or made casual with a quick change to jeans.
One of the most appealing factors for corporate end users is versatility, i.e., providing a look for all ages and style preferences across an organization. As a corporation looks to outfit all employees’ needs — from Millennial newcomers to seasoned executives — the need to provide designs that serve as multi-purpose purchases will be in big demand.
One of the biggest reasons is that today’s corporate world is more casual than ever. Because a large majority of working employees and corporate executives still work in an office environment, traditional, non-athletic woven styles and plackets will continue to have a home.
“Fashion will always play a role within corporate wear,” Century Place’s Stiene says. “Corporate buyers need to balance the demands between fashion, functionality, appearance and budget. Over the years, more fashionable styles have been offered within the market, but we have to be careful not to go too extreme.”
Stiene says placket shirts provide a more professional appearance than T-shirts, which means they are found in a wide array of markets, from food service to front office.
“Fabrics and fashion will vary among markets,” he says. “Typically, a server may wear a more basic styled shirt while an office employee may wear a style with more fashion.”
Gildan’s Scott-Samuel says fashion has become a driving force in corporate looks. “The workforce is changing, and the end consumer is more aware of designs, fit, fabrics, brands and construction,” she says. “They now look for products that are similar to what they are wearing in the personal life. Small details, whether functional or not, are of interest to the consumer. They want something that makes the garment stand out and gives it an identity without being too ‘in your face.’”
One market where plackets and wovens will get more play in 2019 is the service industry, where a polo’s professional appearance and comfort are ideal. “Rougher jobs outside of service/hospitality that require durable abrasion resistance mean you’d look to a woven over a placket or polo,” Dickies’ Wright says.
Whether it’s a button-down collar, spread or point collar with a traditional button placket, such looks should stay relevant moving forward for corporate types.
“The opportunity for suppliers is to create fresh styling features that mimic what is shown at retail,” Edwards Garment’s Lloyd says. “Roll-up-sleeve shirts in chambray fabric are extremely hot at retail and with corporate buyers. And if the shirt fabric provides a soft hand with a heathery look, everyone wins.”
As for wovens shirts and basic tees, they must be comfortable and complement the wearer’s style. For Edwards Garment, woven shirts are popular in markets such as hotels/lodging; casinos and resorts; restaurants and catering; museums; zoos; entertainment; theme parks; security; transportation; warehouse and logistics; healthcare; assisted-living centers; and education.
“All these markets and more make woven shirts a must-have for corporate buyers,” Lloyd says.
Dad shirts and sweaters. Stretch woven tops. Layering pieces and pants. “Ath-luxe,” a dialed-up version of athleisure. Pick a trend and you’re bound to find plackets and wovens in the mix.
For woven shirts, decoration via traditional embroidery or heat transfers will be considered stylish, especially on the corporate side.
“Building the brand is key for all corporate buyers and decoration is a great way for them to promote their company,” Edwards Garment’s Lloyd says.
Manufacturers also are dialing things up with technology and fabric construction. Some styles include proprietary yarns that enhance the performance and last the life of the garment. Additionally, lightweight, stretch wovens with ripstop and variegated patterns are becoming popular.
“Decorators have so many options and are more educated on techniques, so they are able to offer more premium fabrications,” Gildan’s Scott-Samuel says.
When it comes to plackets and wovens, today’s consumer will continue to determine if a polo or woven shirt is best. In the end, athleisure will continue to play its part.
“The rise of athleisure has definitely made it more acceptable to wear plackets/polos and T-shirts over wovens,” Dickies’ Wright says. “For the general population, athleisure is still trending up into 2019.”
Michael J. Pallerino is an award-winning writer who has written for a number of national consumer and trade publications. For more information or to comment on this article, email Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keying on Color
The new year will see a bevy of color options for plackets and wovens. For example, a twist to the classic maroon and turquoise, in richer tones such as plum and deep aqua blue, will drive looks. In addition, non-traditional soft pastels, such as coral, lavender and mauve gray, will capture attention as alternatives to white or gray.
“Colors [for 2019] are more sophisticated and not just your traditional red, royal and navy,” Gildan’s Scott-Samuel says.
Other popular colors include the basics: white, blue, French blue, khaki, black and a high shade, such as lavender, along with colorful stripes and tattersalls. Red and charcoal will be popular alternative colors, and variations of oranges, greens and neons will garner attention.
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