Popular Style Trends in Corporate Apparel for 2017

When it comes to apparel, style counts.

More than any other product category in the branded merchandise business, apparel requires distributors to stay on top of trends to best advise clients. Naturally, you’re probably wondering what’s hot for the year ahead. Well, if 2017 had a fashion theme, it would be this: what’s old is new again.

As you’ll see, retro and vintage pieces are clearly making a catwalk comeback, with a number of top trends taking inspiration from patterns of the past. From “dad hats” to heritage tees, colorblocked tops to denim and flannel wovens, the so-called “has-beens” are once again the must-haves of fashion.

1. The Dad Hat Is Back

The “dad hat” is an unstructured cotton or canvas baseball cap that has a slightly curved bill and, most characteristically, a strap back. The term was originally pejorative – a way fashion-forward millennials who liked flat-bill caps could mock uncool, outdated hats dads wore to Little League games and barbecues.

Well, now it seems the dad hat is getting the last laugh. From counter-culture hipsters to college kids, skateboarders to major celebrities, a cross-section of fashion-conscious people are donning the formerly unhip hats. Indeed, style luminary Lebron James even sported one during the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA championship victory parade.

For businesses, the dad hat trend means targeting a younger demographic to appeal to end-users. Most common fits for dad hats include schools, universities, fraternities, sororities, musical acts, drink brands, concert venues and more. Plus, the dad hat is likely to carry continued appeal to the people who unwittingly gave the accessory its name: Dads and other adults north of 30.

2. The Resurgence of Heather

Garments that feature heather colored fabric may just be the hottest trend of 2017.

Heather refers to interwoven yarns of mixed colors producing flecks of an alternate color. Often, heathered fabrications involve multiple shades of gray or gray with another color to produce a muted shade. However, any colors – including bright ones – can be mixed in heathered arrangements.

If you’re a football fan, you may have already seen a key heathered trend on the sidelines: Coaches have worn polo shirts that feature heathered elements in colorblocked designs. During warmer weather games this fall, Notre Dame coaches frequently had on polos that included heathered fabric at the shoulder, collar and sleeves. See the look here http://ntrda.me/2dpjfPx.

3. Short-Sleeve Sweatshirts

Short-sleeve sweatshirts will carry a cool cachet in 2017, especially with women.

4. Heritage T-shirt Designs

In the T-shirt space, heritage styles that are popular at retail will be in high demand among logoed apparel buyers. Ringer tees, baseball tees and varsity tees are transitioning smoothly into the promotional apparel market in Madison, WI.

While the retro look of these shirts is enticing, end-users also want contemporary performance features including moisture-wicking and cooling attributes.

5. Colorblocking for Accent

Colorblocking will add pizzazz to polos and T-shirts including shoulder and sleeve accents.

6. Polo 2017: Traditional Patterns, Blues & Neon Touches

Traditional menswear prints associated with wovens have expanded into the polo shirt category. Gingham, checks and tattersall provide a break from the normal solid color polo. Popular colors at retail include saturated shades of navy, blue and indigo, so expect those hues to figure prominently in the promo marketplace. Lastly, it should go without saying that performance features – like moisture wicking and odor control – will remain on buyers’ wish lists.

7. Sporty Scuba Necks

When brands like Lululemon and Under Armour feature a style, you know it’s huge. Such is the case with scuba necks on hooded sweatshirts. Adding practical warmth and sharp zipped-up style, scuba necks are now adorning performance hoodies in the promotional products industry.

8. Pleats

Designers are using pleats in different ways to create interest and dimension. From side pleats to barely-there pleats, this is a great way to dress up a style or staple. Check out how simple pleating elevates elegance including scoop neck and pleated cap sleeves.

9. Insect-Repelling Apparel

This is a must for us in Madison and Wisconsin generally. Performance wear is evolving with fresh innovations that aim to go beyond moisture wicking and antimicrobial. There is a revolutionary clothing on the market that repels ticks, ants, flies, fleas, chiggers, midges and mosquitoes, including the one that carries the Zika virus.

The bug-battling garments feature Skintex technology, which uses permethrin, a contact insecticide that damages the nervous systems of insects and kills them.

10. Slub Chic

For several years, buyer interest in T-shirts featuring slub fabrications has been growing. Many designers believe the trend will take off in both the men’s and women’s categories in 2017, especially on campuses and at schools, and with fashion-forward clients. At their best, slub fabrics present an organic image that’s rich with an element of vintage Americana.

11. The Return of Pink

For women’s apparel colors in 2017, trend spotters are expecting a return to femininity – and that translates to many manifestations of pink.

12. Olive Green Activewear

Look for olive green to show a prominence in the market in 2017.

13. Woven in Denim and Flannel

Cotton-based denim and flannel woven shirts are important components of many retail collections headed into 2017. A long-time industry standard for construction companies, workwear and corporate branded apparel, the trend will continue expanding in the branded apparel space. Interestingly, the appeal is coming from artsy brands keen to convey a hip image.

14. Buttoned-Down Performance

While denim and flannel wovens are making inroads, they’re not about to supplant more corporate-image button-downs in the branded apparel realm. Bet on it that performance wovens featuring moisture-wicking fabrics and stretchy materials will remain in high demand. Companies are investing in their employees and using apparel programs to keep their employees engaged in their brand while professionally representing on a daily basis.

15. Accented With Camo

Camouflage-patterned apparel is hardly an emerging trend, but it is one that is likely to stay strong in 2017, conveying an outdoorsy image with country-cool appeal. In addition to full-coverage camo patterns, anticipate that designers will use camo as an accent in caps, fleeces and shirts. Coming out of hunting season here in Wisconsin, there is a huge camo contingency.

16. Oversized Is In

The craze for oversized T-shirts, jerseys and sweatshirts is reaching a fever pitch at retail. The mania will continue growing in the promo industry, too, especially within the education and hospitality markets. This is the layering backlash from athleisure.

17. Puffed Up, Slimmed Down, Retro-Inspired

In the arena of corporate branded outerwear, several distinct styles will be among the most sought-after looks. They include puffer jackets and soft-shell bonded jackets that deliver warmth without bulk. These jackets provide a polished, retail-inspired appearance that is perfect for executives, sales professionals, engineers, construction managers and more. That said, there’s also an element of old-school running through the outerwear category, with retro-style windbreakers and coaches jackets back in the limelight.


Think it Then ink it is a promotional products and branded apparel company in Verona, WI. We build brands with logoed corporate, team, and event products from our vertically integrated design and fulfillment center. One of our unique capabilities is our specialized corporate branded stocking program that provides on-demand access to your customized products. Find out about our custom web apparel stores or available products and services at ThinkitTheninkit.com or call us at 608-845-5300.

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