Trend Alert: Sweatshirts

No apparel niche is immune to the ebb and flow of fashion. Consider sweatshirts, that old stand-by of complete comfort, the go-to garment when raking leaves or binge-watching a favorite show. Well, the tides of fashion have now ensnared even this everyman’s essential.

As usual, the runways have staked out the bleeding edge of this category, but even there, the humble sweatshirt can’t help but look completely wearable. “Sweatshirts are probably the most versatile outerwear item,” says Heather Brunner Kelly, marketing manager with Charles River Apparel, “and over the last year they have become a high-fashion article of clothing for both men and women.” Some of the latest twists, Brunner Kelly explains, include art-inspired embellishments and unique colors, fabrics and finishes. Charles River explores one new trend, that of ‘fleece sweatshirts’, which Brunner Kelly describes as “a unique combination of smooth-finished polyknit bonded to brushed microfleece.”

Christian Cochran, wholesale representative for American Apparel, has also noticed fashion’s new fixation on the sweatshirt. “Pullovers sweatshirts, specifically crewnecks, have been trending lately for both men and women alike,” he says. “We see a traditional fit remain popular amongst male consumers while women are gravitating towards lighter-weight fabrics as well as an oversized fit for a bit of extra length.” American Apparel’s tri-blend lightweight raglan pullover is a good example of this style of oversized pullover, relaxed, but with a flattering drape partly due to the lightweight cotton/poly/rayon blend. “The oversized fit lends itself to a fashion forward niche that’s been on the rise since the beginning of this last fall season,” says Cochran.

   

Brunner Kelly points out the “new, interesting retail-inspired sweatshirt styles,” that Charles River is producing – lighter-weight styles with features like a water-repellant coating that doesn’t interfere with the soft feel of the sweatshirt. These are easy to decorate, too, she says, with embroidery-friendly hoods and front-pouch pockets. 

And though women’s styles are generally more in touch with trends, there’s room for the less-fair sex to get involved, too. “We are even seeing some men, particularly with interest in the urban fashion market, who desire the oversized fit as well,” says Cochran. Everyone can still surrender unconditionally to comfort, basically, and now that feeling even comes with the fashion police’s approval.

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