Retail trade shows lead to casual observations

Retail trade shows lead to casual observations

Byline: Brian Anderson

Camp shirts figure to remain hot for at least another year. Woven shirts with stripes will be big for casual men’s wear. And the retro jersey craze in streetwear is now well beyond retro.

These are among the observations of what’s on the way at retail based on what was happening at the late-August MAGIC Show in Las Vegas.

Actually, probably the most evident fashion craze at the show was the fact that practically every woman under 30 was wearing low-rise jeans and cropped tops that frequently exposed tattoos on the middle of their lower back, the current trendy tattoo location that has evidently become popular enough to become a cliche.

Women’s tattoo trends aside, perhaps the most interesting development on the way at retail is how the retro jersey craze has evolved to the point where it’s more than just retro jerseys with vintage designs and retired player names and numbers. Now the designs are retro-looking, but are completely original. Dozens of exhibitors in the Streetwear section of the MAGIC Show were featuring jersey and warmup suit styles that the teams they are based upon never wore at all, but they have the same look, feel and colors as the retro jerseys current star athletes and rappers made popular in hip hop and urban circles. That popularity, as usual, is leaking into the mainstream for the under-30 crowd.

I don’t expect that this trend will make its way very far into the corporate market, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the athleticwear suppliers in the industry coming out with styles similar to these – at least having some retro influence. Companies with lots of young employees might be intrigued by a distributor bringing them jerseys or warmup suits based on, say, the New York Knicks colors, but with the company’s name and logo instead of the Knicks’ name.

Checking out stripes

The striped woven shirt trend was everywhere at MAGIC in the Young Men’s, Men’s, Designer/Contemporary, and Casual Lifestyle pavilions of the massive show. These usually long-sleeve, open collar styles of button-front shirts had an incredible variety of stripe patterns and colors. Expect them to become popular in corporate casual offices, but I wouldn’t expect many industry suppliers to offer them because the stripe patterns make it next to impossible to effectively display a company logo. Still, if they end up selling well at retail in 2004, and with heavy hitters like Tommy Hilfiger embracing striped woven shirts, it might become popular enough for an industry supplier to develop a line with company logos in mind.

Camp shirts keep up

Based on what exhibitors were showing, camp shirts figure to have plenty of steam left for 2004. The majority of them seemed to have a Latin influence, often incorporating vertical embroidered patterns down each side. Camp shirts have sold well in the promotional market for the past couple of seasons, and labels like Cubavera, offered to the industry via Broder Bros., seem to hit the mark.

Western watch

Running concurrently in Las Vegas with the MAGIC Show was the much smaller IWE Show, which was the International Western and English Market show. Western wear is an apparel niche Wearables Business has explored with a couple of feature articles in the past year, including the August cover story.

While a handful of westernwear (or ranchwear) suppliers have already been doing a lot of business in the promotional market, I found a few others at this show who were very excited about the prospect of reaching the corporate market via promotional products distributors. Some of them were in the dark about our channel, but offer products like custom belt buckles, western-style outerwear and shirts, cowboy hats and even cowboy boots that could easily be customized with company names or logos.

Brian Anderson is Senior Managing Editor of Wearables Business.

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