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Monday 19th November 2018
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Past, Current & Future Trends in Corporate Clothing
Feature: 4/2/2010

 
eing asked to comment on past and future trends in this industry is almost ‘all in a day’s work’. We are constantly referring to previous industry experience and the expertise gained from the 13 years of the company’s existence and likewise we must be able to predict, and sometimes create, future trends in design, fabric, production and delivery in this demanding market sector.

Whilst high street retailers are looking forward to the next season or even the next year, designers of corporate clothing must have far more foresight, as corporate clothing collections can take many months to create and once rolled out can be worn for two years or more.

In order to have the far-sighted approach needed for style and fabric trends, our designers attend fashion and fabric events all over the world. Just recently they have returned from a fabric show in China and this month they will be at Premier Vision in Paris alongside all the retail high street and haute couture designers. But they mustn’t get carried away; their designs are not destined for the finely toned fashionistas who may wear a garment for one event or one season. Their corporate designs are destined for men and women of all shapes and sizes, who wear these clothes day in and day out in working situations. The skill of corporate clothing designers is to take a fashion trend and translate it into a workable, comfortable, cost-effective design feature that will allow the wearer to feel part of the fashion scene within the corporate framework.

As the scope for smart yet comfortable corporate clothing extends its reach, it has become increasingly important to be able to recreate the feel and drape of fashionable fabrics into easy care options. For instance, whereas a holiday rep would once have been given a T-shirt and a pair of shorts they are now dressed in smarter garments; perhaps a jacket or blazer, skirt or trousers, shirt, blouse or more casual top for meeting and greeting at airports and quaysides. But their hectic lifestyle and hotel domicile dictates that these must be easy care, as in some locations reps have to hand wash garments, dry them quickly and have no time for ironing. Nano technology is an intrinsic part of the easy care trend allowing garments to be treated with a stain resistant coating so that less laundering is required.

The trend to offer variety and choice to buyers and wearers is also increasing. The demand is now for corporate collections and not uniforms with wearers being given points and not allocations. The skill is to create a collection that gives a variety of style options from a few garments by including flexible products such as a top that can be worn tucked in or out to give a different look. But far from expecting employers to provide fashionable additions to the wardrobe each season, the trend is now for wearers who want the ‘high street’ look to pay for extra garments to give their outfit a seasonal refresh. This lengthens the life of the wardrobe and is therefore also a benefit to the client.
Moving away from the fashion orientated customer-facing sector and into the workwear wardrobe the trend is now away from the ubiquitous fleece and moving towards the use of shell jackets. This demand has been lead by the wearer who can now buy and wear high quality garments with breathable and waterproof qualities in their private life and have come to expect these qualities in their working wardrobe.

From politics to policing and from manufacturing to marketing, the words ‘eco-friendly’ occur in almost every brief. But, don’t think that by including a bamboo T-shirt or an organic cotton shirt in your collection you can satisfy the demands of clients and wearers. In fact these garments are often just window dressing to appease immediate demand. Those who look a little further into the intricacies of producing and delivering a corporate wardrobe will know that far more eco impact can be derived from using recycled paper for wearer guides or abandoning the printed version altogether and putting an electronic catalogue and ordering system online, negating the use of paper order forms entirely. This has led to us creating dedicated, password-protected ‘Client Zones’ within our website, where collections can be viewed and orders placed. This is also backed-up by dedicated call centre facilities where our staff wear client outfits so that they can offer first hand advice on fit, comfort and style so there are less returns, less packaging, less delivery miles and less waste.

On the production front, we’ve seen the trend for European manufacture move to the Far East but now we tend to promote dual sourcing. Whilst it may be slightly more expensive, European manufacture is a speedier option for ‘special measures’ or emergency top ups, so we have developed strong partnerships with manufacturers in varied locations who have equal capabilities. Dual sourcing also offers options at shutdown times, such as Chinese New Year when manufacturing comes to a halt.

Needless to say in these constrained financial times, the trend has been to drive down costs, whilst maintaining quality and also offering the design details demanded by fashion trends. Things like fancy necklines, additional buttons, bows and ruching all come at a cost, but by creating and maintaining strong partnership agreements with our manufacturers we have been able to balance any premium to overall client demand.

As for future trends, our insight into these will be revealed in Incorporatewear’s fashion scene and on our stand at the forthcoming Workwear & Corporate Clothing Show.

 One of the modern factory units used by

Incorporatewear in China

Author: Rob Pollock
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