August '20

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2 2 G R A P H I C S P R O A U G U S T 2 0 2 0 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M White agrees to this point, recommending that producers offer fleece in multiple styles like pullover, crew, and full-zip style to meet both casual and professional fashion needs. He also points to lighter-weight garments like Cotton Heritage's Sponge Fleece as a strong option for students. For the student population, Davis points to ultra-soft and retro looks as popular choices. He contends producers can offer garment-dyed fleeces, like the HanesBrands ComfortWash line, as a midweight option for the student set looking for comfortable, fashionable goods. LOOKING AHEAD Trying to predict the next few months is nearly impossible, but decorators who keep an eye on these trends with back to school apparel are likely to have a leg up. Having a strong presence in the eCommerce world can also help solidify a shop's position as the economic climate continues to shift. White notes that he's seen many brands with a strong eCommerce presence thrive during the months of shutdown, and the gradual reopening is starting to benefit the back to school market. "As retailers begin to reopen, we are getting more requests from the brands we work with," he explains. "We are seeing a focus on core styles and colors as the orders for back to school come in." Additionally, if a shop can be flexible enough to meet a school's shifting needs when it comes to budget constraints and requests for more value-focused goods during a time of crisis, it'll resonate with their client. When schools come out on the other side in a future season, producers will have a better chance of offering premium fleece and other school apparel to those loyal customers. GP MIKE CLARK is the contributing editor for GRAPHICS PRO and RV PRO magazines. He previously served as the associate editor for Printwear and Sign & Digital Graphics magazines. Contact him at Producers should keep in mind that because of budget con- straints at schools, they need to be flexible on the price points and products they offer their school accounts this year. (Image courtesy Fruit of the Loom/JERZEES) Left: While the pandemic has influenced the increase for comfortable work at home clothing, sources suggest the demand for this category of fleece and outerwear has been on the rise even before COVID-19. (Image courtesy Cotton Heritage) Above: Decorated fleecewear will remain a staple for users long after they leave school or college. (Image courtesy HanesBrands)

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