A lthough it could be argued that something is already fairly exposed by the time it reaches retail stores, I generally find that the styles which become popular in the shops soon feature among the requests I’ll receive for custom decoration. This is why I pay close attention whenever I’m near a clothing store that offers decorated selections. While long delays for garment manufacturers to catch up with the retail trends were once the norm, the lead time for popular new brandable styles to become available to decorators has shortened dramatically. This wider availability of quality blanks in a large range of styles means that the primary concern I now face usually has more to do with decoration styles than sourcing garments comparable to those I see in high street displays. That’s why you can often find me taking covert pictures and typing notes about the decorations I see in retail settings. It may look odd to inspect apparel on a mannequin, but by looking at the kind of decorations, the materials used, placements, popular subject matter, colours and garment combinations, I have a large store of potential decoration styles I can remix or recreate when a customer is looking This wall of caps at a major industry trade show reveals a wealth of new and interesting styles to choose from This retail display revealed that eclectic patches – once a niche look – has now made its way into the mainstream. A commercial client may never want this particular look, but a coordinated patch set could make a great promotional product or even a uniform decoration for an adventurous company An In s t agram searc h f or # ur banfashion reveals some current styles and trends to follow if your customers are in this segment. A brief scroll shows lots of athletic sets and multiple, large decorations. Cues are everywhere for something new and exciting, as well as a familiarity with those styles that are current in the market. Visit with vendors Whether this takes place virtually, with an on-site representative, or at a trade show, I always make the time to talk to my vendors regularly and check out their latest offerings. My research pales in comparison to the experience that vendors bring to bear before producing or sourcing new garment styles. Though this certainly doesn’t make everything they produce instantly popular, you can bet that any risk they take is based on their best guess for KB TIPS & TECHNIQUES 46 images FEBRUARY 2020 Trend patterns Whatever segment you serve, there’s a constant pressure to be ahead of the curve when it comes to trends in garments and decoration techniques. Erich Campbell shares some tips on how to make sure you know what’s new and desirable in the market