Making predictions is usually a bit tricky, but it’s a decidedly risky business in the current climate. Let’s face it, not much in 2020 turned out the way that any of us would have expected. To lighten the mood a little, we thought it might be fun to think about colour trends for custom printing in 2021. Those t-shirt and hoodie colours that we think could soon be flying off the screen printing carousels and embroidery machines, adorned with a stand-out logo or stunning design. We’re not saying these are guaranteed to go, none of us can say anything with great certainty right now, just that there are signs they’ll prove popular.
Customising clothes has always had an element of fashion in the mix, even back in the day when we started out printing t-shirts in London for punk bands. The fashion influence has only grown in the interim. Standard colours are steady and reliable sellers, but business is increasingly conscious of how important it is to capture the mood of the moment. Whilst some may dismiss trend as so much fluff and nonsense, others recognise it as a valuable insight into the coming customer preference. And that customer could just as easily be an online buyer for a designer branded t-shirt or a member of staff who’s just been handed this season’s staff uniform. Retail sale or workwear freebie, the wearer wants to feel like they’ve got an item which is in tune with their times.
Not Quite Whites.
We’ve noticed a resurgence of natural, off-white shades in several collections and it seems set to be a feature of colour trends for custom printing in 2021. Decorating white t-shirts never gets old for us, but there is something about this subtly organic toning that makes a nice change. There’s a softer edge to variations on white which is somehow wholesome and comforting.
That’s a thread which flows through this piece, nature making itself felt in the colours that we want to wear.
Natural Colour Trends for Custom Printing in 2021.
There are quite a few ‘natural whites’ out there and we’ve picked out the three above to demonstrate the delicate diversity within them.
Heather Dust is from Bella + Canvas, a US blank clothing brand which has its finger firmly on the fashion pulse. They also do their best to operate in an ethical manner.
Natural Raw is a colour that’s cropping up in more and more Stanley Stella garments. It’s deliciously calm. A creamy, soft colour that appeals to young and old and is great for print.
Nature Unbleached is in the Neutral Certified Responsibility catalogue. It perfectly embodies both the colour name and the company philosophy. Making better clothes makes printing and embroidery better.
Not quite white is somehow very right for organic products. It’s probably no coincidence that the most ecologically-aware blank brands have these colours prominent in their ranges. Whether it be a t-shirt or hoodie, tote bag or towel, not being brilliant white is something that, thankfully, will be part of the future norm.
Beige and Brown are Back.
On the heels of the ‘not quite white’ trend, beiges and browns are back. Don’t worry, it’s not all into the time-warp for a trip down Seventies memory lane to visit searing blandness. These are earthy and warm beiges and browns with plenty of heat thrown in to spice up proceedings. In many ways, it’s a logical extension of the raw and unbleached look. An instinctive move toward organic, living things. The preference for skin tones and humanity over techno, man-made and artificial.
There are plenty of beiges and browns about and more are coming online all the time. As a rule these days, the marketing folk feel obliged to give them more interesting names.
Brown Triblend from Bella + Canvas and Mocha from B&C Collection are darker choices. Desert Sand in the Anthem Clothing range and Tan in the Gildan catalogue are contemporary takes on the lighter shades. Coffee from AS Colour and Garment Dyed Caramel from Stanley Stella are in middling ground and add a culinary flavour to the story for 2021.
Strong pastel might seem like contradictory wording, but the pastels on our colour trends for custom printing in 2021 have a little more zing and pizzazz. They’re slightly different to the faded, rather insubstantial colours normally associated with the term pastel. Natural colours are at the heart of it, shades imbued with a sense of freedom and joy, and a gentle vibrancy runs through them all.
Wishy-washy orange and insipid green are gone, replaced by richer mushroom and heather mint. Stem green feels alive, you can almost smell grass and things growing in the field. Pale pink is a little less pale and light lavender more lilac petal. We’ve featured products from Stanley Stella, Bella + Canvas and AWDis, but there are numerous instances and many blank brands where examples can be found.
Nobody is suggesting that plain t-shirts are on their way out. However, there does appear to be a greater willingness to experiment with pattern and effects. Tie dyes, dip dyes, and batik dyes. Extracting the main colour in random patches or adding to it with all over prints. From a screen printer’s perspective, these techniques can limit what’s printed since the design needs to accommodate the variation in the background fabric. That said, these garments can be the basis for some stunning results.
Quite a few blank clothing brands are producing this kind of stuff and we’ve shown Build your Brand, Colortone and Stanley Stella above. The design printed on the Bleach-Out shirt by Colortone is a good illustration of what can be achieved with these type of t-shirts.
White, black and grey are timeless fashion colours and staple choices when it comes to printing and embroidery. Including them on this piece can’t be avoided because they’re a constant and therefore an integral part of any trend. Contrast is often one of the more basic requirements for screen printing, a surface that lets the message shine bright, and white and black offer clear advantages in that respect. Grey may not provide quite the same level of contrast, but it is a delightfully inoffensive blank canvas for decoration.
That’s about it now on colour trends for custom printing in 2021. We wanted to end on a reassuring note. Whichever way the wind blows, whatever the current vogue, monochrome retains a magical appeal and is here to stay when it comes to customisation. You won’t go too far wrong when printing white t-shirts.
It’ll be fascinating to see what appears in this year’s seasonal launches …hang on, this might need a revisit when the winter collections hit the bricks!