On the Go: Messenger Bags 

BACK IN THE era of desktop computing, going mobile required a dolly and a lot of long cords. But just as laptops and tablets continue to remake the world of labor and leisure, the bags we use to keep those tools with us have undergone their own quiet revolution. 

Messenger bags aren’t the only option for the on the go business pro or student, but they are the one choice that comes with its own brand of “cool.” Whether it’s the image of a wily bike messenger barely surviving some urban adventure or the supreme confidence of a well-appointed executive carrying an equally tasteful bag, the messenger bag retains a certain flair that other styles can’t match.

Look around: these bags are definitely having a moment. With models at every price point and attention consistently focused on providing the most versatility in the sleekest design, messenger bags are poised to take your brand to all the right places. 


Plum Perfect for Fashion  

Plum isn’t just another shade of purple. It’s a trending color that pops up in everything from nail polish to wall paint to T-shirts. Pantone’s color of 2014, Radiant Orchid (Pantone #18-3224) is a rosier shade of purple that inspired many variations from fashion to decor. Sherwin-Williams names its take “Exclusive Plum” (SW 6263), which is described as a hue “with a balance of cool blue and feisty red with a splash of gray.” 

Plum can be made warmer with an increase of red and brown undertones, making it lively and positive. Colors that fall to the cooler side take on more gray, blue or black, creating shades of plum that appear sophisticated. Add a little white and plum becomes a pale tint perfect for a background.

“Radiant Orchid reaches across the color wheel to intrigue the eye and spark the imagination,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “An invitation to innovation, Radiant Orchid encourages expanded creativity and originality, which is increasingly valued in today’s society.”

Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams, recommends pairing its Exclusive Plum with accents of copper and the patina of well-worn leather for a more masculine appeal. Pops of magenta and chartreuse imbue plum with a lively, energetic vibe. Softer versions tinted with white or paired with a neutral become more feminine. 


Bags That Send ‘Clear’ Signals 

THE TRANSPARENT TOTE bag and purse trend has exploded over the past season, especially in the retail and wholesale markets. Numerous suppliers are providing them in all shapes, sizes and even colors, as are retail favorites like Forever 21 and even the swanky California-based boutique Forward by Else Walker.

Tania Sanchez, client specialist for Acehigh Tech Corp., says the transparent tote trend has developed not just in response to style but security. “Transparent bags are becoming a trend for two reasons: in response to the heightened security issues and in response to fashion itself,” she says. “Many places now have a requirement that all bag contents must be visible to ensure the safety of others. These bags provide an easy way to showcase all items and give you the assurance that no one is concealing any harmful objects.” In terms of fashion, Sanchez says that see-through totes are an easy and subtle way of flaunting. “The fashion statement given by these bags is none other than ‘look at what I have,’” she admits. “After all, we don’t just use things we like, but things we think others will like as well.” 


GET COMFY WITH Pajama-Style Fashions 

You only had to look so far as Marc Jacob’s or Rochas’s “Resort 2014” collections to see that designers continue to cozy up to pajama-themed fashions. From comfy silk blouses to loose-fitting jacquard-woven pants, the pajama trend offers supreme comfort tailored with suave sophistication.

“The popularity of loose-fitting women’s apparel has continued to grow over the past few years and isn’t expected to lose steam anytime soon,” says Ashley Nielsen, marketing manager for S&S Activewear. PJ bottoms are among the most popular items, says Nielsen: “Flannel pajama bottoms have been around for years and are popular for school and athletic programs.”

Pat Prosser, senior marketing manager for Boxercraft, says that pajama-inspired apparel has developed primarily in response to a need for convenience. “People are not just looking for comfy clothes,” she says. “They also want apparel that can be worn in all the different environments they find themselves in, whether it’s work, home, the gym or on errands.” She adds that pajama-styled fashions have gotten slightly more upscale as a result. “What was once referred to as loungewear is now being seen out-of-doors,” she explains, “and designs have accommodated that trend.” 


Check patterns are making waves

Check styles are a trendy print in fashion, offering a versatile, dynamic and abstract design that creates a cool visual effect. High-end fashion labels like Louis Vuitton (with its Damier collection) and Burberry (with its Heritage Check pattern) love them, as do casual trendsetters like Ralph Lauren and J. Crew with their gingham shirts and tops. The classic print can either make a bold or simple statement, while adding depth to a fashion piece.

The check print is making waves in the promotional market as well, as companies and organizations look for ways to separate their apparel from the traditional offerings. “The days of printing over solid colors only is long gone, in my opinion,” says Andrea Engel, vice president of portfolio management for alphabroder. “Thanks to extreme popularity in fashion for pattern and print, we are seeing our industry embrace the trend and delivering great-looking decoration on patterned apparel.”

There are a variety of popular check styles, all of them incredibly versatile: bold checks, houndstooth, windowpane, plaid, gingham, weaves and more. They vary in style and size and also come in a variety of color schemes that provide pieces with personality and character. There are feminine prints, large all-over prints, quilted looks, print blocking and simple checks, and they can be featured on jackets, woven shirts and polos.

Nancy Robitaille, head designer for Fersten Worldwide Inc./Fila Golf, cites a check base with a floral overlay as an especially exciting pattern option right now. “The check trend is popular because it creates depth in the fabric,” she says. “It gives the garment a higher perceived value due to the classic aesthetic of the design.”

Checks can be bold or subtle. For example, Fersten offers a heavyweight jacket with a checked patterned front. “The plaid fabric design hints at subtle texture,” says Robitaille, “yet the jacket can be decorated using most of our decoration techniques and the pattern does not interfere with a logo.”

"Checkered patterns can also be very sporty and would work well in the car/racing industry,” she says. Casual or sophisticated, you can “check” the box for either.