Performance Features That Work Harder 

When discussing performance apparel, one typically refers to special fabrications, fibers and finishes that add a moisture management or antibacterial function to the garment. There are, however, features that have nothing to do with “technology.” They’re simply style components that have been used for decades in the construction of apparel to make it more comfortable, durable or useful. Here are five classic options that will complement a performance-engineered fabric:

1. Cord Lock keeps a cinching cord from retracting into the garment while pulled taut; it is usually a toggle or a stopper.

2. Drop Tail refers to the back hemline of a shirt; the back of the shirt is longer to keep the shirt tucked in or from riding up too high. It might also be called an Extended Tail.

3. Eyelets are the small holes finished with either a grommet or stitching that are meant to improve breathability. For example, they might be placed in the armpit of a shirt.

4. Side Vents are the slits placed at the hemline on each side of the garment, allowing a greater range of motion.

5. Storm Flap is the flat piece of fabric that runs either on the outside or inside along a zipper or other closure. It helps to keep rain and wind from penetrating a jacket. 



TAKE A LOOK at the latest fashions from Missoni, Givenchy and John Galliano, and one thing you won’t fail to notice is that stripes abound. Given fashion’s current obsession with all things geometric, it’s no wonder this pattern is showing up in abundance.

“Striped apparel is expected to do very well throughout 2014 and 2015,” says Shurli Allinott, president of Brandwear. “When you go into any retail store, you find a mix of striped apparel that creates interest.” Allinott is a fan of stripes for the instant fashion statement they make. “The beauty of stripes is that they can stand on their own. They can also be worn with a neutral or a bright color to add some fun to your wardrobe.” She makes a special note that neutral- based stripes for apparel “can be seen as quite progressive in terms of style.” 


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.”