A New Active Uniform

Next Season’s Collections Usher in Dressing with Intention.

Trend forecasters are having a field day predicting what consumers will want to wear in the future. The “Work From Home” wardrobe established during coronavirus restrictions likely will stick around, but even that category of clothing will give way to new silhouettes and fabrications elevating the loungewear look defining our pandemic lifestyles. But Spring/Summer ’22 collections aim higher, say experts, with fabrications that usher in a new era of high quality, functionally fit, eco-conscious active/outdoor apparel. It is believed that the period of prolonged reflection and isolation during COVID sparked a re-evaluation of what we wear. The result: Slow fashion replacing fast fashion and timelessness replacing here-today-gone-tomorrow trendiness.

Dressing with intention” is next season’s mantra, with “purposeful” “responsible” and  “functional” routinely used to describe new active collections. An expectation of durability, both in terms of textile longevity and emotional attachment is also a key attribute of Spring ’22 active trends. Minimalist designs, calm colors and transparency are also defining features.

In her Kingpins24 talk on post pandemic consumption habits, Dilek Erik an executive with denim brand Sharabati Denim explained, “Consumers are re-defining expectations and asking more from their purchases. They have higher standards, want extra performance, and are more appreciative of quality. They want to be uplifted by what they wear, and knowledgeable about what goes into making their products.”

Emergence of a Natural Revolution

“This is a cool moment in trend history,” commented Sue Jesch, director of design, Smartwool. “Consumers are more focused on being self reliant, making more out of less, and trying DIY hacks. Designers are focused on better product, simplicity and perfectly thought through product. Collections are pared down to feature thoughtful, functionally-based garments that allow for crossover appeal.”

Jesch added, “Loungewear has been in the spotlight. Comfort is important, but what sets Smartwool apart is longevity and investment and this makes it attractive to consumers going forward”  

Innovation for purpose is the focus of Smartwool’s Spring ’22 collection, which Jesch has themed “Emergence.” There is a strong spotlight on responsible development. She explained that while articles remain heavy on the Merino, blends with Tencel and bio-based yarns, along with linen and ramie will debut. “I see it as a Natural Revolution,” stated Jesch.

In addition, Smartwool is expanding its use of plant-based dyes and exploring utilizing natural color wool. Further, repurposed wool, from excess material, will also be filtered into new products.

“Smartwool is keeping the foot on the gas with sustainable efforts to protect our outdoor playground,” Jesch concluded.

“This is a cool moment in trend history, collections are pared down to feature thoughtful, functionally-based garments that allow for crossover appeal.” — Sue Jesch, director of design, Smartwool  

Less is More Prevails

Cotton Incorporated’s Spring/Summer 2022 active trend overview included lifestyle influences, color selection, and fabric trend direction. Senior trend forecaster and activewear specialist Jenna Caccavo identified “Down to Earth” as the number one big trend of S/S 22.  

The trend is based on practical, solution-oriented designs that reflect consumers desire for quality over quantity, explained Caccavo, an activewear specialist for Cotton’s fashion marketing department. “Protective elements will be the required norm.” Clean, monochromatic looks that exude a Zen-like feeling of security are on trend.

Caccavo forecasts “calm and capable” designs with a soft aesthetic with soothing colors yet are tech driven. Compact knits will feature clean, smooth surfaces. Chemical-free performance will be important, too. Said Caccavo, “The structure of the fabric will get the job done. Functionally will be achieved by construction.”

The theme of “Simplified Utility” will be the order of the day in S/S ’22, translated to clothing that allows the wearer to be prepared for anything, and not look out of place anywhere,” shared Caccavo.

Utilitarian Refinement

“Fashion needs upgrading with good design, with purpose. Not just a sustainability hang tag on an unemotional replacement product,” announced Jos Berry, who hosted a panel discussion as part of the Interfilière talk series organized on by the Eurovet tradeshow organization.

“We are entering a completely new world, following this period of reflection during which women found what is important in their lives, what they want to achieve and find beautiful,” said Berry, a leading voice in the lingerie, swim and loungewear industry.

Women are comfort creatures said Berry, who noted that activewear brands have been leading the charge on this design concept. However, lingerie brands are no longer obsessed by tradition, according to Berry, and are now moving in the direction of what Berry calls “Smart Design.” These are garments that one can dress up, or dress down, and combine comfort with femininity.

Panelist Jenny Wigham, a design consultant, noted that “better living with less” is a strong trend for S/S ’22, which she has themed “Essence.” Designers will take a functional classic look and elevate essential attributes and make it modern,” forecasts Wigham.

Fuss-free and easy on the eye, but not plain or boring, S/S ’22 will feature textile innovation, said Wigham. She sees evolution in “considered design” and “slow design,” an approach that adds builds a sustainable future.

“Compact knits will feature clean, smooth surfaces. Chemical-free performance will be important, too.” — Jenna Caccavo, senior trend forecaster/ activewear specialist, Cotton Incorporated


Sustainability continues to be a top-of-mind trend for next season’s developments, whether that’s in active, intimates or outdoor.  “Communication, transparency and diversity are keys to sustainability,” said Aude Penouty, a design consultant for Entada Textile. “And it all starts with the fabric.”  

Viginie Wittmer, business unit manager at Sofileta, agreed, describing her company’s clean supply chain and business model as an example. Based in France, Sofileta takes a holistic approach incorporating social and eco responsibility from ingredients to finished product. Recent textile advances include fiber made from a blend of new-generation polyamide 6,6, that can decompose quickly when in discarded in nature or a landfill.

Called Amni Soul Eco, the new textile has a unique composition that allows bacteria to eat and digest it, thus accelerating the biodegradation process.

As well as being biodegradable, Amni Soul Eco offers comfort and softness, while offering breathable properties. It’s easy-care and machine washable, according to Wittmer.

When it comes to sustainable practices, Berry takes a wide view, stating, “Sustainability is not only the fiber, or the end product, but how you behave, awareness of creativity and providing a pleasant life to others.”