Decorators, Check Out These Trends for 2021

Want to know what’s trending for 2021 in terms of apparel styles, colors, decorating techniques and online selling trends?

Don’t worry: We’ve done the heavy lifting for you. You’ll see everything from oversized message tees to comfort color palettes, to metallic threads and bold screen printing, and intuitive ecommerce sites on the horizon.

Check out our breakdown of some of the top trends that your clients will be excited about in 2021.


We all know that COVID-19 has accelerated trends that we saw pre-pandemic, namely more casual dress at work, and overall. While fashion in general has been trending toward a more casual and comfortable style of dressing, the huge bump in people working at home pushed it to the fore. That move toward overall casualization won’t go away; in fact, we’ll see it increase over the next year.

Make 2021 the year you step out of your comfort zone and try metallic threads in all shades in your designs.”
Nancy Mini, Madeira USA

Your takeaway? Pitch better- and best-quality apparel basics, like hoodies and T-shirts. Here are three style trends to watch for 2021:

  • Oversized: Roomy, streetwear-influenced T-shirt and hoodie styles meld comfort and fashion. Soft ringspun cotton tees and lightweight fleece pullovers elevate these basics, and make them perfect for year-round layering. Perfectly placed logos make for great brand recognition on Zoom calls.
  • Unisex: Future-looking fashion includes garments that all genders can wear, as brands move toward designing inclusive garments. Flexibility is also key, in styles that can be worn day to night, for work, play and everything in between.
  • T-shirts: The long-standing everyday staple for just about, well, everyone, the tee will continue as a statement-making style into 2021, with simpler graphics that express important messages. Buyers may trend toward more premium tees, for basics that end-users can wear on a video call or into the office.
3006 Bella + Canvas Men’s Long Body Urban T-Shirt


After a super-stressful year that included a pandemic and a polarizing U.S. presidential election, the Spring/Summer 2021 colors are versatile. According to the Pantone Color Institute, hues like Marigold and Cerulean “transcend the seasons and allow for more freedom of choice—colors that lend themselves to original color statements and whose flexibility easily adapts to our new and more fragmented lifestyle.”

Images Courtesy of Adobe Stock. Left to right: Victor Solomin/Stocksy United/Adobe Stock, Stocksy United/Adobe Stock, Addictive Creatives/Stocksy United/Adobe Stock, Pavloffav/Stocksy United/Adobe Stock, Lyuba Burakova/Stocksy United/Adobe Stock

The color story for the first half of 2021 reflects natural landscapes, as well as hooks into people’s desires for flexible colors that work year-round, for different occasions and lifestyles. “Infused with a genuine authenticity that continues to be increasingly important, colors for Spring/Summer 2021 combine a level of comfort and relaxation with sparks of energy that encourage and uplift our moods,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.

Here are four color stories to pitch to your clients in 2021: 

  • Orange and yellow hues: You’ve got a few comforting earthy tones to show off. Marigold is a warming, golden orange infused with yellow, and friendly Illuminating is an optimistic yellow that offers the promise of a sunny day. Burnt Coral is a shade that works for all genders. And Rust is an earth-inspired brown that calls to mind autumn leaves, so it’s an interesting, yet versatile shade for a spring palette. 
  • Blues and greens: The blues definitely have it this season, with light uplifting Cerulean reflecting the sky on a serene, cloud-free day, and French Blue, a stirring hue that engenders a vision of Paris in springtime. On the green side, your clients have two good choices: Mint, an invigorating shade that refreshes and restores, and Green Ash, a cool mentholated color that soothes.
  • Pink and purple pops: Of course, we need shades like Amethyst Orchid, which is a unique bright floral, and Raspberry Sorbet, an invigorating and tantalizing shade of magenta.
  • Classic neutrals: Heading into 2021, you’ll see a collection of toned-down neutrals that anyone can wear, all year long. Inkwell is a deep, intense blackened blue; Ultimate Gray is a medium-tone, reliable staple color; Smooth Buttercream is an effortless off-white; Desert Mist evokes images of shifting sands; and Willow brings shaded forests to mind.
1745 Comfort Colors Adult Heavyweight Color Blast T-Shirt

Andrea Routzahn, Senior Vice President Portfolio & Supplier Management at alphabroder | Prime Line says, “The color blast color palette is spot on for what is trending right now going into Spring 2021…NEW and tie-dye, plus it fits nicely with Pantone’s Spring 2021 Summer Bouquet color palette.”


You can incorporate bright and resilient metallic hues in greens, golds and jewel tones. One to try: Polyester CR Metallic threads from Madeira USA.

We checked in with Nancy Mini, senior marketing coordinator and backing specialist at Madeira USA, about embroidery trends. Make 2021 the year you step out of your comfort zone and try metallic threads in all shades in your designs,” she says.

You can incorporate bright and resilient metallic hues in greens, golds and jewel tones. One to try: Polyester CR Metallic threads from Madeira USA.

If you take a look at the winter runways, you’ll see statement-making metallics in gold and silver from a host of designers. For example, Ashish’s show-closer was a head-to-toe gold sequined dress and robe. And not to be outdone, Etro, Christian Cowan, Michael Kors and Celine paraded head-turning gold garments down the catwalk.

“Ecommerce and print-on-demand will be growth trends in 2021 and beyond.”
JP Hunt, InkSoft

Along with gold glamour, silver also glittered on the runway, with stunning looks from Alberta Ferretti, Versace and Area. The Versace show closed with Kendall Jenner wearing a structured hourglass-shaped mini dress totally covered in chainmail. Badgley Mischka showed off a more subdued slinky silver wrap dress. 

Whatever your metallic pleasure, Mini suggests showing your clients a range of metallics, from gold and silver, to greens, to jewel tones. “You can use versatile metallic embroidery threads in just about every type of design,” she says. “Add a hint of metallic to a corporate logo, badges, emblems or school sports team apparel to make the design pop. Metallics are perfect for decorators looking to step out of their comfort zone and experiment with specialty threads.”

For example, Madeira’s new Polyester CR Metallic 40-weight embroidery thread in 42 colors offers a shiny metallic look. “Try substituting metallic threads in your client projects and see how much of a difference it makes,” Mini says.


We checked in with Ryan Moor, CEO of Ryonet, about the top printing trends you should pay attention to, and add to your lineup.

  1. Bold and shiny is back.

Streetwear and rap culture are driving big, bold, thick and shiny prints. “This is great news for screen printers because plastisol inks and special effects are the best way to achieve this look,” Moor says. “One key: Lay down as thick of a glow ink layer as you can while maintaining details.”

Learn how to print “glowing” ink. Tip: Light colors will bring out the most of your glow.
  1. Go all-over and over-seam.

Again, streetwear trends are driving print size and placement to larger, more unique locations. Hip-hop and streetwear artists and brands want prints over the front and back of pants, and over seams, along with all-over printing on a garment. “Like bold and shiny printing, you can accomplish this look by screen printing using larger-format equipment, as these prints can easily approach 36” to 40” in size,” Moor says.

  1. Go full color or go home.

Many decorators are watching the full-color trend starting to come back in full force. “With the unlimited colors a digital machine provides, whether it’s full DTG, hybrid or sublimation printing, or digital transfers, artists and consumers can go to town with an almost unlimited color palette,” Moor says. “While these designs are harder to accomplish with screen printing, if you have the right art, screen  and equipment size, you can still compete in this space especially, when it comes to any high-volume production for those designs that blow up in popularity.”


As pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns continue, online sales are only expected to increase. A 29% increase is expected for Q4 2020 vs. the same time last year. Holiday shopping online will be huge with an anticipated 200% increase over last year, so e-shopping will lead buying trends into 2021 and beyond.

“We’ve watched consumers increasingly turn to simplified and convenient ways to interact with merchants and buy,” says JP Hunt, cofounder of InkSoft. “Directly related to e-commerce growth trends? Print-on-demand. To fulfill ecommerce orders and align with the fast shipment and order processing that consumers expect, decorators should consider leveraging POD to monetize short-run length ecommerce driven orders.” 

Infused with a genuine authenticity that continues to be increasingly important, colors for Spring/Summer 2021 combine a level of comfort and relaxation with sparks of energy that encourage and uplift our moods.” Leatrice Eiseman, Pantone Color Institute

If you don’t have an ecommerce site (or need to revamp your current site), your 2021 resolution is to set one up, right away. And don’t worry, if you don’t know where to start or are totally swamped, you can check out any of these industry-specific ecomm website providers, for starters  InkSoft, Printavo, OrderMyGear, DecoNetwork and Spirit Sale. These vendors make it easy for you to get up and running with an ecommerce site very quickly.

Here’s what you should keep in mind when you’re thinking about your cyber site: It must meet end-buyers’ expectations. “One mantra to consider: Can my customers self-service from my website?” Hunt says. “Today’s savvy ecommerce-enabled consumer expects to interact and purchase directly from businesses online because online shopping is the most convenient way to buy.” 

Consider these two major ‘buckets’ of end-customer interaction with our decorating shop online, per Hunt:

  • Order submission: “Your customer wants to place an order using their existing logo or brand identity,” Hunt says. “Does your website allow customers to upload their content and put it on blank products?”
  • Online personalization: A customer wants to place an order for personalized products and doesn’t have a logo or brand identity. “An online designer is the perfect e-commerce tool to empower this customer type to self-service and purchase,” Hunt says.


We’ve given you some great 2021 apparel, color, decorating and online selling trends to consider incorporating next year. Now, it’s time to put some (or all) of these into action.

Your apparel suppliers, decoration vendors and online web providers are a great source for learning more about what’s available to you, if you want to stock new styles, try a new imprinting technique or up your ecommerce game. We suggest that you reach out to your supplier shortlist to get a good idea of what’s out there for you.


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