The biggest apparel trends for 2018

Fashion UK’s Amber Hill gives her fashion forecast for the biggest apparel trends of the year.

In the fast moving world of fashion, predicting trends can be a challenge, add in the interchangeable popularity of television franchises, films, documentaries and other pop culture phenomenons, and it’s clear to see why foreseeing licensed apparel trends can be even more testing. While Minnie Mouse may seem a million miles away from Marc Jacobs, in fact what works for one may work for the other.

Amber Hill, creative director at Fashion UK, discusses her predictions for the biggest apparel trends for 2018, and why character designs may not be as far away from high fashion as it could first be thought.


Sportswear has been met with global popularity throughout the decades; at its peak in 1990 we saw hip-hop artists wearing baseball jackets, and athletic branded socks worn with everything.

Historically, Athleisure style was inspired by USA track and basketball stars, but since Britain’s track successes in the 2012 Olympics, athletics figures like Mo Farah have regularly been centre stage in sporting news. Combine the historical popularity of sportswear with the recent peak in consumer enthusiasm, and it seems only natural that Athleisure style is set to revive in 2018.

Spliced letters and numbers, and back placement prints and badges, are just some of the archetypal icons of athleisure and this upcoming trend will embrace all of these. This rise in sportswear designs also means that marl knits and airtex will be making a big appearance in 2018. These materials are key to creating the right Athleisure look and adapt well to bold colour and printing effects.

At Fashion UK we’ve been ardently creating our Harlem Globetrotters products and have loved testing all the different ways of using these materials, from slicing and font mixing, to cut and sew styling. As well as marl knits and airtex, we also expect neppy jersey effects to feature as this gives a great textured, yet casual appearance.

Girl Power

Girl power slogans and positive statements will be on every street in 2018. This trend has been inspired by figures such as Beyonce, Emma Watson, Katy Perry and Rihanna, who have helped give rise to feminism and gender equality on a cultural stage.

These garments are designed around the consumer desire to make a confident, impactful statement, and this will be reflected in apparel by bold central placements and careful choosing of trending terms and slogans.

Female characters are poised to dominate in 2018. Films such as Wonder Woman and Batgirl are just a couple of examples of the development of popular female characters within the entertainment industry, and with the rising interest in girl power there will only be more to come.

Modern Mariner

2018 will see coastal and marine designs having more multi-seasonal appeal. This style has typically been regarded as a spring/summer look, but the popularity of blue has soared over the past two years and the vast palette available allows marine designs to be translated into shades that are appropriate for all times of the year.

This trend has been partially shaped by nature documentaries such as the BBC’s Blue Planet, which has sparked audience interest across the globe. We work closely with the Natural History Museum to design some of our products, making sure that they are not only fun but educational, and they’ve found their blue whale and marine exhibits to currently be some of the most popular.

That said, prints and graphics inspired by open seas, fish and sharks are just one dynamic to this trend. Nautical stripes will be given a twist to echo choppy waves, and hand drawn elements will be more heavily introduced in order to inspire a feeling of authenticity and craftsmanship. This enthusiasm for nature in its purest form, and the consistent consumer favour for blue hues, will drive this trend throughout 2018.

Street Tropical

Tropical was one of the hottest trends in 2017 and it shows no sign of cooling. Pineapples, flamingos, watermelons – these icons have become streetwear staples, and 2018 will see them joined by jungle-inspired motifs from flora to fauna to fruits.

When thinking tropical clothing it’s only natural that Hawaiian shirts in neon yellows, bright greens and vivacious pinks come to mind. Resort shirts are a predominant style and will remain strong this year with adventurous prints translated into simple repeats to give them commercial appeal. Graphic tees are also at the forefront of this trend and are perfect garments to be playful with. We’ve recently introduced tropical into some of our favourite character designs such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, in order to add an extra sense of fun, and they’ve been incredibly well received.

Tropical is largely designed for casual styles of attire, and as such, there are hints of Athleisure trends within these designs. Among the resort shirts and graphic tees, sporty details such as striped rib trims will be found. Meanwhile, the materials used will be lightweight as these designs lend themselves to summer.

2018 Snapshot

2018 is set to be a great year for apparel, for both children’s and adult’s wear alike. The high streets will see bold colours, graphic prints and maximalist designs interlink with authentic depictions of nature, casual cuts and textural highlights.

Lifting the overall trend trophy this year will be Athleisure, as hints of this style are found throughout the range of fashion looks predicted for 2018. Lightweight materials and garments will be at the forefront, given depth with hints of structure, such as striped rib trims.

There are so many elements within the Athleisure, Girl Power, Modern Marnier and Street Tropical trends for designers to experiment with, and we’re really excited to soon be able reveal our adaptations of these trends and see what the biggest hits are on the high street.

Amber Hill is creative director at Fashion UK.

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