Personalised t-shirts don’t usually follow the same trends as high-end labels, like the “outcast” kids in school, they’d rather dance to the beat of their own drum. But as the lines between luxury fashion and streetwear blend, we’re seeing more often than not instances where both worlds borrow elements from each other. Such is the case when we see a deconstructed t-shirt walking down the runway in a Fendi show (something unimaginable 20 years ago) and a diamond embroidered tee being sold for $400,000. That’s why when I started doing research for this post, it became almost impossible to separate the t-shirt trends from the high fashion ones.

The results are quite interesting:

As we’ve come to learn, clothing and art tend to be a reflection of what’s going on in our society and for 2016, that’s escapism and simplicity. For some this might mean a bohemian fantasy, while others may rely on a patriotic sentiment. The uncertain times we’re living in make us either yearn for beautiful imagery or strip to the bare essentials. This is why according to Pantone, the spring and summer months of 2016 bring us a palette of colours that invite us to “breathe and reflect” while minimalism also makes its ways to our drawers as we want to untangle our lives.

So, what are the t-shirt trends for 2016?

Bright Blocks: Colours to make your t-shirts stand out

Led by Buttercup Yellow (please, don’t make me read that out loud), the group of colours chosen by Pantone for the Spring/Summer 2016 season are mostly pastels (with the exception of Snorkel Blue) that are reminiscent of nature. 

The colours are the following:



Etro Source


Rose Quartz: One of the “colours of the year”, this soft shade of pink is associated with femininity, compassion and the healing powers of the stone it is named after.



John Galliano Source


Peach Echo: A member of the orange family, this hue is much friendlier, easy to wear and approachable. 


Alexander Wang Source


Serenity Blue: The other “colour of the year”, is a peaceful baby blue that’s reminiscent of the sky and clouds.


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Issey Miyake Men Source


Snorkel Blue: The “strong” one of the bunch, it’s a kind of similar to navy blue. Takes one back to nice holidays in the caribbean. 



Fendi Source


Buttecup Yellow: As any other member from the Yellow family, buttercup is happy, energised and optimistic.



Christian Siriano Source


Limpet Shell: Resting comfortably between the blues and the greens, this serene colour promises to bring freshness and tranquility to garments everywhere.



Celine Source


Lilac Grey: The dash of purple gives this otherwise bland hue an elegant aura.



Costume National Homme Source


Fiesta Red: Another stand-out from this relaxing palette, the Fiesta Red is an invitation to celebrate.



Burberry Source


Iced Coffee: A great neutral that offers a “rest” among the more vibrant shades in this palette.



Iceberg Source


Green Flash: Named after the phenomenon that occurs at sunset, when the sun briefly changes colour, green flash is a vibrant colour that transports us to a tropical island.



J.Crew Source


When it comes to garments these shades will be featured in a variety of techniques and one of them is Colour Block. The ongoing trend from 2015 will continue in 2016 and for most of us, this is good news. Colour block tees can be very flattering, when done well. It can make a man’s chest look wider or a woman’s waist look slimmer. But when done badly (if the two colours meet at the stomach, for example) it can make you look bigger. I haven’t conducted a study, but I guess (and this is just me here) that most people don’t want their belly to look bigger. If it can make someone like Tom Daley look fat, then I tremble at the thought of what it might do to the rest of us mortals.



Balmain Source


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Shapes: They’re all about performance

Garments will all be about comfort and performance, without sacrificing style, of course. This means that muscle t-shirts and stretchy fabrics are out, but that doesn’t mean that long and oversized tees are still in, either. They’ll be worn, but not as much as they were in 2015. Remember it is all about function and for that you need to find the right fit. Glam Sport was a huge trend last year and will carry on into 2016. As with sneakers that are designed to look good while at work and while at play, t-shirts are also conceived with that purpose in mind. The idea is for people to feel free, relaxed and able to (even if they never intend to) jump into a run whenever they want.   

As for embellishments, the t-shirt with the front pocket in a different pattern or colour will still be around for men. And when it comes to women, some brands may get creative with cut outs, specially to show off the shoulders which are the new midriff. By the way, crop top fans, there is nothing to worry about because they’re not going anywhere.


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Hermes Source


Versatile and Sustainable: Fabrics for the Future

Versatility is the name of the game here, as fabrics this year are to be worn during the day, but also during the evening. A versatile t-shirt for 2016 is a garment that can be worn at the office, but can translate into a night out with friends and maybe even to a day out hiking. Another important aspect that consumers are looking for nowadays is sustainability. A t-shirt made out of a living biodesign may be closer than you think.



Costume National Homme Source


Forget about sex, nostalgia sells

This year the 90’s nostalgia will continue, this time sprinkled with a little bit of 70’s flare. Think of bold types with funky colours, aged prints and maybe even (to the joy/horror of some) dyed t-shirts! Boho-chic will be the look for spring/summer 2016. This means neutral coloured t-shirts paired with maxi skirts, big round sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats. Oh, and fringes. Don’t forget about the fringes! Men would do well with pale jeans, colourful printed scarfs and a pair of leather sandals.



Yohji Yamamoto Source


The Radical Minimalist

“Less is more,” someone said – at some point. It might have been Coco Chanel, or Angela Merkel when speaking to the Prime Minister of Greece, but either way it has never been more spot on. The Minimalist trend started last summer and will continue on the next one. The term commonly refers to anything that  has been stripped to its essentials, “back to basics” some might say. In fashion this refers to basic shapes and neutral colours. No embellishments, no decorations, no crazy patterns, no dangly elements.

Uncle Sam, Darth Vader and stripes! Oh my! 


Love Moschino Source


As for prints in 2016, there will be a bit for everyone. Some brands will dip into the “vintage americana” look, which features North American symbols such as the eagle and the United States flag in a vintage light. This trend will only get stronger as the US Presidential elections draw in.



 Salvatore Ferragamo Source


Others will go for a more contemporary art look, taking a inspiration from cubist and abstract movements.


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ASOS Source


While other labels, thanks to the humongous success of the latest Star Wars movie, will stick to the characters of the popular franchise. The trend will only get stronger when Rogue One: A Star Wars Story premieres – and brace yourselves because there will be a Star Wars movie released each year from now till 2020. Those are a shit ton of Darth Vader t-shirts.



Saint Laurent Source


House of Holland Source

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Issey Miyake Men Source


Dries Van Noten Source

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Dsquared Source

Other prints we’ll see this season are: Hawaiian, Under the Sea, florals (for both men and women), stripes (of all kinds), and psychedelic.

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Harald is one of the founders of the Printsome-Insights blog! Previously, Senior Content Writer, with over five years experience writing about garment printing, he's now been whisked away into entertaining other audiences with his fabulous words. For over seven years he has been proofreading, blogging, copywriting newsletters/landing pages/social media + editing. Whilst also bringing Printsome brand to life with voice and soul. He is also well-versed in enforcing content styles and content strategies for B2B businesses.

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