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Elevated Basics Are Taking Over Retail, But What Are They?

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Elevated Basics Are Taking Over Retail, But What Are They?

pparel basics have and always will be in style for all men and women alike. We all know the characteristics of a basic when we see them - they are usually neutral in color, have simple silhouettes and are seemingly predictable.

But, as “workleisure” / ”athleisure” started becoming the norm in all facets of our lives, even in the workplace, it was time that our traditional closet staples leveled up. We aren’t wearing just the basic white t-shirt and black hoodie anymore. The classics have been reinvented, become more stylish and sophisticated, all while keeping us comfortable, yet fashion-forward.

Elevated basics are just that. Taking the simple styles we’re used to wearing all the time and elevating them a bit with a little something extra. It’s easy to pigeon-hole this concept into just thinking about the overall “look” of the product, but, I want you to also think about everything from its conception and construction to its wearability. Here are some easy criteria to look for when thinking of elevated basics:


They can be styled and worn in various ways — Think your favorite white tee being tied into a knot at the bottom. A simple knot or tie can completely transform all your oversize, too-long t-shirts and give them some shape and style. This is definitely something to keep in mind, if you're developing a lifestyle brand or selling to a retail shops. It's becoming a big enough trend that Boxercraft even added a style that's inspired by it.

Keeping an eye on this trend might help you when deciding whether or not to include more cropped styles vs regular t-shirts in your collection. T-shirts now offer more flexibility in how you can style them vs cropped styles, so customers might opt more for an elevated tee vs. buying a crop top and being boxed into one style.


They're made of high-quality and/or sustainable fabrications — allowing you longer-term use from season to season. This item not only looks and feels good, but also helps out the environment, which is something consumers thinking much more about these days. Something like a “super-soft” organic cotton t-shirt, a classic crewneck sweatshirt or a hoodie made with recycled polyester could fall under this category. Adidas and Alternative Apparel are two brands that are making major moves in sustainable fashion and elevating the basic closet staples to be more environmentally friendly. 


These styles will often come with a slight twist — making it fresh, on-trend and fashion-forward. Think your basic joggers with a fun tie-dye print, a t-shirt with a puff sleeve or a sweatshirt with quilted detailing. A garment’s “edginess” doesn’t just have to come from its styling alone.

Since the pandemic and our adoption of a more hybrid lifestyle, retail has amped up the promotion of elevated basics. If your inbox looks anything like mine, we're flooded with brands taking their basic apparel items up a notch, with a soaring demand for high-quality comfort pieces.

Independent Trading Co., J. America, Boxercraft, BELLA + CANVAS and Next Level are always on the forefront of fashion trends, so they've already started taking these basic silhouettes and transforming them into high-quality show-stoppers by adding elevated details.

For example, J. America added a leopard print colorway to spice up one of their core sweatshirt styles, Independent gave a unique tie-dye treatment to their sweatpants, and both BELLA + CANVAS and Next Level have given their cotton tees an added twist with curved hems.

(In Photo: The BELLA + CANVAS - Jersey Curved Hem Tee - 3003)

Elevated basics are becoming a statement all on their own. They check all the boxes you'd want everything in your closet to have: comfort, quality, and style. At their core, these designs are still your go-to basic building blocks for any look, but now they’ve been elevated and turned into items that will last—and look good—for years to come.

Sep 19, 2021