Shirts fall in the category of formal, casual and occasional wear. There is further sub segmentation on the basis of pricing and buyer's profile in the metros and non-metros. The shirt industry is offering high quality fabrics in diverse designs and blends as per latest fashion trends. Shirting fabrics play an extremely important role in a readymade shirt. Fabric type is one of the important factors as the functional criteria during formation into a ready made garment. Shirt fabrics also play important criteria for selection and buying decisions. The performance of the fabric does not necessarily predict the performance of the shirt but the two are strongly related as the right fabric is required for shirt to meet aesthetic and functional performance expectations. Standards for fabric for shirts are based on factors such as design, fashion trends, consumer's preferences, price and market profile. Fabrics provide men with the right choice of fabric that suits their lifestyle. Besides colour and patterns, the fabrics also provide dress shirts with varying textures and give the men, literally, a different feel for each fabric. Men while making purchases; base their decisions on design as well as fabric. It is important for manufacturers, retailers and consumers to know emerging trends in fabrics for men shirts as men can try different dress shirts fabrics to create variation within their wardrobe. Also it is the task of textile technologist and designers to know in detail about the emerging raw materials of readymade shirts in order to help the common people to access the quality parameters of the garment before selection.
There is steady growth in the international men's wear industry. This is witnessed in last few years as men are becoming more fashion conscious.
Keywords: Shirts, readymade garments, mod a woven, ahimsa silk
1. Importance of shirts
Wonders can be achieved for a man through men's dress shirt as it is one of the most important parts of a man's wardrobe. Appropriateness for the occasion-leisure, work or business helps in selection of shirt style, and with a good fit, right colours and patterns it can definitely flatter the man's built and frame. Further a shirt can rejuvenate any of dull coloured suits. Every shirt can be different in terms of detailing of the fabric, pattern, collar, buttons, placket, and cuffs. Therefore shirts need not be homogenous and monotonous in shape, style, and design. A same shirt worn by two men will bring about a different feel and style because of the difference in the men's body frame, personality, as well as the combination with other apparels like suits. Self confidence and comfort are increased when a man shirt is clean, neat, fresh, and well fitted.
It is important for men to update their choice of shirts according to emerging fashion trends as a shirt can reveal a lot about a man's attitude and status especially in the corporate world. Knowing about detailing will empower men to make the right decision when buying shirts.
2. Emerging trends in shirt industry
- According to the changing fashions in the men's garment industry, manufacturers have to adjust their production cycles as per these fashion oriented changes.
- Ready made garments have almost phased out the custom tailored garments which were earlier used by men.
- Now a days garment represents a status symbol and also makes a fashion statement, therefore importance is given on quality of fabrics, cuts and design.
- Large international players are emerging with standardized garments in numerous designs and styles.
- A lot of importance is being given on comfort of the finished garment.
- Working atmosphere is changing as companies are allowing men to wear semi formals and casuals at workplace. This has resulted in change of focus of manufacturers as they are also shifting production from formal wear to casual wear.
- Many countries are opening giant retail stores and selling quality and branded men's garments through them.
- By focusing on current fashion trends in the men's apparel industry, there are opportunities for manufacturers to increase exports.
- To increase efficiency and manufacture high quality garments, manufacturers are using sophisticated machinery.
3. Categories of shirts and trends in fabrics and structures
The shirt industry is offering high quality fabrics in diverse designs and blends as per latest fashion trends. Fabric determines the comfort and care of shirt. Fabric that is smooth in texture, absorbent, and can be laundered easily will contribute to comfort during wear. There is direct relationship between fabric cost and count, fineness of yarn and fabric design. Cotton is king! It rules in fabrics. Manufacturers are providing a mix of products for shirts in blends of polyester, cotton, tencel, viscose etc and in variety of weaves Le plain, twill, satin and other dobbies. Also are available tecno-natural ranges that cover all blended fabrics which are blends of cotton with manmade fibers. 
Consumers in India are yet to get an experience of wearing shirts made from high performance fibers. Consumers are becoming fashion conscious and expect desirable, fashionable styles in shirts. Emerging trends indicate that consumers ask for quality and high performance fabrics and innovative design features. New apparel lines are being launched with such fabrics as Revival, Holofiber, Spectra Lite and Spectrum. Each of these fabrics is offering consumers quality and high performance. The hot item in the shirt industry are in a new bright colour palette and unique designs, where consumers are offered highest performance and breath ability along with a stylish presence through each fabric-type. A super comfortable range of wovens and knits in various blends are in trend. In vogue for extra comfort and stretch into men's shirt, is a luxuriously soft cotton jersey, with a touch of spandex. Also in trend, is a new kind of natural fabric (moda woven) which combines the benefits of natural fiber and the fantastically soft feel of modern microforms. It is made from beechwood chips. The fabric remains soft and lustrous after several washes and has hydroscopicity of cotton and the luster of silk. New trends focus on radiant sun shirts, which provide 40+ UPF sun protections through the dense weave and synthetic fiber. They are lightweight, quick drying and extremely versatile.[l] Special fiber like tencel with similar properties to cotton provides consumers feel properties which cotton cannot provide. The breath ability of tencel fiber is also better than cotton.
Shirts fall in the category of formal, casual and occasional wear. There is further sub segmentation on the basis of pricing and buyers profile in the metros and non-metros.
3.1 Formal shirts
Formal shirts for men are sub segmented into two categories, namely (a) premium shirts and (b) popular shirts.
(a) Premium Formal shirts
Cotton rules! For premium formal shirts, 85-90% of fabrics used are cotton. Linen is promising fiber offering much higher level of comfort than cotton. It is gaining popularity in fashion even beyond summers. Quality shirts are made by 2 ply yarns of fine counts which ranges from 2 x 80s to as fine as 2 x 140s yarns made fabrics. Most of the fabrics used in premium formal shirts are made in India. There is varied percentage of usage of imported versus Indian fabrics by different brands in these shirts. 100 percent cotton or high percentage of cotton blended with polyester is used for by and large in premium brands only or mid segment brands done as premium products.
The trend is for value added cottons with structures and dobby's in weaves. 80% of share in design fabrics is taken up by stripes with balance mainly in checks. There is negligible share of prints in premium formal shirts. Solid share is almost 40% and in solid, structure fabrics have a substantial usage for this category of shirts. 
The trend in design that is visible in India and internationally in 100% cotton is more towards stripes whether it is casual or formal. The formal range in cotton also carries micro checks and structures.
(b) Popular Formal shirts
Innovative fabrics are being used by brands to create product differentiation and also to add value addition to their product. Because of comfort factor, 100% cotton is usually favored in these shirts. Blends that are in trends for ready made shirts are poly viscose and poly cotton. Last 2-3 years has seen emerging trend in use of poly cotton against poly viscose which was the only blend available in synthetics. There is rise in use of polyester/cotton blends and CVC and silks, mock linen, linen look in polyester cotton fabrics, instead of linen or linen blends by various brands of formal popular shirts. For work shirts fabrics used are poplin,
chambray, twill, denim and drill cloth, in fibers of cotton, nylon, acrylic and polyester as these shirts need durability. In the international scene it is blended in the mid segment or lower range, and cotton in the premium category. For premium segment of shirts the fabric is 100 percent cotton whereas for popular segments are mostly blended. There are varied fashion trends in cotton/cotton blends/polyester fabrics in India and abroad.
Men's formal popular shirts are becoming younger, fresh and are emerging with a strong element of fashion. Colours are becoming younger, brighter and fresher. The colour palette has a wide choice with beige, chrome, blue, fuchsia, brown and so on. The design includes checks, micro checks, plains and stripes. Blended fabrics in structure/dobbies for popular range for solid shirts are increasingly being used. More of checks rather than stripes designs are seen in trend in the synthetics segment particularly in PV or PC ranges. This is because there is wider scope in terms of style and designs in checks than in stripes.
3.2 Casual shirts
Last few years have witnessed radical changes in casual shirts. Segmentation is one of the changes which have made the casual shirt no longer a shirt but a style statement. 80-85% casual's shirts are made of cotton. Poplins and tussar in solid designs in yarn dyed cottons are in trends. Other fashion fabrics in trends for casual shirts are polyester, viscose and their blends and specialty fibers like lycra, modal, tencel, lyocel, polynosic etc. Linen is other favorite fabric for casuals but restricted only due to higher costs.
Casuals are quite versatile hence in bold and bright colours and a variety in weaves dominates casual shirts. To make casual wear a style statement, other techniques being used are garment washing, applique detailing, and even ornamentation and embroidery. Different ratio between designs (check/stripes), solids and prints are used in this category of shirts.
3.3 Occasional shirts
Occasional shirts have to be in sync with the changed tastes and preferences of the consumers. The product range should meet varied aspirations of different age groups. Variation is noticed from brand to brand in current style trends for occasional shirts. There is wide range of fabrics used for occasional wear shirts. Fabric range depends on the brands and collection for the season. Variety of fabrics like cotton, polyester, polyester blends, polynosics, linen are used, but cotton still leads. Cotton blended with polyester and also polyester viscose is a great combination and will continue to dominate for occasion wear as they provide sheen in the fabric. Spun polyester is an excellent fabric for special events when a heavier look and durable fabric is preferred.
There is a lot of creativity in trends on surface, weave, structure and texture of the fabrics. Prints, solids, checks and stripes all are into trends but extent of usage is varying from brand to brand. In festive season, 100% polyester fabrics are increasingly used because of a lot more designing factors, jacquards and different kinds of weaves and value additions. The cottlive range which is launched recently is made out of polyester treated with eco friendly chemicals to impart a cotton feel and thus provide improved yarn strength, a very smooth structure and very low pilling. Floral, all over prints, cross stripes and washed shirts are extensively being used and are integral part of occasional shirts. There is a remarkable rise in trend of the products made of hosiery material. Shirts of hosiery material are in vogue in the market. Linen is the fabric for the Indians who are looking for comfort and doesn't mind the slightly crushed 100k.
4. Research findings of shirt fabrics
Apart from functional criteria's, fabric type plays an important role in a readymade garments formation as discussed in research done by Tarafder, on 'Comparative study on physical testing of readymade shirts for quality standards'. For his study 15 readymade shirts had been considered for investigation. All the shirts were type of polyester /cotton (80x20) .10 were of branded quality, 4 were non branded and one tailormade. Following findings were observed through the study:
- There was a wide variation observed in fabric specifications for a common variety of shirting fabric, like thread density, linear density, area density, crimp % etc.
- Average fabric crease recovery was observed to be fairly good but between items, variation was too high.
- Variations were found in both stiffness and bending modulus but the drape coefficient appeared to be good between items, except two items.
- Except for two items, abrasion loss was more or less within the permissible limit in terms of strength and weight.
- High pill resistance was shown by all the fabrics.
- Hydral shrinkage (%) for most of the items was quite satisfactory.
- There was wide variation of Range in air permeability property. 
The silk spun from mulberry pierced cocoons is referred as 'Ahimsa silk'. The silk is obtained without killing pupae and is widely accepted by Hindus and Jain royal families in India. To know influence of mechanical properties on serviceability of the Ahimsa silk shirting materials, a research was conducted by Sanapaparnma K.J. The findings suggested the coarser uneven Ahimsa silk yarn is most suitable for handloom sector and appropriately used as shot weft. To produce designer's shirtings, Ahimsa silk is compatible to weave with cotton, rayon, tricot and filature silk.[8, 12]
Shirting fabrics play an extremely important role in a readymade shirt. Fabric type is one of the important factors as the functional criteria during formation into a readymade garment. Shirt fabrics also play important criteria for selection and buying decisions. The performance of the fabric does not necessarily predict the performance of the shirt but the two are strongly related as the tight fabric is required for shirt to meet aesthetic and functional performance expectations. Standards for fabric for shirts are based on factors such as design, fashion trends, consumer's preferences, price and market profile. Fabrics provide men with the tight choice of fabric that suits their lifestyle. Besides colour and patterns, the fabrics also provide dress shirts with varying textures and give the men, literally, a different feel for each fabric. Men while making purchases; base their decisions on design as well as fabric. It is important for manufacturers, retailers and consumers to know emerging trends in fabrics for men shirts as men can try different dress shirts fabrics to create variation within their wardrobe. Also it is the task of textile technologist and designers to know in detail about the emerging raw materials of readymade shirts in order to help the common people to access the quality parameters of the garment before selection.
- www.Mendressshirt.com date: 15/08/07.
- www.Men'sClothing.com date: 15/08/07.
- DFU'S, "Desire Shirts", (2006), Publication by Inside Fashion, Volume 8, Number 1, pg 21, 62, 68, 90, no, 123, 138, 139.
- Brown and Rice, J. (1998), 'Ready to Wear Apparel Analysis', Prentice Hall, New Jersey, Second edition, pg 162.
- Apparel, the Clothier Digest, (Sept 2005), Watch Out, pg 60.
- Ruth and Grace, 1. (2000), 'Apparel Manufacturing: Sewn Product Analysis', Prentice Hall, New Jersey, Third edition, pg 629.
- Clothesline, (Nov -Dec 2005), Brand watch, pg-22.
- Clothesline, (July 2005), Brand watch- Domestic, pg-23.
- Apparel-the Clothier Digest, (Sept 2006), Cover Story, pg.94.
- Sadarangani, A.,(2007)'The art of looking good this summer', Sunday Times of India, Mumbai, pg 18.
- Clothesline, (June 2005), Indian Market, pg-23.
- Sanapapamma K.J, (2007), Journal of Textile Association, Jan-Feb:'2007, pg-215.
About the Authors
The authors are associated with the Department of Textiles and Fashion Technology College of Home Science, Nirmala Niketan, University of Mumbai
Originally published in Journal of the Textile Association, Vol. 69 No. 1, pg 32-36, May-June 2008 and again in Vol. 70 No. 2, pg 70-73 July-Aug 2009