Designing prints for guys means studying customers’ interests.

Elizabeth Suty has been the senior print designer for Hollister guys, a division of Abercrombie & Fitch, since 2013. Suty’s job is likely not an easy task as Hollister calls itself the brand that “celebrates the liberating spirit of the endless summer inside everyone.”

Nonetheless, her background in print design has been focused on A&F brands since graduating from Central Michigan University in 2007. Prior to her work in guys’ prints, she focused on the prints and patterns in the Gilly Hicks women’s underwear brand.

Suty’s passion for prints isn’t her only one, though. In 2012, she became part of A&F’s volunteer program to be a camp counselor at Flying Horse Farms. “The feeling I get from going to camp and knowing that I am making a difference, and to actually be able to witness that transformation happening in the campers, is the most fulfilling feeling,” she explains.

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Flying Horse Farms is part of the SeriousFun Children’s Network, an organization founded by Paul Newman that involves 30 camps and programs that provide free services to children with serious illnesses and their families. 

“I was honored to be accepted into the Global Partnership Program [last] summer where I traveled to Ethiopia to train the leadership team at camp there,” explains Suty. “I can’t say enough how much being involved with SeriousFun and Flying Horse Farms has changed my life just like they change the lives of children all over the world.”

How does a person get to be a print designer?
Most print designers attend art school, or major in textile design or apparel design in college. For me, when I started college, I wasn’t sure which part of the fashion industry I would be most interested in, so I double majored in apparel design and merchandising with a minor in art to keep my options open. Being inspired by pattern and color is a must because you’ll be looking at it all day long.

This sounds like a terrific job. I can’t imagine that you’ve ever been bored with your work, have you?
Bored? Never! There is nothing about the fashion industry that is boring. No two days look the same, and with the speed at which trends change, we are always designing new and interesting patterns. It’s exciting, and keeps you on your toes.

Seriously, what inspires you when it comes to creating new prints?
Besides the traditional forms of inspiration like runway shows, shopping trips, and more recently, influencers and celebrities, I like to look to the customer for inspiration. Knowing what music he likes, how he spends his free time, what cultural references he relates to, and what he values are inspiring to me and help me design patterns that will fit his lifestyle and interests.

How are prints evolving for men?
I’m seeing guys being more adventurous with their pattern choices. Statement tops and bottoms are much more prevalent in the market, and while a guy will always want his basic tees and staple button down shirts, there is a lot more playfulness in the clothing and patterns that he is choosing.

Do you see more gender fluidity with what men and women wear today?
Absolutely. More and more brands are designing collections that are gender neutral; for example, at Hollister, we have a collection called “In it. For Everyone.”

Are there any big changes that we can expect in the future when it comes to men’s fashion, given Gen Z’s debut in the job market?
I think the biggest focus will be on inclusivity and adaptability, as well as sustainability. The practice of responsible designing will also continue to grow, through eco-friendly fabrics, packaging, factory processes, recycling, etc.