I don’t know about you but I feel excited and inspired right now by what fashion could and in some cases should look like next. This amazing, exciting, colourful, sometimes questionable, inspiring and fabulous industry is facing a brave new fashion world!
It’s been a tough time for so many businesses and sectors since the pandemic began, and it will take time, for those that do survive, to recover. The fashion industry was on its way to a cross-roads before things changed in March 2020, but what’s happened since has propelled those changes even further and faster forward, which hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing. The cross-roads are now front and centre, and where we turn next is crucial.
We’ve all had to take stock, take a step back and re-think how we live, consume, interact, dress and contribute. As we emerge slowly and cautiously out of what we hope has been the worst of the pandemic, some things may return as before and others will never be the same again.
Technology has of course become even more important to our daily lives as we’ve embraced Zoom, MS Teams, remote working and remote connecting, but how much will tech really change fashion in the future?
Recent developments across the entire industry provide clues to what will impact and drive forward the future of fashion.
- The carbon footprint of the industry and fashion’s impact on the planet
- Clothing waste and the increase in the size of our wardrobes and the amount that gets discarded
- Unsustainable and amoral practices of using cheap labour in unsafe working conditions to create fast fashion
- Demanding consumers looking for clothing that is comfortable and also offers potential health and wellbeing benefits
- Increased numbers of us looking for comfort for day-to-day wear
- More of us working from home
- Millennials and Gen Z looking for experiences over owning things
- Communities created through shared interests at a local level – even the big brands are creating experiential brand engagement opportunities where purchasing happens primarily online but the brand gets to know and influence customers in a more engaging way
- Companies like denim jeans brand Unspun and footwear brand Alohas focusing on manufacturing on-demand items, increasing accuracy and fit and reducing the need for multiple versions of items and waste (more on this soon!)
In addition to on-demand and bespoke fashion, one of the other exciting developments is digital clothing and the idea that we can ‘buy’ new looks for our online versions of ourselves, without the need to purchase physical garments.
It will be interesting to see if the separation of clothing and fashion will become a reality and if fashion will eventually be divorced from physical clothing completely. Can a need for constant fashion newness be satisfied with garments that don’t ever physically exist?
Brands like Dress X that offer truly digital fashion are trailblazing the way – “There is a significant demand for fashion consumption for the sole purpose of digital content creation, meaning that purchasing and physical ownership for these consumers is at least partially redundant.” (much more on this exciting new platform coming soon!)
Star Trek or even Star Wars once depicted a future with humans wearing simple and practical uniforms with little reference to personality or individuality. This was suggestive perhaps, of human intelligence in the future, being elevated away from unnecessary adornment and frivolity but instead focused on survival, enlightenment, wellness and wellbeing.
If you took a look at the fashion industry as recently as early 2020 you could be forgiven for thinking that this supposedly utopian approach to dress would never be reached as we are all still striving to be seen as individuals, expressing ourselves through dress and a need to constantly show something new or on trend.
But were the beginnings of a more practical uniform style of dress already appearing pre pandemic and what really is most important when it comes to fashion and dress? Can we finally separate fashion from clothing and can fashion ever be perceived as art, even if just through digital incarnations?
We need less and need to produce less and yet fashion and individuality remain important to humans and being able to express ourselves. So how do we reconcile these human characteristics whilst still reducing our impact on the environment?
As digital platforms such as The Fabricant and Dress X offer us new ways to see and engage with fashion, will true and aspirational fashion design be reserved for an online environment and our digital selves, while clothing will simply be about keeping us warm, protected, healthy and modest?
What will our relationship with clothing and fashion look like in future? How will we relate and respond to digital luxury fashion and the pricing and valuation of materials and textiles. Does digital democratise luxury or will it just transfer to online communities in the same way? Second hand clothing has become big business for charities and individual sellers, how will this impact the value we place perhaps on ‘vintage’ and perceived vintage items also?
There are so many questions and so many cool and interesting approaches and ideas being explored that address a lot of the challenges for the fashion industry. I can’t wait to discover and share with you some of the really interesting brands and solutions on the horizon of this brave new fashion world!