Future of Fashion, How we make a Sustainable World.


With so much of the world in flux right now over covid, it is easy to forget the big changes going on in the fashion industry and throughout the world of sustainability before all this. While seeing animals get more room to live and the air becoming clearer has been wonderful and inspiring, we still need to remember the direction we need to go or else we end up right back where we started. So let's look at the future of fashion and see how trends and ideas are moving in the right direction, so long as we continue to vote with our dollar, our voices, and our passion for the planet.

Everyone gets a little better

The first thing to discuss about the future of fashion is that even the brands that aren’t considered sustainable are moving towards sustainability. As sustainable fashion becomes more popular overall, sustainable sourcing and materials are becoming a selling point. Now sure, there will always be some amount of “greenwashing” involved, but we can’t deny that fabrics like organic cotton are skyrocketing in all sectors, similarly to how vegan and vegetarian meat replacements are catching on in restaurants everywhere. Two other big trends are CO2 reductions and waste reduction. Between tightening CO2 standards for most of the world, countries like France instituting groundbreaking legislation on curbing fashion industry waste, and a growing sense of anger at the massive amount of waste the fashion industry creates, industries all over the world are looking into ways to reduce their CO2 emissions and find little ways to add recycling programs or be less wasteful in their production.

The Big Picture is Small

That all said, the big picture for the future of fashion is that it is going to be in the hands of small and medium sized businesses. While the huge scaling systems of larger fashion brands mean even a relatively minor change can have a massive impact, much of the work of sustainable fashion is being done by smaller companies. A big reason for this is that these companies tend to have much nimbler supply structures, and so they can jump from one eco-friendly idea to another quickly, be very close on the ground to make sure workers' needs are met, and have room to experiment with exciting new ideas. The other big idea is that all manufacturing is getting smaller so to speak. With the advent of 3D printing and other technologies that put a large amount of manufacturing power into small spaces, small companies can afford to customize designs, test out eco-friendly materials, and explore niche markets, allowing a level of personalization and uniqueness that larger companies simply can’t compete with. This also reduces the need for having a bunch of “pre-built” merchandise in a storeroom somewhere eating away at profits, which means there’s a real incentive not to overproduce.

Own it, or Don’t

The next big idea is the rental fashion market. Now this idea is just starting to catch on, with companies like Rent the Runway getting, but the possibility of rental and sharing structures are just starting to be understood and appreciated. With rental fashion, an item of clothing is now incentivised to last, as the company that owns the rental system will want to rent it out as many times as possible. So a large rental fashion market actively incentivises producers away from producing a lot of cheap clothing. Instead they'll want to start making higher quality pieces if they want their product to appear on these rental markets. Furthermore, rental fashion incentivises care and material repair for both the customer and the rental market. This helps extend the life of the piece even longer. All in all, rental fashion leads to a feedback loop away from disposability culture and into higher quality products.

Forget Designer, think Design

Finally, innovations in design towards sustainability are starting to lead to exciting new concepts. When people initially think of sustainably made clothing, they tend to look at whether or not there is an organic process behind the material and what the materials are. This, while good, is not a complete picture of what is happening in the sustainable world, as brand new ways of being sustainable are being developed. One idea is modal fashion, which is fashion where the individual parts of a piece are designed to be easily pulled apart and pieced together again so that a shoe with a hole in the sole can just replace the sole. Another idea is subscription services based off of completely closed-loop production, where you return an item once worn down, send a new product, and the old product is shredded and rebuilt into a new product for another customer. Innovation doesn’t happen in a moment, it happens in a process, and the more we move towards sustainability the more new possibilities for a sustainable world are created, until eventually our ideas and possibilities have evolved entirely.

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