Fashion is cyclical. Trends come and go, and have throughout fashion’s history. Some things have stuck and become wardrobe or seasonal staples; others have been buried like powdered wigs with the rest of history. While the industry itself has changed and adapted to the times and environment around it, there are things yet to come in both fashion itself and in how the companies that populate the industry operate. Here are our top predictions for those.
Changes to Clothing Design Standards
Currently in fashion, customers seek to find clothes that are cut for their specific body types or accentuate their specific body shape. While people can shop to find clothes that are classified to fit a certain way like high waisted, wide cut, etc., there is currently no easy way or widely shared way to buy clothes made for specific body types. For example, a single top that can fit all shapes as well as all sizes from small to large. Future-focused designers will create pieces with a wider array of fit options to meet this desire head on.
Along the same lines, we predict instant popularity for clothing brands that deliver clothes that retain an overarching style, but come available in different fits (relaxed or second skin for example) depending on customer preference. This concept is already available in most jeans. Shifting this concept over to the rest of fashion, could result in tops under a single overarching style coming in widened sleeves, flared torso, or regular fit to make that piece available for even more customer body types and outfit combinations.
Another clothing design strategy for designers to consider is to create stylish clothes with optional, utilitarian design features. One example of this could be womenswear either with or without the notoriously tough to find pocket feature. Or, some brands may seek smarter, more strategic ways to make a specific clothing article more fashionable. An example best encapsulated in a post on Quora explains how fashion companies have tried pushing for skirts in men's fashion, but the rationale is fashion rather than utility. If a stronger sense of utility were placed on men’s skirts, then they might be more accepted than they have been with a limited, fashion-only focus.
Finally, with the introduction of new styles and ways of wearing clothes, future fashion will likely center more designers and influences from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Especially as the world moves to a more globalized and connected environment, more designers around the world have and will continue to catch the industry’s spotlight. Designers around the world will continue to adapt their tastes and designs to new or old concepts in order to create clothes that serve rising demands and introduce mainstream fashion buyers and shoppers to their personal, unique cultures.
Evolution in Fashion Industry Transparency and Social Responsibility
Many over the years have criticized the personality and character of the fashion industry as toxic or unjust. As the industry moves forward, consumers will continue to call for it to become more mindful of the environment and people and behave accountably.
That includes embracing fashions from diverse cultures in a way that appreciates rather than appropriates. The brands that do it best will be those that use globally inspired fashion not as a means to fulfilling a trend but as an extension to celebrating cultures and backgrounds from around the world. Many fashion companies have faced great backlash for crossing the line to cultural appropriation in order to fulfill trends and the consequences far outweighed the payout. A recent example is appropriation of Native American motifs in earrings/shirts/etc. designed by non-First Peoples designers.
Another component critical to increasing accountability in the fashion industry is increasing transparency. That’s because transparency incentivizes consumers to trust the products that they buy, as well as for investors to trust who they do business with. For the fashion industry specifically, companies should adopt more transparent sourcing and manufacturing practices so that consumers can know where their clothes came from and what costs or benefits were associated with those processes.
Heading into the future, fashion companies also need to honestly credit their designs’ origins. Several popular big apparel companies have been accused of stealing designs, concepts, and art from smaller designers and using them for their own benefit. It’s very easy to do when one company has a larger customer base and financing to rule out and silence any allegations, but it acts as a way to silence up and coming creators. Large fashion companies should instead seek to collaborate with these designers to create new products that unify their customer bases.
Going forward, there may be many more areas for the fashion industry to expand into that we cannot imagine at this time. Currently, however, the industry should hyper focus on adapting fashion items for all shapes and sizes to reach a larger consumer base, and to do so with greater accountability and social responsibility. The future of fashion should also explore how we can incorporate more technology into our clothes and the industry as a whole. But in the end, a positive future for the fashion industry depends on building one where all people can enjoy a sense of fashion that feels right to them.