Fashion’s Future Transcends Trends and “Fast Fashion”
Why Sustainable, Ethical Fashion Will be the New Normal
February brings Fashion Week to New York City and the buzz is all about sustainable, ethical fashion brands. The 2019 Global Wellness Summit pegged “Well Fashion-Way Beyond Architecture” as one of its top wellness trends.
Each year, the Global Wellness Summit (GWS) identifies new trends that will have a meaningful impact on the $4.2 trillion wellness industry. Wellness Fashion ranks as the number one trend among eight and its trajectory is detailed in an in-depth research report.
This emerging self-awareness in the fashion industry transcends trends and fast fashion for smarter, sustainable materials and production methods.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) in its effort to make sustainable fashion the new normal, released its Guide to Sustainable Strategies. In its opening remarks in the document, CFDA notes, “As American fashion continues its journey to a more sustainable future, transformative innovation of materials, processes and systems is about more than mindfulness, it is a change imperative.”
The CFDA’s expanded Sustainability Initiatives in 2019 acknowledge that the fashion industry is not currently sustainable. “We are using up natural resources and exploiting people in ways that will deplete future generations of the resources they need, impacting future profitability and business opportunities. We have the power to change the way fashion is made and consumed by creating a sustainable industry with greater influence and increased profit.”
This intersection between wellness and fashion is re-engineering the fashion cycle—one where fast fashion and trend cycles no longer dictate what we wear. Consumers are embracing conscious design, responsible sourcing, and safer, ethical, more efficient value chains.
This new mindset in fashion rethinks every step in the manufacturing process. Here’s a look at the new wellness cycle of fashion, according to the Global Wellness Institute.
Designing, producing and buying clothing becomes smarter and more sustainable with the use of artificial intelligence and 3D design technologies. Designing and making clothing enters the on-demand, digitally designed dimension to produce custom-created fashion. The end goal is to eliminate the “spray and pray overproduction” of clothing. ZOZO is one innovator of on-demand custom clothing using sensors to capture a person’s measurements in 3D.
The company sends each customer a free ZOZOSUIT interwoven with 300 sensors that capture in 3D exact measurements. Customers then order custom-tailored clothing using a smartphone app including sweaters, shirts, tees and jeans in natural fibers.
Consumers want to feel good about the way their clothing is made. They’re asking questions: Are the workers paid fair wages? What are the working conditions? Are the materials sustainably sourced? Fashion and ethics are inextricably linked. Brands that are transparent and can convey a strong moral and ethical conscience with their clothing will garner consumer loyalty. The production of fashion isn’t just about being eco-friendly, it’s about having a socially responsible mission. Also, expect to see a revival in local makers and craft with clothing that highlights heritage and culture.
The signifier of high-end clothing is the meaning threaded through its design and construction. Clothing with a conscience becomes the status symbol as labels embrace the eco and ethical impacts of what they produce. Consumers look to do their part lowering their environmental footprint in fashion by renting clothing, buying local, acquiring quality pieces that are timeless rather than trendy and choosing sustainable, ethical fashion.
The consumer closet is filling up with smarter clothing thanks to the rise of bio-tracking and fitness wearable tech interwoven into garments. Expect to see more self-regulating materials that adapt to cold, heat, UV rays. Some fabrics can kill bacteria, control air flow, moisturize skin or even broadcast your mood.
The cleaning and care of clothing become more sustainable with self-cleaning clothes and nonpolluting organic detergents and new washing technologies.
Reuse and Recycle:
Expect the rise of “Trashion” clothing fabricated from recycled garbage and clothing crafted from organic material including algae and mushrooms to replace man-made, petroleum-based fabrics, such as nylon, polyester and acrylic. These environmentally destructive materials will wane in use as more designers opt for natural fibers that are sustainably sourced. Silk, linen, organic cotton, wool, flax, hemp and alpaca, and semisynthetic and cellulosic fibers, such as modal, rayon, Tencel, lyocell and cupro are kinder to the earth and decompose much easier than petroleum-based fabrics.
Meanwhile, vintage clothing gains popularity as consumers seek to reuse and recycle fashion. This new upcycling mentality combats the previous “buy and trash culture,” that has dominated fashion for decades. Innovative brands are doing their part to reduce waste and promote reuse through take-back programs and discounts for returning used clothes. Expect to see more innovative uses for recycled clothing such as building insulation.
Wellness and fashion go way beyond the ubiquitous trend of Athleisure, workout clothing as day wear with a subtext of exercise and fitness. Today’s consumer is willing to trade in the temporary thrill of purchasing, cheap, fast fashion for more conscientious choices that are good for humanity and the earth.
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