All over the world, predictions on the future of what we wear have habitually focused on the next season. Originally manifested from the creative minds and watchful eyes of collective fashion designers and trend watchers and accompanied by a healthy dollop of guesswork; what we wear spawns from a lineage of innovative or inspired design, usually diluted and trickled down to the high street into wearable form. But, if we fast-forward into the next three decades one might be able to predict some more solidifying changes to the fashion industry as we know it, based on how our society is quickly developing and evolving. Some, we may even be catching a glimpse of now…
How technological advancements will change fashion
Prepare to launch into an ultra-modern world of futuristic fashion made up of, ‘Smart Clothes’, ‘E-Textiles’ and ‘Wearable Technology’, a realm where clothes change colour, shape-shift and adapt to your body’s temperature. It started with wearable gadgets such as the, ‘Apple Watch’ and ‘Google Glass’, but we can expect to see an ever-increasing number of technological advancements quite literally being woven into the threads of our clothes in years to come. Renowned denim supplier, Levi’s, have already begun pioneering this galactic shift by teaming forces with the Google giant to create the, ‘Smart Jacket’. Made up of an innovative conductive yarn made from thin metallic alloys and intertwined with the natural fibres found in Levi’s signature denim, this item will essentially become an extension of your smartphone. This tech-tastic jacket allows for touch and gesture sensitivity built into its sleeve, which is linked to a detachable smart tag connected to your technological devices. This will allow users to swipe and tap their arm to connect to a variety of apps and services on their phone such as music, maps and text messages; a product they claim to be of particular use to cyclists. Then there’s also notable, forward thinking clothing brand, ‘NADI X’ have also begun integrating built in sensors to their yoga leggings to help users move into a variety of different yoga poses, adopting the correct alignment.
So, where will technology go next? Well, in other techno-revolutionary news, researchers at the University of Central Florida are generating new colour-changing fabric they call, ‘ChroMorphous’, which can be controlled by an app on your phone. Yes, you read that correctly. Meanwhile, several researchers from across the US are currently working on clothes that can change their thermal properties to adapt to the environment and wearer’s body with the help of thermal conduction technology for optimum comfort. No longer reserved for the apparel of sports men and women, we can expect to see climate controlling garments breezing their way in to our office wear, potentially eliminating inter-office air conditioning wars for good!
How sociological and demographic evolution will change fashion
The historically steady yet now fast accelerating rise in LGBTQ awareness will encourage designers to bring an increasing amount of gender fluidity into the way we dress. With sex seen as biological but gender progressively seen as cultural, people will continue to shed the binary shackles and limitations of gender specific clothing.
High-end fashion designers such as Saint Laurent are already beginning to combine men and women’s wear on the runway and create gender-neutral collections, while John Lewis have abolished ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ labels on children’s clothes. Meanwhile, fast-fashion retail titans such as Zara and ASOS have also joined the bandwagon just this year to meet progressive demands of the masses by launching their own androgynous lines.
The notion of dressing beyond the binary will bleed into how demographic evolution is changing too, based on our aging population. Just as society evolves to loosen its reigns on conforming to gender specific clothing, it will simultaneously slacken the harness on the expectation of changing one’s personal style as you age too.
With society beginning to down-age: act younger, both physically and mentally, there will be more variety and vivacity worked into design and on offer for the over sixties. What’s more, according to the Retail Think Tank, ‘over the next ten years, two-thirds of all retail spending growth will come from those aged 55 and over.’ With seniors having an economic stake on the fashion industry, making way for expansion to their domain of garb will become enticingly lucrative to retail.
Despite the younger generations currently helping to influence and reshape the fashion industry in a multitude of ways, it will become increasingly apparent that it is impossible and somewhat futile to cater to one age demographic within a generation. Trends change, tastes shift, and people age but it will be up to the industry and those who exist within it to craft a future that is cognizant of striking a balance between an older consumer base and the younger voices who help catapult fashion forward.
How environmental awareness will change fashion
Sustainable fashion has been a trending topic for some time now with ethically sourced clothes and eco-friendly fabrics fast becoming regular features amongst global brands who are aware of the increasing environmental awareness of today’s consumer. Popular cultural movements such as the trend in veganism has even led to savvy retailers rebranding, ‘pleather’ (plastic leather), as ‘vegan leather’; a rather more desirable and more marketable name for essentially the same material, lapped up by today’s generation. But, how will environmentally friendly fashion evolve to be over the next 50 years?
The Australian, notes that, ‘by 2050 we might be growing our own leather pants. Not on cows mind you, but with your own personal bio-fabricator: a machine that grows fabrics from microbial cultures’. Mind. Blown. At present, our current wardrobes are dominated by cotton, a thirsty crop saturated in pesticides, and polyester, which is derived from petroleum. Over the next few decades, these culprits are set to become displaced by so-called, ‘wealth from waste’ fibres, including ‘banana sylk’ (made from the stems of banana plants) and fruit ‘leathers’, predicted to originate mostly from pineapple. The Spanish brand Piñatex has already brought the latter to market; a square metre of pineapple leather uses 480 waste pineapple leaves and is half the cost of traditional cow leather (and, its proponents claim, comes at a fraction of the environmental cost of raising livestock).
What’s more, old-school natural, organic materials, such as wool and cotton, will therefore become prized and precious fabrics, to be cared for, protected and handed down as heirlooms. A new appraisal of naturals will favour regenerative wool growing: keeping sustainable sized flocks of sheep and goats on grassland, it is claimed, helps to sequester carbon, restore watersheds and benefit wildlife habitats. In essence, your grandmother’s woolly cardigan will be prized like a Birkin bag.
So, beyond this, what’s next? Perhaps we’ll all have personal clothing allotments in our back gardens? Maybe we’ll own biometrically identifiable shoes? Will male politicians be wearing dresses? Could we possibly be able to scan our bodies and have entire outfits 3D printed in wearable fabric to our exact measurements in our own homes? Only the future can tell.