The future of fashion is being transformed by technology. Just consider the potential of big data that pin points trends, to 3D printing that creates new structural designs, and wearable tech that enhances the functionality of clothing. Look at how runways are turned into multimedia, participative experiences whilst shopping malls, both physical and digital that are intelligent and personalised. Fashion brands are about more than products, they are about the audience. Enabling people to achieve more, functionally or aesthetically, and bringing people together, in communities with shared interests, or shared expression.
Smart and luxury, local and global
The global market for clothing, accessories and luxury goods is worth almost $3 trillion and continues to grow even in difficult times, partly driven by youthful aspiration and a relentless thirst for luxury goods in emerging markets. A connected world becomes a melting pot of cultural influences, at the same time polarising into more fragmented niches.
Advanced materials and manufacturing processes enhance both function and form, whilst sustainability rises in importance, the social and environmental impact of sourcing and manufacturing. The cross-pollination of ideas sparks new trends – from the recreation of ancient designs into modern pieces, like Gilan jewellery and Shanghai Tang clothing, or the leopard-skin print of Puma running shoes.
Some of the most significant trends in fashion design include
- Slow and thoughtful – from our outrage at sweatshops to preference for sustainable materials, supporting local brands, reducing carbon, adapting and swapping, hand-made and vintage.
- Fast and efficient – from “ready-baked” catwalk designs to low priced imitations, ranges that change weekly and clothes that are seen as disposable, a thirst for shopping, for fads and hyper-cool fashions.
- Smart and intelligent – from nano-tech and ultra-light to spray on and biodegradable, clothing does more, as do the body scanners and 3d printers that customise it to perfection.
At the same time, fashion brands are about more than the products. Brands achieve relevance through more niche focus, and then by enabling people to do what the products enable them to do. Ashmei is about runners who love the freedom of outdoors, and wants to share that love with them. Desigual is a love of vibrant culture, challenging our senses and normalities. Gucci is about statement, stylish and sophisticated, for those who feel the need to state it.
Rapha, the British-made brand of luxury cycling gear is a great example of the changing nature of fashion. At the heart of the brand is not Lycra or Goretex, but coffee and croissant. Rapha “Cycle Club” cafes, also known as shops, replicate the nostalgic cafes along the route of the Tour de France where enthusiasts share tales of past glories and personal experiences, talking bikes and repairs, horrific accidents and crowning glories, and being the very best gear too.
Meet the Gamechangers in Futurefashion
1Atelier – Personalisation becomes the new luxury
1Atelier is reinventing bespoke luxury accessories for the 21st century, helping consumers to create exquisitely handcrafted handbags, and more.
Agua Bendita – Handmade swimwear from the colourful scraps of Colombia
Agua Bendita makes super-luxury handmade bikinis, inspired by their Colombian roots: gorgeous, sophisticated, and alive with colour and innovative fabrics. Catalina Álvarez and Mariana Hinestroza founded the brand whilst studying fashion, inspired by the scraps of brightly coloured fabrics discarded by Catalina's father's clothing factory. Nearly a decade later, their suits are seen in stores around the world and on celebrities on the beaches of the world. What makes them particularly special are the contributions of Colombian artisans, 700 single mothers with a passion for making beautiful clothes.
Ashmei – Sportswear without compromise
Focusing on designing the very best apparel for serious runners and triathletes, Ashmei refuses to compromise. Combining the best fabric and production from around the globe, focusing on niche audiences who are prepared to pay more for their passion, outplays the mainstream brands.
Brunello Cucinelli – Cashmere from the village of Solomeo
“During my lifetime I have always nurtured a dream: useful work to achieve an important goal. I have always felt that business profit alone was not enough to fulfil my dream and a higher purpose was to be found”.
Diesel – The brand for successful living
Renzo Rosso sees his work as an art and not a science, the company has redefined how a brand sees and communicates with its customers since 1978.
EcoAlf – Innovative upcycled fashion from Madrid
EcoAlf was created by Javier Goyeneche in 2012 to realise innovation in recycled clothing. The idea for a truly sustainable brand was born from a deep frustration with the excessive use of the world’s natural resources and the amount of waste produced by industrialised countries - specifically by the fashion industry. But Ecoalf is more than a conscious clothing brand; it is a mission to create the first generation of recycled products with the same attention to quality, design and technical properties as the best non-recycled products in the market.
Glossier – Beauty brand for the Instagram generation
"Women today have different needs than we have had in the past, but beauty companies haven't necessarily been the most reactive to that," says Emily Weiss who launched the skincare and cosmetics brand in 2014. "We wanted to create a very democratic movement, and the channels most fitting that goal were direct, digital ones."
Heist Studios – Rethinking what we wear
Heist believes that underwear can be an instrument of progress. While many industries understand today's world’s desire for autonomy, choice and freedom, women’s underwear has lagged behind. Effectively, all women are living in underwear inadequate to their time.
Hysteric Glamour – Japanese fashion, inspired by pop and porn
Hysteric Glamour is a Japanese clothing brand created by Nobu Kitamura.
Isamaya Ffrench – The London Beauty Alchemist
Seamlessly shifting between beauty and art, Isamaya Ffrench is a self-taught and tech-savvy innovator who is redefining the boundaries of make-up
MeUndies – Making undies your butt will be proud to wear
MeUndies is a lifestyle brand that is transforming the way people perceive and purchase their basics. As a vertically integrated, direct-to-consumer company we do it all: from design and manufacturing, to marketing and web design & development, to fulfillment and shipping, MeUndies delivers "The World's Most Comfortable Basics" with a relentless emphasis on quality and service.
Rapha – More than clothing, more than a store, more than a sport
Cycling is a sport of connisseurs. They love their coffee, in France they love their pastis, and they love their bikes and gear. Riding in the heart of a Sunday morning pelaton is as much social as physical, and so Rapha designed to create premium cycling gear, and coffee shops – or Cycle Clubs – where enthusiasts can meet.
RewardStyle – Helping social influencers make money
In the last five years, rewardStyle has fueled the arrival of a new influence on the retail industry: professional content creators. By providing the technical tools and education necessary to empower a global army of 9,000 premium content creators, it is now making a tangible impact on global e-commerce sales. In 2015, their publishers drove over $475 million in retail sales. It has redirected the style publishing industry and contributed to the professionalization and financial independence of thousands of publishers worldwide, enabling them to earn meaningful revenue on their digital content, ultimately empowering them to create and grow small businesses into international brands. Today, it is a global business. Nearly 200 team members work from offices in Dallas, San Francisco, New York, Shanghai and London.
Threadless – The crowdsourced t-shirt community
Threadless was one of the first crowdsourced brands, recognising the power and passion of user-generated designs. Voting and limited availability keeps people coming back to the site, from which a vibrant community has developed, engaging people physically and online.
Toms – A pair for kids with every pair you buy
Toms is a brand with purpose, and a dual business model – inspired by the simple canvas shoes of Argentina – it gives away a free pair away to street kids for every pair it sells. “One to One” has become a worldwide movement, and now stretches beyond shoes.
Triangl – Melbourne to Millennials, all thanks to Instagram
Vibrant, color-saturated bikinis are popping up on beaches everywhere this summer. The perpetrator: a budding swimsuit company with Australian roots called Triangl.
Under Armour – Outperforming Nike at the Rio Olympics
It started with a simple plan to make a superior T-shirt. A shirt that provided compression and wicked perspiration off your skin rather than absorb it. A shirt that worked with your body to regulate temperature and enhance performance.
Vinaya – The millennial entrepreneur who thinks human first, tech second
Kate Unsworth's favourite words are banana and martini. She is a maths grad and part-time model, who has embraced a millennial mindset for business, and also a love of technologies that are thoughtful, human and fashionable.
Warby Parker – Designer eyewear at revolutionary price
"Every idea starts with a problem. Ours was simple: glasses are too expensive. We were students when one of us lost his glasses on a backpacking trip. The cost of replacing them was so high that he spent the first semester of grad school without them, squinting and complaining. (We don’t recommend this.) The rest of us had similar experiences, and we were amazed at how hard it was to find a pair of great frames that didn’t leave our wallets bare. Where were the options?"
Zuvaa – The global marketplace for African-inspired fashion
Zuvaa launched in 2014 as an online destination of African Inspired fashion and accessories.Kelechi Anyadiegwu started the fashion business to fill a void which she saw in the African Fashion Industry, a place for affordable, ethically made, African-inspired pieces.