The following table outlines several emerging trends that, although not all directly related to fashion, could suggest possible alternative future(s) for a more sustainable industry. From open criticism of passive consumption, to the desire to live a more mindful, value-driven life, to the blurring of roles between creator and user, signals of a change in the status quo hint at what the new normal could become.
The signals are classified using STEEPV (Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental, Political, Values) Framework.
Celebrities Show Fatigue at Red Carpet Pageantry
Celebrities have become product placement clotheshorses for fashion designers and brands, but some are growing weary of the parade.
A-list' celebrities could drive a trend toward less ostentatious celebrity endorsements, preferring to be recognized for their accomplishments, not what they're wearing.
Community Spaces for Learning and Creativity Emerge to Fill the Need to Make
A growing interest in DIY and craft has led to the emergence of hands-on communal spaces for learning and self-production.
Lines are blurring between user and maker - will designer shift to a more facilitative role in creation and production?
Rise of Chinese Middle Class Means Rising Labour Prices for Clothing Production
As China's middle class grows, the supply of cheap labour in the world's largest exporter of clothing is expected to drop.
China could transition to production that requires more skilled, expensive labour, meaning fast fashion brands will have to pay more or look elsewhere. The end of an era for cheap clothing prices?
Haute Couture for the Masses
Haute Couture houses like Elsa Schiaparelli and Chanel have begun to release videos that document the painstaking process of making their garments, but also give a glimpse into the techniques used, perhaps signalling a more open attitude toward sharing information may be emerging in fashion. Other sites like The Cutting Class deconstruct designs to share the valuable techniques with a wider audience.
Unlike the hidden or opaque practices of fast fashion, these videos and blogs bring a sense of openness and accessibility to some of the most exclusive brands on earth.
In Norway, watching 'slow TV' programs that document real-time experiences like travel by boat have become surprisingly popular.
Potentially signalling a desire for more mindfulness in our everyday lives.
Millennials Forego Clothing for Starbucks
Fast fashion retailers like Forever 21 remain favourites among young shoppers, but a new survey has revealed they teens are now spending as much on food as they are on clothing (21%).
Does this trend suggest teens are beginning to choose experiences over material possessions - that is, buying lattes with friends rather than clothing at the mall?
Resale Goes Upscale
Cheaply made clothing flooding secondhand shops may be negatively affecting the resale market, but high end resale stores like Komehyo in Japan and Rewind in Toronto are popping up around the globe.
Suggest a shifting mindset toward the benefits of purchasing higher quality used clothing? Conversely, this could lead to a faster cycling of goods, though less would be needed within the cycle.
Consumption Fasts as a Quietly Political Statement
Individuals have begun to question their consumption patterns by choosing to embark on 'consumption fasts' and openly discuss the materialistic attitudes that currently pervade society and inform policy decisions.
People are resorting to extreme measures to rid themselves of their addictions to consumption; perhaps implying the time is right for a strong public campaign to slow consumption.
Trading in Money for Time
While not a new idea, discourse about alternative economies has begun to emerge, with some suggesting we trade in productivity gains for increased leisure time rather than monetary raises.
Perpetual economic growth is impossible on a finite planet, but are we willing to sacrifice the desire for new things for more free time?
Culture as the Gateway to Sustainability
Researchers and academics have begun to explore sustainability beyond material efficiencies by making connections between culture, values and pro-environmental behaviours.
Clothing could become far more tailored to one's personality, behaviours and lifestyle, rather than reflecting the whims of a moment in time.
Fighting Opacity with Openness
Artists and activists have begun to use open-knowledge technologies to make political statements about the garment industry and its abuses.
Fashion could become more political, more aligned with art in its criticism of the status quo; a canvas upon which to communicate ideologies and challenge paradigms.
Pope Francis Believes Consumption Is Closely Tied to Morality
Pope Francis uses his 2015 New Year's address to comment on the blight of modern-day slavery and call on his followers to consider how their purchasing decisions could be engendering the hardship and suffering of others.
Will spiritual leaders champion a consumer-led rebellion to do less harm?
Body Modification, Implantable Technologies and CrossFit Obsessions
We live in a time of instant gratification and nano trends, but a growing number of people are turning to far more permanent forms of adornment and body modification to express themselves.
Hyper-trend following may become unfashionable.
"Buy Goods, Not Bads": Whole Foods Targets Intrinsic Values
Whole Foods' 'Values Matter' campaign showcases their purpose-driven business model and banks on attracting shoppers based on their intrinsic values.
If successful, this campaign may suggest that people are longing to align their values with their purchasing behaviours.