Looking Back:
Fashion in 2017

22.12.2017 Fashion : Sustainability : Digital

Automated manufacturing, data-driven creativity and the merging of the physical and digital worlds have all made a serious impact on the industry in 2017.

The Trend: Fast Fabrication

The Liquid Factory by Reebok, US

In 2017, there was a rise of automated manufacturing systems in the apparel and footwear industry as brands competed to create products that are speedy, personalised and ethically produced.

Adidas pioneered this approach with the introduction of its Speedfactory in London, Paris, New York, Tokyo and Shanghai. Speedfactory’s automated production line can be rapidly reprogrammed to respond to consumer demand as well as local cultural shifts, allowing the brand to create small runs of exclusive products without long lead times.

This trend is also opening up opportunities for material innovation that are impossible with a human workforce, as demonstrated by Reebok, as well as eliminating unethical and unsustainable working practices in the industry.

​The Big Idea: Data-driven Creativity​

Project Muze by Zalando and Google Project Muze by Zalando and Google

The fashion industry is beginning to embrace data and AI as powerful tools to preempt consumers’ needs. No longer fearful of technology affecting the sector’s creativity, brands are actively responding to consumer demand and developing products that cater for their requirements.

In collaboration with Zalando, Google tapped into the concept of data design with Project Muze. It analysed the vast data harvested from its trends platform, which it combined with the style preferences of more than 600 fashion experts to create 3D fashion designs through machine learning.

‘Interpreting the digital technology versus craft argument as a ‘zero-sum game’ highlights a fundamental misunderstanding of the role that technology can play in the creative process,’ says Wojtek Tusz, interim director of the Digital Anthropology Lab at the London College of Fashion. ‘Technology itself does not replace craft, but rather what you apply the technology to.’

The Space: Disobedient Bodies at The Hepworth

Disobedient Bodies by JW Anderson at The Hepworth, Wakefield Disobedient Bodies by JW Anderson at The Hepworth, Wakefield
Disobedient Bodies by JW Anderson at The Hepworth, Wakefield Disobedient Bodies by JW Anderson at The Hepworth, Wakefield
Disobedient Bodies by JW Anderson at The Hepworth, Wakefield Disobedient Bodies by JW Anderson at The Hepworth, Wakefield

Fashion brands continue to fuel and facilitate conversations around culture that go beyond their sector. Focusing on art, fashion and ceramics, fashion designer Jonathan Anderson curated the Disobedient Bodies exhibition at the Hepworth gallery in Wakefield.

Featuring more than 100 items from a range of designers and disciplines, the space featured a centrepiece that invited visitors to transform their bodies with oversized, colourful jumpers.

‘I want the exhibition to mirror the speed and unexpected encounters that characterise the way in which we consume images today,’ said Anderson, ‘as well as being a space in which to explore ideas of gender and identity that have been an ongoing part of my creative process.’

The Campaign: Collection 4 by Phelan

Collection 4 by Phelan

With new digital realities continuing to appear, some fashion brands visualised the merging of physical and digital spaces through surreal and engaging campaigns.

For its autumn/winter 2017 campaign, knitwear brand Phelan juxtaposed a digital aesthetic with films of dancing models wearing its Collection 4. Inspired by creative director and CEO Amanda Phelan’s childhood drawings, the narrative shows the artist’s use of scribble as sketch, flipping repeatedly between her imagination and reality.

The digital sphere is increasingly used to communicate the tactility and qualities of fashion collections, with digital models and avatars becoming new brand ambassadors.

​The Interview: Martine Jarlgaard on blockchain redefining sustainability

Fragile; a State of Emergency by Martine Jarlgaard, London Fragile; a State of Emergency by Martine Jarlgaard, London

As the fashion industry continues to voice its commitment to addressing its own unsustainable business practices, little notable progress is being made as a whole. Designer Martine Jarlgaard proposed using blockchain technology to re-assess fashion’s definition of success to include sustainability, ethics and innovation.

The Provenance platform was used to log the supply chain details of Jarlgaard’s capsule collection, Fragile: a State of Emergency, on to the blockchain, with each stage of the product journey logged in real time by individual suppliers and manufacturers.

‘Blockchain-powered transparency enables trustworthy information and honesty around products and brands to circulate, helping consumers to make well-informed purchasing decisions,’ explained Jarlgaard. ‘For brands, it enables them to communicate their values and product origins by empowering them, and elevating the accountability of supply chain partners.’

Download the Future Forecast PDF

Now that you know where the fashion world has been, find out where it is going in the next year. Download our Future Forecast 2018 report here.