Fashion in 2021
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In 2021, we tracked the physical and digital innovators cultivating an eco-imperfect, omni-engaging and accessible fashion industry.

The Trend: Eco-motional Fashion

Dirt, US Dirt, US

In our Eco-motional Fashion microtrend, we explored the new wave of change-makers paving the way towards a more positive, human-centric approach to sustainability.

Even before we published our much-anticipated Sustainability Report, we were exploring the glaring need for fashion businesses to confront past mistakes when it comes to eco-consciousness. As part of this, ethical consultancies emerged to offer brands a new perspective on the climate crisis, such as Dirt, a charity that helps brands understand their history as well as promoting and funding biodynamic farming.

Meanwhile, another ethical consultancy, CogDis, is focusing on sustainability through a spiritual and human-centric lens. The name CogDis, a portmanteau of cognitive dissonance, refers to the idea of tension between belief and action in relation to consumption behaviours. ‘In our society, the emotional side of sustainability has been sidelined – the fear about climate change, the outrage about social injustice,’ explained co-founder Faith Robinson in our accompanying Q&A. ‘There’s never been space in the industry to acknowledge how that feels.’

The Big Idea: Hacking fashion

This year, we future-gazed to the year 2030, considering the ways that fashion could be hacked, tracked and rationed in the coming years.

Beginning by looking at today's fashion landscape, we explored how virtual garments are being framed as a more sustainable choice for consumers, with retail platforms such Dress-X and The Dematerialised driving innovation in this space. Yet, while digital-first solutions are being touted for their green credentials, brands must also consider the environmental impact of these data-heavy products.

Then, looking ahead to 2025, we experienced fashion through the eyes of a fictional character called Emma, a 28-year-old artificial intelligence programmer based in Copenhagen. We can expect concepts like Asket’s Impact Receipts, which detail the CO2 emissions, water usage and energy consumption per item of clothing, to be commonplace in 2025.

By 2030, digital fashion drops will return to the market – using dynamic pricing to maintain excitement. Garment trading will also be popular, with a blockchain-based business model from Everledger and Alexander McQueen, which lets you register and trade items of clothing with other people, pioneering this approach.

Asket, Sweden Asket, Sweden
Asket, Sweden Asket, Sweden

The Campaign: Klarna shuns the lockdown look

Get Smooth Again by A$AP Rocky and Klarna, Sweden

This June, payments service Klarna confronted people’s lockdown looks – through a clever campaign inspiring fashion exploration.

The brand's multimedia campaign included a short film that starred sartorially slick musician A$AP Rockywho had recently been announced as a shareholder of the company – returning to the streets of New York after the city's longest period of lockdown. Emerging from his home in an old dressing gown, the video saw passers-by tease him about his tired threads, before A$AP Rocky clicked the Klarna app to find a sharp new outfit.

With a sign-off to ‘Drop your lockdown look’ and ‘Get smooth again’, the campaign promoted Klarna’s role in facilitating frictionless shopping and payments. As we enter 2022, we can expect to see more businesses encourage consumers to step out of their Homebody cocoons and use fashion to re-engage with the physical world.

The Interview: Jen Charron on fashion rental’s local future

Loanhood, UK Loanhood, UK

In May, we spoke to Jen Charon, the co-founder of Loanhood, to find out why fashion trends in local communities are driving the future of clothing rental.

The Loanhood platform focuses on fashion rental as a means of creativity, self-expression and style inspiration, and a way to meet like-minded people locally. ‘We're building a sustainable system where people can keep enjoying fashion, but in a way that is different from the take, wear and chuck version that we've been operating in and living with,’ explained Charron.

Crucially, Loanhood sees a future opportunity to develop education on sustainability and to expand its rental offer to include virtual garments – something for brands to prepare for in 2022. ‘Looking at the long term, there's potential for users to be able to rent both real and digital clothes,’ she continued. ‘Then, as the technology develops, we’d like to offer digital try-ons to help reduce any disappointment about clothing arriving and people realising it doesn’t fit them.

The Space: Gucci opens its virtual doors in Roblox

Gucci Garden Archetypes on Roblox Gucci Garden Archetypes on Roblox
Gucci Garden Archetypes on Roblox Gucci Garden Archetypes on Roblox
Gucci Garden Archetypes on Roblox Gucci Garden Archetypes on Roblox

In 2021, fashion brands started to carve out their space in the metaverse. We spotlighted Gucci back in May, when the luxury house opened its virtual doors with the creation of a digital garden in the gaming platform Roblox.

The Gucci Garden offered a virtual complement to the brand’s real-life Gucci Garden Archetypes multimedia exhibition, hosted in Florence, Italy. Offering the chance for people around the world to visit the interactive gallery, visitors to the Gucci Garden took the form of ageless, gender-neutral digital mannequins, which, as they navigated the space, transformed into digital artworks in their own right.

In the space, virtual visitors were able to shop for limited-edition digital Gucci items for their avatar, created solely for the experience in Roblox. ‘While fashion and art may feel out of reach, the metaverse is bringing them closer and making them more accessible for millions of people, building on Gucci’s quest to empower individuals and expanding self-expression to new virtual territories,’ read a Roblox statement.

The case study showed how fashion spaces are increasingly being built in the virtual realm – where next-generation shoppers are playing and socialising – as opposed to the physical.

Download the Future Forecast 2022 report

Now that you know what shaped 2021, discover what’s on the horizon. Download our Future Forecast 2022 report comprising 50 new trends across 10 key consumer sectors, insights from our analysts and interviews with global innovators.

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