Change, speed, and innovation are now the name of the game. According to the State of Fashion 2018 report by BoF & McKinsey, 66 percent of millennials around the world are willing to spend more on sustainable fashion. It is time brands listen to their millennial customers demanding more sustainable options, without sacrificing quality and affordability.
Reformation is a sustainable women’s clothing and accessories company that practices complete transparency, posting their CO2 and waste savings on their website. For every product! Millennials care a lot about sustainable fashion, even willingly choosing to switch loyalty from brands that don’t promote sustainable production to more ethical options.
Part of the problem could be that there is not enough product availability and effective marketing to cater toward this demographic’s needs. While millennial consumers state an interest in sustainable brands, the reality is that few labels promote ethical production. A few are: • Patagonia • Everlane • Reformation
Natalie Massenet, the serial fashion-preneur who founded luxury ecommerce site, Net-a-Porter, launched a venture capital firm focusing on the intersection of technology and retail in direct-to-consumer, consumer fashion startups. It could just be that the brands best able to balance newness with affordability and sustainability will experience the most success.
Sustainability is just a piece of the puzzle, and it won’t even matter unless brands also meet consumers’ price point while demonstrating product uniqueness. For consumers to care, brands must take an all-in approach. Instead of lengthy reports hidden in a brand’s website, the focus should be on making sustainability information quick, easy, and digestible.
Fast fashion is just so, well, easy. A 2016 report by McKinsey revealed that nearly three-fifths of all clothing ends up in incinerators or landfills within a year of being made. So although today’s consumers value sustainability, the reality is that most clothing is not made to last and ends up in the garbage.
Reformation’s online shopping tool, RefScale, shows consumers how much waste they will contribute in buying a Reformation product versus a less-sustainable option like a cotton t-shirt. With millennial consumption expected to rise to 45 percent of the global luxury goods market by 2025, our days of ownership may be over.17 “I think a huge portion of what we wear in the future is going to be comprised of things we don’t own forever,” says founder and chief executive Jennifer Hyman, of Rent the Runway.
Companies are starting to learn that their customers value having more options through renting over ownership. Hyman claims that consumers would rather have limited access to designer goods for the price of one article of clothing at Zara. Consuming sustainably and with purpose is fashion’s new frontier.
Elizabeth St. John
Liz makes accessories, hand-made flowers, and details for other gowns with her extra material. Elizabeth St. John does not print catalogs and runs her atelier entirely on wind power. Textile dyeing is the second largest polluter after agriculture. The obsession with immediate access to fashion promotes a throwaway culture, shortening the lifespan of clothing.
Stella McCartney, for instance, has been an avid supporter of sustainable fashion throughout her career. Circularity in the fashion industry refers to the reuse of materials, discouraging the typical production and waste cycle of clothing. According to a 2017 study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, fifty-three million tons of clothing are produced globally each year, of which 87 percent is ultimately either incinerated or dumped in landfills.
At the 2017 Copenhagen Fashion Summit, fashion brands made a commitment to employ a completely circular fashion system by 2020.23 Together, all of the brands that push for a more sustainable fashion cycle account for 12 percent of the global apparel market, according to the Global Fashion Agenda.
H&M was one of the first brands in 2012 to institute a global clothing collection initiative, and since 2015, H&M has offered grants to companies and startups with the most innovative ideas in closed-loop textiles. The problem of overconsumption in clothing has grown to be massive and must be tackled, and soon.
AI Chatbots and the Rise of the See-Now-Buy-Now Model
Advancements in Wearable Tech
Solidarity for a Cause—Authentic Brand Messaging
Today’s consumer wants more than just a product.
• Young fashion innovators and consumers gaining influence and demanding their voices be heard
• Increasing irrelevance of the traditional fashion trend cycle—consumers continue to gravitate toward clothes that can be worn in any season.
• The shift toward increasingly younger entrepreneurs as major innovators in fashion—younger people have the pulse on street culture and the most relevant trends.
• Fashion labels shifting focus from exclusive product promotion to an inclusive and integrated retail experience for customers
Past influence on New Trends
• An athleisure revolution rooted in a nostalgic nod to the past
• More brands looking to past trends for tomorrow’s fashion inspiration
• Increasing relevance of current events and pop culture in forecasting trends
• A continued shift to a more inclusive fashion
• Emergence of more designers and models of color into positions of power in fashion
• More brands channeling the influence of youth culture into clothing
• A move away from a tokenistic approach to diversity in fashion and a push for more diverse and inclusive appointments
• A continued spike in streetwear culture, sparked by today’s youth
• Mix of luxury with streetwear, further pushing the boundaries on what constitutes high fashion
• Heightened visibility of people of color in all aspects of the fashion industry
• Fashion embracing diversity in beauty and clothing lines
Sinéad says “one of the challenges of fashion is that it is notoriously hierarchical, and it profits from exclusivity. In order for the disabled market to be relevant and to have their voices validated, there must be power sharing.
• Millennial push for more realistic and relatable faces in fashion
• Movement embracing size inclusivity
• Increased activism and raised awareness around the issues of those typically left out of the fashion conversation If we don’t begin to create fashion that is more inclusive and available for people of all abilities, we will be leaving out a large portion of the population from the conversation.
• Increased integration of retail experience for adaptable fashion
• Consumer call to action addressing the needs of underrepresented groups and urging companies to pay attention to their unique needs
The Changing Face of Leadership
• New innovations on social media channels like Instagram revolutionizing fashion imagery and how consumers engage with this content
• The push for a more inclusive social media experience to attract and retain the interest of new customers
• Products packaged and branded with a message to capture consumer interest
• Inclusivity encompassing more people from varied backgrounds in positions of power
Shifting Beauty Standards
• Flourishing body positive movement to embrace people of all looks and sizes
• Shifting beauty standards to an appreciation for individuality
Fashion as Empowerment
• Consumer shift to interest in products created from passion instead of following trends
• Increasing representation in fashion and models like Halima Aden setting a powerful example for girls everywhere
• More women getting involved in fashion, using it as an outlet to share their creativity
• Boosting self-esteem for women through fashion is a major focus.
• Customization of brand experience transforming consumer expectations and raising the bar for brand experience integration
• The importance of strong customer service in brand success
• More brands embracing personalization to appeal to younger consumers