Eco-Fashion Predictions for 2017

MARCI ZAROFF (FOUNDER, UNDER THE CANOPY; FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, METAWEAR)

2017 will be another big year in the rapidly growing eco-fashion movement.

With online shopping and conscientious consumerism gaining more ground, new ethical fashion websites and transparency models will join the likes of Zady, Ethica, Modavanti and Rêve en Vert.

And we can’t “make America great again” without a rebirth of U.S. manufacturing, so expect to see an increase in “made in the U.S.A.” labels produced at innovative domestic factories like MetaWear in Fairfax, Va.

We’ll enjoy a new wave of purpose driven fashion statements on eco-chic tees from leading brands, millennial entrepreneurs. and even celebrities.

Note, for example, “Matriarchy Now” T-shirts by Chiara Hardy (daughter of world-renowned jewelry designer and green activist John Hardy), or “Just Water” apparel from water advocate Jaden Smith (son of powerhouse actor Will Smith).

As a timely solution to address UN Sustainable Development Goal hot topics such as climate change and water, organic-cotton apparel, and home fashion will get more attention than ever before as the next frontier of an organic and conscious lifestyle—from media, consumers, young and established brands (from Under the Canopy to Kering’s Outerknown and Stella McCartney) and on the shelves and websites of major retailers.

“Farm to table” has now birthed the “Farm to closet” movement, as the dots from food to fiber connect and are now being embraced.

And in the words of my friend Lauren Singer of Trash is for Tossers, “how cool is that?” as we’ll experience a surge in zero-waste collections, circular-economy efforts and solutions to textile waste from designers like Daniel Silverstein, brands such as Skunkfunk, factories like The Renewal Workshop, materials like Recover, and certification/collaboration efforts such as those of the Cradle to Cradle Innovation Institute’s “Fashion Positive” initiative.

 

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FRANCISCA PINEDA (CREATIVE DIRECTOR, BHAVA)

As quickly as 2016 flew by, expect an increase in blurring of lines for 2017 across all aspects of life.

Travel, entrepreneurship, politics, technology, and economic systems continue to intertwine.

Seeking to understand will prove increasingly difficult in an era where the unexpected is the norm.

From one cataclysm to the next, global desensitization is of concern and a heightened sensitization to the realities of other’s pain will be essential.

In eco-fashion, carving out a brand identity will not be a result of qualitative strategy, but rather by the perceptions forged during customer experience.

The conscious consumer has a heightened intuition which can at one moment lead to salvation or ruin.

Demand for genuine connection will stand out in contrast to the superficial claims of transparency that had been acceptable in the past.

As the public questions their role and purpose in the world, so too must eco-fashion continue to evolve to a movement representing not only hope, but quantitative global solutions.

 

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JOSHUA KATCHER (DESIGNER, BRAVE GENTLEMAN; ADJUNCT PROFESSOR, PARSONS SCHOOL OF DESIGN, THE NEW SCHOOL)

2017 will be the year that biofabrication goes mainstream.

Conventional skins, furs, wools and silks are well on their way to obsolescence—and for good reason. They are responsible for some of the worst cruelties, and as the new Kering Environmental Profit & Loss Account points out, animal materials pose some of the hugest ecological impacts, with cashmere having the single greatest impact of all materials.

Japan closed their last remaining fur farm right at the end of 2016, and we are poised to see cellular agriculture step into the material innovation and evolution spotlight.

With companies like AMsilk, Bolt Threads, and Spiber already producing biosynthesized spider silk at scale, and Modern Meadow and others poised to synthesize biologically identical skins, 2017 will be a year of leaps and bounds toward a more efficient, customizable, sustainable, and kind fashion future.

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RACHEL KIBBE (PROPRIETOR, HELPSY)

I think it’s safe to say the ethical-fashion movement is in full force and finally most consumers have heard something about it.

I think, as we move into the new year, the biggest issues in this movement will be to keep it pure and honest.

More and more companies are using the concept of eco- and ethical fashion to “greenwash,” which is only changing small parts of their production chains for the better for marketing purposes, while leaving the bulk of their chains the same or actually increasingly worse.

While there is room for little, by little, and step-by-step change too—it is harder to change large production systems rapidly, admittedly—I also think it’s our job as leaders of the movement and consumers of clothes, to hold companies accountable as increasing numbers of fashion designers are realizing the increasing importance of fair production to their target consumers and the monetary value in marketing sustainability.

For example, it is very easy to throw around terms like “natural” and “eco” for marketing purposes while also abusing labor and other parts of the huge fashion production chain.

So we need to be more careful than ever about who we are buying from and ask them lots of questions about how they are making what they’re making.

Buyer beware!

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BIANCA ALEXANDER (CREATIVE DIRECTOR AND HOST, CONSCIOUS LIVING TV)

Although we live In a “highly connected” world with lighting speed internet connections and constant connections to our “friends,” many people today actually feel less emotionally and spiritually connected to the world we live in than ever before.

As such, consumers today are soul searching for more true connections and authenticity to help fill the void. One way they will seek to find this connection and authenticity will be through the clothes they wear.

A demand for a more minimal, meaningful wardrobe comprised of pieces representing a deeper connection to the earth through natural fabrics (organic cottons, wools, peace silks), and to the people and cultures who make their clothes through artisanal crafting and design will help to fulfill consumers’ desire to simplify things and get back to their roots.

A great example of this is a recent layover we took through the Insadong district in Seoul, South Korea. Surrounded by dozens of shops filled with cheap souvenirs and fast fashion on every corner, the most fascinating and memorable stop on our journey was wandering into a tiny boutique displaying beautiful dresses, pants and scarves made from silk and plant-fiber textiles.

We met the owners and the makers, a mother-daughter team who lovingly showed us how each garment was painted by hand with all-natural dyes using an indigenous artisanal technique passed down through their family for over four generations! I will forever treasure the traditional hanbok style tied-dyed tunic they picked out for me.

The trend this year for more authentic, indigenous fashion will not only help consumers express their individuality with one of a kind looks, but to also feel good about supporting small social enterprises creating opportunities for indigenous cultures from the remotest of places to share their techniques with the world.

And that’s a lot to feel good about.

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KESTREL JENKINS (FOUNDER, AWEAR WORLD; HOST, CONSCIOUS CHATTER)

We are on the verge of a millennial power shift. And when it comes to the future of fashion, this means shoppers are thinking beyond the price tag.

As the 2015 Cone Communications study showed, “more than nine in 10 millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause, and two-thirds use social media to engage around CSR.”

With higher fashion education integrating sustainability into their curriculums, the realities behind supply chains will become more transparent for the future generation of designers.

“Fast fashion” will continue to lose its “cool factor” with the “cool kids,” as they demand more answers and connected stories from the brands they support.

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