Bell bottoms dominated the ‘60s, polyester the 70s, and in the 80s, spandex and lycra were king. And for the first decade of the new millennium, earth-friendly products have continued to create an eco-buzz. However, how green will the evolution of this trillion dollar sector be?
By the year 2025:
- Will clothes biodegrade?
- Will our outfits monitor our health?
- Will climate change refugees spread new fashion influences around the world?
- Will a shortage of raw materials see us renting our clothes from libraries?
- Will technological advances make it common to grow what we wear?
In an attempt to answer just these sorts of questions and inspire some creative thinking and innovation, Levi Strauss & Co. and sustainability experts Forum for the Future recently teamed up to launch FASHION FUTURES. Produced in collaboration with fashion experts from around the world in manufacturing, design and retail, as well as universities, trade unions and NGOs, Fashion Futures is an attempt to explore every aspect of the industry, from production of raw materials, through manufacturing and sale, to use and end of life.
“The global fashion industry generates a trillion dollars a year. What we wear –- and how it's made and sold –- can have a huge positive impact on our society and environment, "explains Peter Madden, Chief Executive of the Forum on how fashion could (and should) continue to develop leaner and greener. “For the fashion industry to be sustainable economically, it must be sustainable socially and environmentally too,“ adds John Anderson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Levi Strauss & Co.
Based on key factors already affecting the fashion industry, profound change over the next 15 years is inevitable, and Fashion Futures has identified FOUR POSSIBLE SCENARIOS for 2025. “These provocative scenarios challenge all of us to look beyond the short term," continues Levi's Anderson, "and use our collective power to work to create the kind of positive world we’d like to see in 2025."
1. SLOW IS BEAUTIFUL Climate change refugees have introduced new fashion influences. People monitor their health and well-being by wearing “smart” clothing; at the same time, they own fewer, but higher quality clothes, and high-street brands now compete on their sustainability credentials. As vintage and second-hand clothes continue to grow in popularity, Japan, in particular, specializes in re-manufacturing the world's used garments. The new world order is one of political collaboration and global trade.
2. TECHNO-CHIC A now low-carbon economy combined with massive technological investment has created high-tech systems catering to a speed-obsessed shopper. 3-D body scanners allow people to “try on” clothes in virtual mirrors, while “Chameleon” clothing (a military spin-off and the latest craze), offers a blank canvas that can change color and style...depending on the celeb of the moment. Modular clothing, produced by machines in China, is customized in-store to individual taste; clothes are designed to be reused or biodegrade. In this prosperous scenario, the world is seriously eco-chic and fashion is seriously fun.
3. COMMUNITY COUTURE Only the rich are now able to afford new clothing in a world severely impacted both by climate change and an extreme shortage of resources; raw materials are so rare and valuable, any factories using them to produce clothing require armed protection. Not surprisingly, second-hand clothing has become a valuable resource, and community recycling centers are where people go to make their own clothes. Fashionistas who still enjoy dressing up now rent garments from clothing libraries. Although nothing is thrown away in this scenario, it does present a somewhat bleak picture of communities forced to be self-sufficient in the extreme.
4. PATCHWORK PLANET With the world having fragmented into competing blocs, religious and cultural ideas inspire rapidly-changing fashions, and throughout much of the Middle East, Western clothing is banned. Resource shortages have, however, driven innovation: clothes are designed to be zipped, tucked, and strapped to create different looks - in combination with post-purchase services (like on-demand tailoring to replicate the latest local trend) - and garments can even be "grown" from bacterial cellulose. In other words, better living (and fashion) through chemistry.
- Lesley Scott
(futuristic image at top: source)