This article marks the fifth in Urban Times’ EcoFashion Series. We hope to shed some light on the eco fashion industry by exploring elements such as the sustainability, culture, ecology, psychology, labour and future of fashion. Our authors explore to what extent eco fashion is on the cusp of becoming the next big trend.
Previous episode: Psychology of Fashion
I was just having an incredibly insightful conversation with Dr. Frank Shaw of Centre for Future Studies about the proper methodology to predict the future, when I realized it is time to explain to the world how this ‘predicting’ thing works, before everyone assumes this is a job for psychics. I don’t know anything about crystal balls, but I can at least say there are other useful models to anticipate future scenarios at a global range with a highly reliable percentage of certainty.
Frank answered with wisdom and calm in his voice, and I could clearly perceive throughout the conversation an inspiring and optimistic way of thinking that made me immediately understand what he has that made him one of the top ten influential thinkers in the world by Time Magazine in 2003 – his vision!
And it is precisely on vision that I would like to start talking about The Future of Fashion.
A place for everything and everything in its place
When I say future, I mean a relatively distant future – let us say, maybe 5 to 25 years ahead – that rely on a foreseen scenario that starts with a shift in behaviour – today. This behaviour develops really slowly and has a large duration and rage of diffusion from innovators to late adopters. This is called a trend.
To make predictions with this range of sight requires a large dose of curiosity and a wise, wide and perfectly clear vision. Many analysts, such as Lidewij Edelkoort, have been studying both the future of Fashion and the Sustainability trend and their inevitable correlation with the Environment Zeitgeist topic – one of the major and universal topics of our society that reflects our fear and that influences all that we do, where we go, what we say, what we want and why.
Source: Brent Borreson on flickr.com
I will now say what I am not going to talk about: I am not going to talk about fashions or fads, which are shorter-term behaviour that differ from trends in terms of their rates of acceptance and duration. In the fashion industry, the products and styles usually respond to fashions – rapid oscillations that start with increased high levels of adoption, followed by its immediate decline and, most of the time, by a period of numbness to soon emerge again from a revisited point of view. This is how the fashion industry behaves nowadays and it is also likely to be predicted seasonally with similar forecasting analysis.
Nevertheless, many other products, behaviour, styles or businesses in fashion have a slower growth and often survive and evolve through time with a widespread acceptance and impact among people. This happens because they respond to a stronger mindset given by mentality trends.
And finally, just to stay clear, I am not going to talk about futurism or futuristic fashion – the first, an artistic and social movement of the early 20th century and, the second, a specific style in fashion that is revisited from time to time, like the Courrèges ‘Space Age’ of 1964.
Anticipating possible futures for eco-fashion can be as simple as drawing a line from the past to the present moment and extending it to the future. 360º vision is crucial to identify and understand possible external drivers that can change trends throughout the next years. Political, social and cultural factors can influence style and affect changes made to the law and the introduction of new environmental policies. Sudden and profound shifts in the environment and/or scientific discoveries could impact the future of fashion forever.
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