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Fashion is moving faster than ever — but you knew that. Product turnaround is lightning speed, shipping is nearly instant, customization is the norm, and smart watches know more about our day-to-day lives than our significant others do. In the wake of all this innovation and business-model-upheaval is, unfortunately, some pretty nasty gunk: water and air pollution, unfair labor practices, massive waste.
The fashion industry is in a duality: on one hand, it feels like the future is miraculously now, with promise of faster, cheaper, smarter clothes and accessories. On the other hand there are environmental threats and factory fires; the sad badge of being one of the most polluting industries on earth.
Thankfully — and despite reputation — our community is not without brilliant, innovative, game-changing minds. As this year comes to a close and we look to the next, we asked a handful of respected designers, CEOs, forecasters, and consults to dream up their vision for the next decade with one simple question:
What would you like to see from the fashion industry in ten years?
Adam Wray, REDEF fashion curator
"In ten years, I hope we'll have made at least some progress towards eliminating exploitative labor practices and environmentally-abusive production techniques. Barring massive economic upheaval or natural disaster, I don't see any hope of the industry's pace slowing down, so it'll have to happen through technological innovation.
A more robust culture of fashion criticism
I'd also like to see a more robust culture of fashion criticism. Compared to other media, there are so few credible fashion critics, and not nearly enough good journalists tackling it from a business angle. It's crazy to me that Apple keynotes are scrutinized like the Zapruder film but we get maybe two or three in-depth articles on Zara per year.
Lastly, I hope independent, bricks-and-mortar boutiques are able to flourish in an industry increasingly reliant on e-commerce outlets and labels selling directly to consumers. Browsing a well-designed, well-curated boutique is a great pleasure, and it would be really sad to see that disappear."
Fern Mallis, creator of New York Fashion Week and fashion consultant
"I’d like to see an industry that has truly become committed to sustainability and fair labor practices. No longer making clothes in factories with children and despicable working conditions, and no longer polluting our planet.
I would like to see prices become more realistic (meaning less expensive), and sizes become more attuned to the fact that there are more customers size 14 and above than there are size 0-8. I would also like to see clothes in the stores that correlate to the season one is shopping in."
Stacey Burr, Adidas digital sports managing director
Health trackers embedded in everyday clothes
"By 2025, Near Field Communication chips will be in embedded in all of our shoes and clothing. I see enormous potential in this with health trackers. Going beyond the wrist, everyday clothes will be capable of hosting embeddable trackers in a variety of fashions. They'll become the norm in apparel. It won't be a question of whether or not to have a tracker, it’ll more so be a question of how you'd like to wear it."
Neil Blumenthal, Warby Parker co-founder and co-CEO
"We’d like to see form with more function. We’d love to see aesthetically-pleasing design that’s more temperature responsive. I never want to be hot or cold again. Seems like this should be possible."
Jeff Johnson, The Arrivals co-founder and creative director
"3D visualization tools are ubiquitously used throughout the architecture and product design fields. At The Arrivals, we use 3-D printing, digital modeling, and photo-realistic renderings to help us visualize our products and communicate more clearly with our vendors. Working in an industry where these tools become the standard would greatly improve the efficiency of the industry and possibly breed more creative ideas, products, and brands in the future.
3D visualization tools as the industry standard
I'd like to see an increase in fairness: fair pay for workers, fair prices from brands, and customer consensus on ethical production. For fashion in general, we want to see a return to quality. We know this is the antithesis of fast fashion, but it's definitely possible and what customers deserve. We want to see brands making items that people want to keep and see age, gracefully. Consumers understand and appreciate the value of well-constructed pieces, so we hope to see a shift away from trends and more toward forever pieces."
Aurora James, Brother Vellies creative director
"I would love to see mass fashion get to a place that empowers people in the production process. I hope the days of fast fashion will be over soon and we can start valuing craftsmanship again. We have it in us — let's hope 10 years sees it come to pass."
Yael Aflalo, Reformation founder and CEO
A green, at-home dry cleaning system
"Fashion is the third most polluting industry in the world, so we're always looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Garment care is an ongoing topic because of its environmental impact. I would love to see a green at-home dry cleaning system offered within ten years, so consumers can avoid all of the chemical exposure and impact that comes with traditional dry cleaning, along with the convenience of doing it all at home."
Dio Kurazawa, WGSN denim director
"Denim brands, fabric mills, and laundries have begun to move quite aggressively towards sustainability, including decreased use of harsh chemicals, water consumption, and energy: I would love to see these initiatives evolve. This could include the eradication of chemicals, and the need for manual laborers."
Alan Tisch, Spring co-founder and CEO
"It's an exciting time for fashion as shopping becomes more about the journey and experience and less just about the buying process. I'd like to see fashion in a place where customers and engaged followers of a brand can experience said brand in ways that don't exist today. Whether it's virtual reality capabilities — using VR to experience a
Using VR to visit a showroom and seamlessly purchase in-app
fashion show, or better yet, visit a showroom, or spend a day with a designer — and be able to seamlessly purchase in-app during that experience.
I'd like to see the fashion community thinking about direct to consumer strategies, particularly on mobile. The major shift towards mobile is inevitable."
Jonathan Cheung, Levi's Head of Design
"My biggest wish for us as a fashion industry is to stay curious: to be actively open to discovering whatever arises, to push our species forward creatively and culturally. Let’s be optimistic about the future. We don’t know what will come, but trust that there will be amazing things. There are incredible designers still at design schools — I’ve seen them. In ten years time they will be at the height of their creative powers. They will change things for the better. They are the future and we’re in good, good hands."