Top sustainable fashion trends to look out for in 2021


February 17, 2021 | By Shruthi Nair

The issue of climate change and the environmental crisis we are in has gotten more prominence in the last decade as it started getting associated with its own cult of pop culture figures and climate change activists. However, the issue isn’t one that hit us from nowhere all of a sudden like a virus nor is Greta Thunberg the first to make a noise about it.

For years, both youth and adult activists from all over the world have been screaming about the drastic and irreversible impact of our actions on the environment, explaining the problems, suggesting solutions, and even naming the industries that are recklessly contributing to the devastation to our planet.

After years and years of turning a deaf ear to the real concerns where some considered it a “hoax” and others were just too oblivious of their actions and believed that the repercussions would only be seen and felt way after they are gone, the world is slowly but surely waking up to the calamity and are finally becoming more mindful and conscious.

Now that consciousness isn’t an overnight occurrence – It is a journey of bidding adieu to the habits we have been practicing for years, increasing our awareness, observing self-control for the greater good, and changing our whole lifestyles. But the willingness is there in people as members of the public as well as consumers of products and services. That is perhaps why sustainability was one of the most searched-for terms in fashion last year on Lyst, the largest global fashion search platform.

“Just look at the world we live in right now. Global temperatures are going up, we’re seeing extreme weather patterns all over the world, our oceans are filled with plastic waste, and the planet’s biodiversity is impacted. There are more than a million plants and animal species that are facing extinction. I think when business leaders and businesses at large just look at that data point, I don’t think sustainability is something that – from a business perspective – can be done because it’s convenient. I think it is an absolute necessity”, said Monica Malhotra, CEO and Founder of The Gaggler, a regionally focused content platform that covers sustainable fashion and beauty extensively.

While sustainability in fashion is a trend in itself, various breakouts are being introduced by the changemakers of the industry at a global and local level, who are taking the initiative to instill and engrain the idea of eco-consciousness into our lifestyles and buying behaviours by revolutionizing business models. At the end of the day, business is about money. So it is about finding a monetarily sustainable solution for businesses so they can make profits without costing the environement.

Malhotra believes that there are four key trends that will dominate the sustainable fashion market this year.

Pre-loved

“The pandemic has made consumers more price-conscious and also more ethically conscious. With that coming together, I think the pre-loved market is going to explode. There are studies that the traditional retail market will be outstripped by the preloved purchasing market in the next few years”

Rental

“Once the vaccines are all distributed and we all go back to our lives I think we’ll see a big push in the rental market. So it no longer is going to be about buying a brand new wedding dress or a brand new black-tie dress. You’ll probably rent it because I think people are becoming more and more conscious and think “if I make such a big purchase, what am I going to do with it after?”

Online fashion shows

“A third prediction that I have is that we saw a lot of fashion houses that went online with their shows. What we’ll also see is that as fashion houses and other companies in the space start to look at what they’re really doing throughout the year, they’ll find opportunities to cut back on major spending and probably just become more sustainable as a result of that”

Sustainable brands

“Fourth, we’ll also see the launch of many sustainable brands. I think just because consumers are becoming more and more conscious about what they buy and where they buy it from and whether that company supports a good cause or sustainably produces the product, we’re going to see a lot more new businesses coming out, focusing on delivering exactly that. Plus, I think we’re also going to see established fashion brands look within themselves and look for ways to also be more sustainable”, she said.

Brands like H&M, Mango, and Marks & Spencer have introduced their conscious range of collections. More recently, Splash came out with their new collection that was made from fabrics that were produced from food crop waste. There you go, trash is also becoming fashion.

Basically, there is going to be a lot of scrutiny from consumers who are increasingly become educated and are demanding and expecting it from the retailers and brands they’ve been loyal to. “It’s going to be really important to make sure that whatever brands and retailers do in the fashion space must be real and authentic because they’re going to get called out for it if it’s not”, she said.

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