Campus Runway: The Future of Fashion Through the Eyes of Young Professionals
Innovative, technical and smart — this is how the ever-evolving fashion industry is looking towards the future of fashion branding and design. With one eye on the present and the other searching ahead, fashion is blazing the trail to the future and giving young professionals a front row seat to the changes underway. Here are three changes to expect when forecasting fashion:
1. Virtual Fashion
The future of fashion is unfolding before our own eyes as brands actively adjust to curating and selling clothing to a digital world. Fashion brands in the future will not only make clothing available online but will also cater to a full digital shopping experience with things like virtual fitting or sizing tools, virtual showrooms and virtual stylists.
“There was a pop-up during New York Fashion Week I went to called Legitimate Tech. And it’s basically up-and-coming designers coming together to feature their wearable digital couture. The event also incorporated NFT (non-fungible tokens),” Steph Murza, a 24-year-old editorial runway photographer, said. “Each exhibit displayed a dressed mannequin with a scannable code that essentially made each look virtual and moveable on your phone.”
Fashion is speeding towards technical advancement with brands like Legitimate Tech using advanced technology, such as non-fungible tokens (NFT) and virtual shopping. The company is the first to have developed a system for creating metaphysical NFTs — a complicated slogan that is used to essentially bind physical objects to its unique digital identity.
The descriptor “non-fungible” means that it is unique and cannot be replaced with something else. NFTs can be anything digital, such as drawings, music and, in the fashion world, a designer’s piece or entire collection — completely unique, completely secure and completely accredited to the artist.
“This is one of those things that will undeniably mark the future of fashion,” Murza said. “Tech will have the biggest hand in whatever happens next in fashion. This is really just the beginning.”
2. Micro-Designer Fashion
“To be 20-something in New York in fashion right now is a really interesting thing because so many rules have changed in the industry,” Stella Pyles, a 22-year-old assistant manager of project management at Tibi, said. “As far as the future of the fashion industry as a whole, small businesses and designers are going to be a really, really big deal.”
The micro-designer is the opposite of the fast-fashion designer, who merely replicates runway trends for immediate consumption by the masses. Rather, micro-designers are those who sell small-batched, technical apparel that is either handmade or locally manufactured. The quantity of these clothes is often so limited that consumers are more attracted to the articles’ uniqueness than any other quality. Can the dawn of these micro-designers disrupt the monopoly of the fashion giants?
“Smaller brands are the future,” Pyles said. “Before the pandemic, people looked at the giant fashion houses, and no one knew where to begin in terms of competition, and now, what has been around for centuries and decades is being challenged by smaller luxury brands.”
These brands are unexpected components. One of Pyles’s favorite designers right now, Sandy Liang, is blazing a trail for young luxury design. At only 30 years old, Liang has established a thriving brand that puts a casual spin on luxury.
“As cliché as it sounds, the pandemic really did open the door for smaller brands, and I think a couple people went for it, and then a couple more people did too and thought, ‘Okay, if they can do it, then maybe I can too,’” Pyles said. “I think we are witnessing this giant butterfly effect, and now we are seeing all these smaller indie and minimal brands rising to the top, which I think is so exciting.”
3. Sustainable Fashion
Sustainability is inarguably the future of fashion. Consumer habits are changing, and it is past time to go all-in for protecting people as well as the planet. This is something to celebrate.
“New York Fashion Week was pretty much made up of sustainable designers,” Murza said. “Designers are making a lot out of nothing, and I do think that sustainability is the future of design… it’s more important now than ever.”
Looking towards the physical materials, many brands, like Christy Dawn and Whimsy + Row, have been using deadstock to make their clothes. Other brands like Thread International are using recycled water bottles in their designs for companies like Reebok. Now, other companies like Pinatex are creating entirely new materials, like vegan leather made from pineapples, to help cut down on harmful products.
This is the beginning of the future.
Green is the feature editor. Follow her on Twitter at @jessigreen0.