Make no mistake, the current pandemic has compelled consumers to relook at their lifestyle choices.

The fashion consumer of today is more conscious about the value of clothing and the impact their choices have on the planet. This has also presented the fashion industry with a chance to relook at fast fashion and the disastrous consequences it has on the environment. The industry as a whole must look at reshaping its value chain and the values by which they measure its actions.

According to WGSN’s forecast, emotions stirred up by the pandemic are the drivers behind current fashion themes. There have been a lot of emotional highs and lows which has led to a sense of uncertainty. We will find in the coming months and years that consumers will be looking to make choices that brighten up their day.

Emerging trends and strategies:

1. Emotional dressing with minimalism and maximalism - Dressing choices will now drive the way we want to feel. We may see consumer self-expression and keeping their inner peace through minimalist dressing choices. Alternatively, the consumer can go and live it up with big loud outward statements self-expression. 

2. Vintage futurism - Fashion brands will be looking at design concepts that reconnect consumers to their heritage/roots but with a contemporary lens. Traditional artisan's work and design will be more visible on a modern canvas along with movements such as Edwardian, Victorian era styles.

3. Slow Fashion - The fashion industry ranks among the top polluting industries globally. Designing sustainably can be a challenge but it’s should not be an excuse for going the easy route. Reusing dead stock and utilizing recyclable materials can help the industry get cleaner and greener. We will see brands using eco-friendly/plant/vegetable/fruit-based dyes along with emerging fiber options like hemp and bamboo. With consumer sentiment leaning towards ethical buying the mantra of Reuse, Recycle and Reinvent will take precedence with leading fashion brands. 

4. Haute Couture art - Consumers will veer towards garments that double up as “investment” pieces, minimalist forever keepsakes, that feel more responsible given the current global scenario.

5. Customised E-tailing - Consumers will look for more personalized shopping experiences. The expectation will be that the salesperson will take into consideration their attitudes, belief systems, and lifestyles, even the mood of the consumer. The modern consumer will look towards brands for real-time engagement and deep personalization before dipping into their wallets or shall we say e-wallets keeping in line with current trends.

6. Anti-viral/protective clothing - We will be already seeing a rise in anti-viral fabric and anti-viral coatings on the fabric being used by mainstream brands in their garments. The question though is how eco-friendly are these fabrics? Is there a body/org to regulate and certify such products which may increase consumer confidence in early adoption?

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The Big Shakeout: “Only the fittest will survive” - This Darwinian quote will be more relevant than ever. The fashion industry was already struggling before the pandemic hit. The current crisis will accelerate the decline of companies already struggling and we will see more mergers & acquisitions along with insolvencies along the way. A wave of consolidation will emerge with companies looking to consolidate their core competencies and occupy the gaps that may emerge from this market reshuffle. What will emerge will be a learner-focused industry and we hope with a more sense of responsibility towards the planet. Green profits will be the name of the game.

About Author

Nishica Gomes is a branding and management professional with over 23 years of industry experience with a view that life and business must be self-sustaining and socially responsible. She is currently the Creative Director at MYPPE Wellness Services Pvt. Ltd. She is also a management educator, lgbtq+ activist, tennis player/coach and tri-athlete.

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