WWD thrust the crystal ball upon some of fashion’s top executives and what many of them saw was a future defined by a much more assertive shopper.

“Fashion today is really being dictated by the customer,” said Roger Farah, co-chief executive officer of Tory Burch. “They’re different in how they approach design, product. They’re willing to mix and match.”

John Jay, president of global creative at Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., also saw the customer as the new face of fashion: “In the world of customization, they’re playing a part in design.”

The same is true for the giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s shoppers.

Jane Ewing, senior vice president of business development for the U.S. discount stores, said, “They’re making all their own choices and they’re adapting their style as they see fit, individually and collectively.”

The solution, for Liz Rodbell, president of Hudson’s Bay Co.’s namesake and Lord & Taylor businesses, is to get close to that consumer.

“The next decade is really going to be about personalization — uniqueness, self-expression and really more and more about connecting with each and every one of the customers that we have,” Rodbell said.

The digitally empowered consumer is also knowledgeable and paying attention.

“Authenticity is the future of fashion,” said Neil Blumenthal, cofounder and co-ceo of Warby Parker.

“We live in the age of the Internet, where you have so much access to information that I think it has to be everything from what a brand stands for to how it behaves, what are the individuals at a company, how do they act? How are they good stewards of the environment? Are they good stewards of the supply chain and the factories that they work with? All of those details matter.”

And fashion, as a great recycler, will always see a future informed by the past, although perhaps not dominated by it.

“We all are looking to the past because sometimes it’s more safe looking at the past,” said Pierpaolo Piccioli, co-creative director at Valentino. “But we’ve always felt that it was better to see, not to go back with nostalgic eyes. You can see heritage as memory and if you have a memory, you can look forward into the future with big roots.”

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