“Fashion Foresight: How Fashion Illustrates the World’s Most Pressing Megatrends,” a new report by Sparks & Honey and Fashion Snoops, calls out 18 significant movements, from transgenderism and “squealing” to oneness and empathy, and looks at how they are manifesting within the industry.
The companies went trend-hunting on fashion ground because “the industry is filled with early adapters on the fringes of society,” said Sarah DaVanzo, chief cultural strategy officer at Sparks & Honey, a New York-based agency that uses a disruptive marketing platform, field reports and algorithms to identify emerging cultural trends. “Fashion is full of hungry people with highly trained eyes.”
Globalization and the blending and mash-up of cultures has led to an increasing number of people “being vocal about not identifying with a particular gender. Designs are asexual or androgynous,” DaVanzo said, citing Selfridges’ Agender, fashion without definition designed to explore shifting gender boundaries, and Butchbaby & Co., a brand that’s creating “alternity” (a play on maternity) wear that’s gender neutral.
“Women are wearing men’s clothing and lots of stores have co-ed dressing rooms,” DaVanzo said. “There’s a growing acceptance of people who don’t want to identify with a gender or are transitioning. It’s impossible to ignore. It will impact labeling, sizing and store floor plans.”
The report coins the term “squealing” for the megatrend of income disparity. “Companies with high wage gaps are thought to be cannibalizing their own consumer base if people who work for the company can’t afford its products,” DaVanzo said. The income disparity will create a glut of affordable luxury alongside product and pricing innovation. Examples: Technology that creates one pair of shoes with multiple looks for economic efficiency, and Pittsburgh retailer 76<100’s new pricing model that allows women to pay a percentage of an item’s price in line with salary inequalities.
Lilly Berelovich, cofounder, owner and chief innovation officer of trend-tracking and forecasting firm Fashion Snoops, said the megatrend of oneness and empathy shows that consumers are no longer willing to disassociate what they wear with who made it. April’s #fashrev event, which asked, “Who made my clothes?” had participants from 75 countries. “There’s so much bad publicity about how clothes are made and the impact of fast fashion on the world,” Berelovich said. “Now, looking cool is having empathy and making a difference.”
The longevity megatrend was illustrated by Dolce & Gabbana’s fall 2015 ad campaign “Viva La Mamma,” which featured a wide range of models spanning several generations. Joan Didion, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young were featured by Celine, Saint Laurent and Supreme, respectively, while 86-year-old social media star Baddie Winkle appeared in ads for Dimepiece. By 2030, there will be 72.1 million seniors in the U.S., more than double the number in 2000.
Also covered in the report were tangible and intangible, a megatrend centered on gesture technology such as gaze-activated fabrics and the new semantics, which dealt with visual communication such as emojis and symbolism replacing words. Symbolism is prevalent in streetwear brands such as Hood by Air and KTZ, Berelovich said, adding that the fashion industry has dubbed the genre “LOL-core.”