1. Summer Rayne Oakes (Source4Style)
2. Leslie Hoffman (Earth Pledge)
3. Safia Minney (People Tree)
4. Sarah Scaturro (Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum)
5. Jeff Garner (Prophetik)
6. Natalie Chanin (Alabama Chanin)
7. Carrie Parry
8. Karen Stewart and Howard Brown (Stewart + Brown)
10. John Patrick (Organic)
11. Meiling Chen
12. Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart (Vaute Couture)
13. Justina Blakeney
14. Ella T. Gorgla (I-ELLA)
15. Zem Joaquin (Ecofabulous)
16. Syuzi Pakhchyan (Fashioning Technology)
17. Brad Bennett (Well-Spent)
18. Amy DuFault (EcoSalon)
19. Starre Vartan (Eco-Chick)
20. Emma Grady (TreeHugger, Past Fashion Future)
21. Kate McGregor (KAIGHT)
22. Carmen Artigas (Fashion Institute of Technology)
SUMMER RAYNE OAKES (MODEL, AUTHOR, CO-FOUNDER OF SOURCE4STYLE)
A resurgence of local production pride (e.g., “Made in the U.S.A.,” “Made in the U.K.,” “Made in NYC”) takes shape but won’t materialize in major marketing campaigns until end of 2012.
SUMMER RAYNE OAKES (MODEL, AUTHOR, CO-FOUNDER OF SOURCE4STYLE)
LESLIE HOFFMAN (EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, EARTH PLEDGE)
Looking ahead will feel better than reflecting on where we’ve been, so here goes. Quality, quality, practicality. That’s what I think is becoming ever more important. To have less that is better, is better. To have what we need is imperative, but shed the rest. Dispense with trying to satisfy yourself through consumption. It’s surprising how much more satisfying it is to find (or just hang on to) the best pieces that truly take care of real needs. I expect indulgence to become ever more focused on quality rather than quantity.
Authenticity will become ever more appreciated. We might just be tired of being told, or led to, what is “good” or “right.” Let’s hope for more individual expression with conscience.
I think we might drift farther from wanting to acquire fashion, and there will be increasing interest in observing and appreciating the vision, the craft, and the statement that is being expressed by makers. High fashion will always have its buyers, but I think the 99 percent will drift farther from believing they need to acquire it in the conventional commercial exchange. It’s too frustrating to lust for the unattainable.
On the sustainability, or green, front – expect more options, offered by more designers and companies. But remember, they too are appealing to your desire to consume. More of us will get comfortable—and even enjoy—saying “no thank you.”
SAFIA MINNEY (FOUNDER, PEOPLE TREE)
Wearing my U.K. and Japan eco-fashion hats, I predict that adorning your body will become less important than the health of your body—and mind, for that matter. That’s why we’ll buy less new, we’ll buy more vintage, fair trade, and ethical.
After the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, awareness of eco-issues and ethical consumerism has exploded, enabling us to bring benefits to thousands more farmers and artisans for 2012. That feels great!
SARAH SCATURRO (TEXTILE CONSERVATOR, COOPER-HEWITT NATIONAL DESIGN MUSEUM)Over the past year I’ve noticed consumers veering away from purchasing clothing simply because it is made with environmental fibers and processes. Consumers now want a story. They want to know who made their garment, what makes it special, and how their purchase can have a positive social impact. In short, consumers want the human element. Embedded in your garment’s materiality is a personal narrative that can be teased out. The best designers not only understand this, they facilitate the telling of this story. Susan Cianciolo does this incredibly well, taking fabrics and garments that already have a meaningful history and reworking them, giving them new life so you can add your own imprint. Suno and Awamaki Lab are other examples of lines that center their mission around social elements. In 2011 the human element was most successfully shown through the IOU Project, which crucially realized that the missing link in telling the complete story is not the people who designed, made, or sold the garment but rather it is the person who wears it that breathes life into it. Their online platform visually links together everyone who has impacted the garment, weaving a unique narrative.
Sometimes the human element isn’t obvious, but it is definitely there. For Spring 2012, Titania Inglis mixed her cerebral designs with fabrics that were vegetable-dyed by Isa Rodrigues of the Textile Art Center using locally grown plants. You must rely on the human form to fully understand her clothing, and the hand-dyed fabrics will slowly shift with each wearing, rendering the body’s impression and passage of time visible.
Just as it’s impossible to remove the materiality from fashion, you cannot take out the human factor. It’s not enough to simply purchase clothing off the rack, wear it, and call it yours. For clothing to become truly yours you need to understand its history and then you need to add your own chapter to the story.
JEFF GARNER (DESIGNER, PROPHETIK)
Waves travel thousands of miles upon the Earth’s energy to crash once upon the shore and to choose that wave and ride that energy inspires the deep fire of passion.
The ocean is one thing man cannot tame and just as such the movement and energy of sustainable fashion is growing and in that more will freely jump on that wave sensing the natural untouched soulful energy.
Everyone desires a unique individual experience or expression whether in entertainment or in fashion. Romanticism will be dripping from the tongues of the masses. Voices will be heard. The future demands it.
NATALIE “ALABAMA” CHANIN (DESIGNER)
In the new year, we’ll see a marked joining between craft and fashion. This means the beginning of the end for fast fashion and a surge in the individual wielding creative power over their personal style, which cannot be dictated by any entity.
Everyone in 2012 (and moving forward) will embrace their individual style, feel comfortable in their own skin, and exercise their right to DIY. Watch as we all stretch the boundaries of fashion and embrace the future. Revolution!
CARRIE PARRY (DESIGNER)
We have the opportunity to positively effect workers and our environment throughout the world. With more tools available like the Eco Index, the Nike Environmental Apparel Design Tool, along with the formation of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, we’re seeing a huge global momentum within social responsibility.
Companies are beginning to see and be inspired by the benefits of broad industry participation and collaboration, slowly realizing that we are all working towards the same goal and that two minds are better than one. Degrees like Socially Responsible and Sustainable Apparel Business at the University of Delaware are ensuring that the future wave of industry professionals are knowledgeable and passionate about implementing social and environmental responsibility within the apparel industry.
Fabrics are now easier to source thanks to companies like Source4Style, which will surely inspire and encourage more designers to begin using ethical fabrics.
Social Responsibility can often be perceived as black and white, but that’s not the case. In fact, it’s very complicated. Transparency and accountability are leading the way and it is important for companies to integrate CSR throughout their entire supply chain. Without stakeholders understanding the complexities of implementing CSR within the supply chain, we face difficulties in improvement and problems in the face of working together.
By focusing on educating and engaging consumers and other stakeholders with two-way communication, we can take that leap forward together. People will begin to understand the true cost of clothing, make steps towards changing their purchasing and garment-care habits and we can start working together to create a more sustainable industry over the long term.
Education is the key, and I think 2012 will be a big step in moving in the right direction.
HOWARD BROWN AND KAREN STEWART (FOUNDERS, STEWART + BROWN)
The big brands will continue to dominate and gain market share while reinforcing the unsustainable notion that one can expect more (pieces) for less (money). Additionally, the flash-sale phenomenon will continue to prosper, perpetuating the frenzy over stuff no one wanted in the first place.
This will allow the big brands to continue their destructive ways, applying downward pressure on costing, which results in cutting corners on quality and exploitation for the supply-chain stakeholders, the workers, and the environment. More small brands and mom-and-pop retailers will go out of business because they cannot compete.
Conscientious consumers, who continue to be fed up with the mass-market mentality, will continue to buy less (pieces) and expect more (quality) in their purchasing. More and more people on the periphery will feel the same way. This will help the sustainable fashion revolution to prosper as there will be more customers, willing to pay for sustainably manufactured designs, for all of us to share.
There is no doubt the sustainable fashion revolution is in full swing in the collegiate ranks. Legions of smart, educated, style-conscious citizens are stepping up to the challenge to design and consume sustainably. They are educating their peers and demanding brands produce responsibly. Hopefully, they can find jobs, while the entrepreneurs among them will create companies, to participate in reshaping our societal values and paving the way forward to a sustainable future.
GRETCHEN JONES (DESIGNER)
I believe the continued transparency and educated disclosure from creative to consumer, while balancing aesthetic taste-making (in and outside of conscientious design) is the only way ethical fashion can progress healthily in the coming year.
My aim is to design first, integrating economic and material-based conscious decisions where fitting. In 2012, I aim to continue creating investment-worthy identity pieces that are distinct, yet versatile. Which, in my opinion, is the essence behind ethical design.
JOHN PATRICK (DESIGNER, ORGANIC)
Pure and unadulterated beauty is my focus for 2012 and handmade work being at the center of this. Elaborate surfaces and treatments all touched by human hands speak to me now stronger than than ever…an obsession with natural beauty.
MEILING CHEN (DESIGNER)
The upheavals of 2011 in many ways point to positive changes and important topics for reflection as we seek to improve the world. The desire to connect with nature and with our inner well-being will only get stronger in 2012.People, during this period, will be increasingly drawn to handmade objects, to neutral earth tones and colors from nature; and they will continue to seek long-lasting quality materials and products.
Designers and artisans will continue to draw inspiration from exotic, undiscovered cultures and from traditional hand-crafting skills and techniques.
We may see many inventive mixes of modern and aboriginal traditions in the creation of colors, print patterns, styles and textiles, all playing a role in 2012 as novelties in home fashion and clothing.
There is also an increasingly perceived need to feel comfortable and safe. This feeling expresses itself in the way we consume, as well as in our daily interaction with each other. And comfortable clothing represents an extension of a comfortable home and of a comfortable rapport with nature.
LEANNE MAI-LY HILGART (DESIGNER, VAUTE COUTURE)
I’ve been vegan for over 11 years and into animal rights since 1990. It’s fascinating to observe and experience a movement grow over two decades from when soy milk was an “ethnic” food we could only get at the Chinese grocery store to Coach promoting an all-vegan handbag on Ellen.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve loved seeing “vegan” shift with such velocity from a dirty word to something more people aspire to incorporate habits of into their life, akin in some ways to recycling or buying from independent local businesses, as more learn the benefits to the Earth and their health, as well as the truth about how animals are treated and killed for food and fashion.
And so, for 2012, I’m bracing myself, prepared to be blown away this year by how many more non-vegan companies will be creating vegan products and how many new vegan products and companies will enter the market, including in fashion.
For my label, Vaute Couture, it’s going to be a very big year as we are simultaneously opening our first flagship boutique and headquarters in Brooklyn, hiring some much needed staff, and entering wholesale so that we can bring ethical outerwear to the mainstream. I’m so excited to see what this year holds for animals and how much we can all do together to ignite more-compassionate living.
JUSTINA BLAKENEY (DESIGNER)
After a year of rebellions and occupations, my tarot cards see a major corporate backlash in 2012. Sick of uniformity, toxicity and greed, trendsetters and followers opt for labelless, handmade, and vintage. Consumers and fashionistas shop locally and sparingly, and quality trumps quantity. The masses flock to the Web to buy fashion, creating a more equal playing field for smaller businesses and web-savvy artisans.
Organic and recycled fabrics become more mainstream but so do greenwashing and abuse of “fair trade” and “eco-friendly” labels. Feel-good companies like TOMS and Warby Parker become business models for many other companies.
Stylistically, I see the big labels taking themes of 99 percent DIY aesthetic and street art and applying that look to their collections, with a nod to Middle Eastern and North African patterns, palates, and silhouettes.
ELLA T. GORGLA (FOUNDER, I-ELLA)
This whole idea of recycling your closet will be at the forefront of women’s mind at the point of purchase. That once-in-a-lifetime dress, killer pumps and must-have bag will be bought guilt-free because more and more women will subscribe to a rather simple motto: “wear it, then share it.” Your clothes as currency, your clothes as that mass weapon of environmental waste (and reduction)—these two ideologies will play a more prominent role in why we buy and more importantly, the sharing of our closets.
At I-ELLA, everyday we encourage our 55,000-plus members to sell, lend, and swap designer, vintage, and indie brands straight from their closets. And they do.
ZEM JOAQUIN (PUBLISHER, ECOFABULOUS)
1. I predict you will see people flaunting their grope-eliciting faux fur frocks made from recycled soda bottles, like these made in Japan.
2. I predict that we will see our first Cradle to Cradle-certifiedapparel. We will know where it comes from and what will happen to it in the future.
3. I predict that many more designers will enter Suzy Cameron’s (James’ wife) “Red Carpet Green Dress” design challenge and many more will learn what to look for when they design collections.
4. I predict that eBay will launch a “green box” program that will simplify and inspire sellers and buyers to rethink shipping possibilities.
5. I predict that Levi’s will continue to dramatically expand its Better Cotton initiative, with more companies joining its conscious commitment to help growers be better stewards of the land and water while giving them the respect they deserve.
SYUZI PAKHCHYAN (FOUNDER, FASHIONING TECHNOLOGY)
In 2011, mainstream fashion houses got all tech-struck and enamored with the laser cutter. Pixel-perfect laser-cut lace was celebrated in many designer collections. And even non-jet-setters were offered everything from perforated leather shoes to delicately scalloped swimsuits on fast-fashion sites such as ASOS.
So what will be the digital darling of 2012 that could possibly dethrone the laser cutter of all its commercial glory?
Me? I’m putting all my eggs in the 3D-printing basket. Yup—there I said it—cached now forever in Internet history. And yes it’s a colossal gamble but I’m not playing this hand blind.
To date, Pauline van Dongen’s tortuous architectural heels makes me swoon, partly for its sheer mathematically complex beauty and partly because of its techno-utopian promise of a sustainable fashion future.
Three-dimensionally printed wearables offer us a new production model that focuses on affordable niche, local production. Digital files created in Moscow can be downloaded by a “fab lab” in Los Angeles and customized on site. Design globally, produce locally, made-to-order pieces—that is the promise of 3D-printing technologies.
In 2012, I foresee more designers pushing the capabilities of 3D printers to produce wearable goods. They will predominately remain on the runway but with the heavier weight of larger design houses, 3D-printing technologies will be machined, manipulated, and transformed to be more suited to printing garments that drape like textiles and sculptural heels that you can actually walk in.
Even if the 3D printer doesn’t quite usurp the laser cutter, it will definitely be fashion’s 2012 muse.
BRAD BENNETT (PUBLISHER, WELL-SPENT)
While terms like “eco,” “organic,” and “low-impact” have been politicized by special interests and used to drive yet another wedge between the two sides of this country, one “green” concept that has gained some wider appeal over the last year is buying American. It’s (so far) the only responsible choice that everyone—Republican, Democrat, city, rural—seems to be able to get behind.
Couple that with the rapid growth of China’s middle class, and subsequent demand for higher wages, and it’s looking like 2012 might actually be a good year for the American garment industry. There might actually be some jobs again, and Americans might be able to afford to buy the things they make.
My only hope, is that if or when these businesses return, they will be run in a more responsible way than before (alternative energy sources, better waste disposal, etc). For that to happen, however, they’re going to need access to credit, as earth-friendly-ing one’s operations is a major investment.
Whether or not that credit will be available will depend largely on who we elect president in November. So please, make sure you vote.
AMY DUFAULT (MANAGING EDITOR, ECOSALON)
Former Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar editor Diana Vreeland once said: “Fashion always takes place. Fashion is always there. Pestilence, death, economic crises—nothing affects fashion. Fashion goes right on. Women will always ornament themselves.”
With that in mind, and moving forward with the idea that we are going to embrace fashion regardless of the fact that it’s a wasteful and very complicated industry, my prediction is that we as a society will continue to take baby steps in understanding that while we will forever ornament ourselves, we need to look at dressing ourselves differently. Leading a conscious life can absolutely start with the clothes we wear.
Over the course of this past year, I’ve had numerous sustainable and indie designers call on me for advice on how to survive as a business and for the first time ever, I have had to honestly say, “I don’t know. I’m not sure people are ready for you.”
Not that they can’t exist as a business, but maybe it’s time to start thinking about collaborating under one label or under a mainstream label that needs to be more educated about sustainable design.
You might imagine that advice doesn’t go over well but for many; this has become a considered option of continuing on as a designer or inevitably, to becoming a waitress again. For now, it seems unless proper funding is in place to pad the patient designer, they will fold as they can only go so deep into debt.
At the same time, I see the trend of fast fashion slowly (very slowly) waning as more well-researched stories are published on it and mainstream consumers can see in a new light just what the implications of fast fashion are.
I hope in my heart of hearts that we are good humans who want to support fair trade, women’s rights, and smaller carbon footprints and not slave labor and catastrophic environmental degradation. That we can garner a conscience and even a little more creativity in how we present ourselves to the world clad in our personal, daily costumes. That despite the world going to hell in a hand basket, there is always the drumming of a band of young men and women designers, artists of the cloth, who want to make a difference as to how those clothes make it to you, how they make an impression on you, and that you accept and support them.
Fingers crossed (again).
I have tons of optimism for the coming year. After 2011, which was a huge challenge for most people (including myself), I think designers are going to make some bold moves this coming year. New sustainable textiles, which continue to be introduced on a regular basis, will give creative types more freedom, and I see many people getting in on the idea of working with fabric, from painters to jewelry designers to musicians. And maybe even writers! I’ve long stood on the sidelines and watched designers work their magic, and I know I can’t be the only one who wants to try their hand, even if just in a small, personal way. I have a fabric-design project I’m dying to jump into!
Customizable clothes, like Franklin + Gower’s, and one-of-a-kind pieces will continue to be coveted by those who care about the story behind their clothes. I think we’ll see many more partnerships and collaborations between high and low and suffusions of sustainable style into the mainstream (like all the amazing cloth totes that stylish women—and men—are carrying instead of “It” bags as recently covered by the New York Times).
I see 2012 as a much brighter, even more pattern-filled, and sweet year than the one we are leaving behind.
EMMA GRADY (WRITER, TREEHUGGER; PUBLISHER, PAST FASHION FUTURE)
2012 is all about digital. With the rise of digital publishing and social-media platforms, we will see a range of exciting multimedia content produced for the web as well as for everything from magazine iPad apps to mobile apps.
We will see additional platforms for buying and selling vintage and secondhand fashion, a growing number of Web boutiques dedicated to ethical fashion, and more appealing, user-friendly mobile apps that will help navigate the eco-fashion and vintage fashion worlds both physically and virtually.
On the fashion-sourcing front, Source4Style will make it easier for designers to source materials by connecting them directly with suppliers via an online sourcing marketplace—the impact of this for designers could be great.
And if I could have a New Year’s wish for 2012 it would be to see an industry-wide shift away from fast fashion and careless consumption and, in its place, a trend toward investing in quality pieces—including items already in your closet—that can last a lifetime.
KATE MCGREGOR (PROPRIETOR, KAIGHT)I’m really excited to see more color for spring. KAIGHT will be featuring a lot of classic silhouettes in bolder and brighter hues. Expect to see beautiful tangerine and orange-red hues, as well as softer pastels. Spring is also going to be very feminine and playful with lots of terrific prints.
CARMEN ARTIGAS (PROFESSOR, FASHION INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY)
I believe the future of fashion resides in a total transition towards sustainable practices that take into account fair labor standards and our precious resources.
1. A boost in the number of big brand names incorporating environmental considerations through product life-cycle analysis and displaying these in a transparent way, while benchmarking and monitoring their environmental progress.
4. A rise in “crowdsourcing” will advance lean manufacturing and lean inventory principles by identifying and eliminating waste through continuous improvement and by flowing the product at the demand of the consumer.
5. An increase in social enterprises that address a social objective, such as The Supply Change, that are formed to alleviate extreme poverty by connecting artisans in developing economies to the global marketplace.
6. A big move towards restoring local production and promoting “Made in the U.S.A.,” that encompasses high-quality standards and promoting true craftsmanship.
7. The conversation in the industry will continue towards defining an ethical fashion criteria so we can all speak the same language and share the same goals towards manufacturing and consuming responsibly.
Artigas’s ethical fashion course (SUS 012 55A) begins at FIT on Jan 4.