LUCY SIEGLE (AUTHOR; JOURNALIST, THE GUARDIAN; CO-FOUNDER, GREEN CARPET CHALLENGE)
2013 will see a continued examination of the supply chain of fashion. This will broaden from the fundamental materials and old stomping ground of the ethical campaigning sector, cotton, to look at other materials in more depth such as silk and leather which are important to the luxury sector. Luxury brands will make a more audacious play to own sustainability in supply chain and place themselves as problem solvers when it comes to the environmental impact of fashion.
If there is one legacy of the ghastly Tazreen factory fire that struck in Bangladesh on November 24, killing over 100 garment workers, it should be that the issue of labour rights will be revitalised for the first half of this year at least. News agencies in the U.S. and Canada have taken a big interest in this story and on the ground reporting has been strong. It should lead to a more thorough examination of the points in the garment supply chain that make factory deaths so probable.
All of the above creates a climate where local makers with a grip on their supply chain can capitalise. See as evidence the rise in hand-knitting, good-quality leather accessories where the story of the local producer, and a clean supply chain fosters nationalistic pride (i.e., handmade in the U.S.A.) and comforts the consumer.
Watch out for the emergence of new ethical fashion fighters. This is “radical fashion” from young wearers and producers who will perhaps be the first recent generation to shun fast fashion and bypass big brands or even big name designers. They’re not interested in reforming of high-street stores and designers because brands are dead to them. This could be very interesting indeed.
SUMMER RAYNE OAKES (MODEL, AUTHOR, CO-FOUNDER OF SOURCE4STYLE)
Smaller sustainable design brands will evolve in order to survive through sluggish, unpredictable retail times. Custom, made-to-order, private label, and specialty design will proliferate for those brands who choose to continue their collections.
Universities will step up their education game on sustainable sourcing. Tools like Source4Style are proliferating in the university sector, which helps inform next-generation designers on how to source more sustainably.
Brands are relying less on marketing and PR firms to communicate weak sustainability efforts. Instead, they will continue to seek out skilled material scientists and sustainability managers to deal with more complex supply-chain issues in order to stay competitive.
SASS BROWN (PROFESSOR, FASHION INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY; AUTHOR)
I think that 2013 will bring greater support for eco fashion in the luxury market, with more high-end designers working with ecological fabrications on an ongoing basis. There will be greater proliferation and access on the high-street to mass-market eco-fashion, with more brands jumping on the band wagon, more worthy undertakings, and more exposure of inequities in their supply chains.
The increased exposure and reach of activisitic campaigns, through the use of social media, will lead more people to practice conscious consumerism. The material connection to our clothing will be revalued, with more brands telling the stories around the makers of their clothing and the heritage of their fabrications, leading to a greater value in heritage craft skills, and increased partnerships between luxury brands and global artisanal groups.
YIFANG LI (SENIOR TOXICS CAMPAIGNER, GREENPEACE EAST ASIA)We predict an even greater shift in the way the industry produces our clothes. More and more brands will catch up with our “Detox” leaders such as Zara and Levi’s, realizing that “fashion without toxics” is a trend that simply cannot be ignored; In fact, it’s something that customers will demand.
In 2013, we will see the start of a transparency revolution: big brands—some who have recently committed to do so, such as Zara, Levi’s, and Mango—will start requiring their suppliers’ facilities to disclose discharge data. Giving customers and people who live at sites where our clothes are made the right to know what’s in their clothes and water will be essential to end toxic pollution. It also an essential step to achieve zero discharge of hazardous chemicals from the fashion industry by 2020.
If so many big brands can make credible commitments in 2012 – and we have 11 brands committing to Detox, then there is no excuse for the remaining big fashion brands to not follow their lead. Transparency in the way our clothes are made is essential and 2013 will be the years this happens.
LEANNE MAI-LY HILGART (DESIGNER, VAUTE COUTURE)
This is going to be a lucky year. An extra lucky year, I can feel it. So the world didn’t end, but as cheesy as this sounds, I think it’s just beginning in a new cycle of bringing things back to what’s important, as we may have gotten a little caught up in all that we can do and lost a little of what mattered most.
Every time there is an industrial revolution, we get a little taken by how fast and cheap something can be made, and lose the heart and love in making things, as well as in appreciating things we interact with, and most importantly, how those things are made and if the way we make them is good to others, to the earth, and creating quality.
As this lag has caused much frustration for many of us of mass-produced goods, some of us have felt the loud need to create and to interact. More computers means a deafening primal scream to be working with our hands, seeing each other face to face, and being out in the world, whether touching the earth or being surrounded by people in the subway focusing on little interactions. I believe business is moving towards a more balanced space of appreciation for handmade, for quality, for unique, for passion, for seeing each other in person, married beautifully with the gifts and efficiencies of technology, and in production that considers quality: quality of life for workers, for the Earth, and for the product.
I believe that after our society has figured out how to be more efficient and effective, we are now ready to go back to bring in the things we’ve lost from the previous era, namely quality, love, passion, and in-person interaction.
In fashion this means more pieces that feel like you: a more curated closet, with a blend of your favorite things from different eras, from different travels, from different looks, instead of just what’s in the latest magazines, or what’s on display at the mall. More people are making clothes, buying vintage, and buying handmade to create style that is one of their very own.
ELIZABETH CLINE (AUTHOR)
In 2013, shopping at fast fashion stores like H&M, Zara, and Target will start to carry the same stigma as eating at fast-food restaurants. Consumers have shown they’ve reached a breaking point with factory fires and human rights abuses in the developing world and with the loss of garment jobs in the United States (we will not soon forget that our Olympic uniforms were being outsourced to China).
What will make the growing anti-fast fashion sentiment stick is fatigue with the uniformity, lack of quality, and emptiness of buying cheap clothes. The thrill of getting a $10 top and tossing it out has lost its luster, and consumers are going to want much more from their wardrobes in 2013: We want to be engaged in the full life cycle of our clothes, rather than just blindly following trends.
Consumers will increasingly buy new less often, opting instead to support refashioned vintage, clothing swaps, and will work with a tailor or on their own sewing machine to customize their wardrobes. When they do buy new, they’ll look for cutting-edge new designers and brands who are rethinking the way we consume fashion and who focus on good fabrics and quality construction and original, timeless design.
Perhaps the biggest shift of all: The idea that buying cheap clothes makes you a smart consumer will at last fall out of favor. And consumers will start to view clothing as something worth investing in again. Budgeting for quality, ethically made clothing sold at a fair price will no longer be seen as elitist, it will be viewed as prioritizing the enormous role that clothing plays in our culture, economy, and personal lives.