BAHAR SHAHPAR (DESIGNER, FASHION CONSULTANT)
2012 was about breaking down, and 2013 will be the beginning of building back up.
This year we were battered by drought, hurricanes, and Frankenstorms, and this barrage of weather events has brought climate change out of our distant future and into our here and very now. We're experiencing the immediate impact it can have not just on our environment but on both big business and individual livelihoods, so denial isn't an option anymore.
"Eco" is going to become more practical and less philosophical. Instead of working from strategies and commitments, more brands will move towards assessing sustainability from the first part of production: the design process. Moving away from carbon footprint, we're going to focus on clean water issues, so we'll see more innovations like AirDye's
waterless dyeing and Levi's "Water<Less" collection
. As multinational corporations like H&M and Puma take on issues of waste management with recycling and remanufacturing projects, the concept of zero waste, first explored by pioneers like Tara St. James, Timo Rissanen, Holly McQuillan, and Marcia Patmos will finally start to be accepted as more than a niche idea and come into the mainstream.
As sustainability moves away from being a banner cause into a practical concern, there will be a much larger demand for authentication, life-cycle analysis, and transparency, which hopefully means we'll see the initial development of a consumer labeling system, following in the footsteps of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition's Higg Index
launch this past year.
We'll continue to see innovation in fabric technology, particularly with recycled polyesters and nylons but what is most markedly evolving is our thinking. We'll start embracing dematerialization and collaborative consumption as creative solutions, as well.
But what I'm personally most excited about for this next year is the return of manufacturing to domestic shores. As labor costs are (thankfully) rising, offshore production isn't the panacea it once seemed to be. Heritage brands have now regained their foothold in our cultural landscape, and "made in the U.S.A." is becoming a valuable commodity again.