As the world battles events like the COVID-19 crisis and natural disasters brought on by the lack of care for the environment, consumers across the globe will be more likely to change the way they live, eat, entertain themselves, shop, and even the way they dress.
Here are some trends to help shape and re-define our style choices this 2021:
Conscious consumerism and ethical consumption
Fast fashion is out; conscious consumerism is in. It’s no secret that fast fashion has a long and deep history with forced labor and exploitation, as well as less than eco-friendly practices. The truth is that these fast fashion brands and companies often export their production abroad for the sake of their bottom line, and they take advantage of the fact that many developing nations don’t have efficient and adequate labor laws to protect the most vulnerable, and even when they do, they’re not always properly enforced.
In some cases, even minors are forced to work long hours under unsafe and unsanitary conditions just to provide for their families, with their own parents being forced to provide fake ID cards to make it appear that their children are of legal age. While fast fashion pieces are generally cheaper, they are built upon the backs of the most marginalized people in the world. And they tend to be flimsy and don’t last very long, either.
On a more domestic scale, consumers will be at the forefront of seeking accountability from companies whose vulnerable employees are experiencing the worst of COVID-19. With massive layoffs and reduced work hours, it’s people at the bottom of the chain, like sales assistants, garment workers, and other lower-paid employees that received the worst hits during the pandemic and the recession. As the cry for change continues to advance alongside the fight against labor exploitation, consumers will be more inclined to support corporations that will offer financial security and dignity for their most vulnerable employees.
A study found that half of the millennials would voluntarily lose half of their salary if it will help save the planet. This is the kind of paradigm shift that will also help drive changes in fashion trends, which involves a spike in interest in ethically-made and sourced clothing pieces. As the world contends with the more extreme effects of climate change, like wildfires, super typhoons, floods, and even pandemics, more consumers would be drawn to brands that have shown commitment for the care of the earth’s natural resources, and to find ways to re-home their pre-owned clothes.
There are experts that believe that our generation will get to see our own version of roaring ’20s post-prohibition maximalism, but that is a ways off since there is still no end in sight to the pandemic even with vaccines being rolled out across the globe. But for now, there will be a continued rise in minimalist styles, especially with the majority of employees still working from home. Trendy loungewear in different silhouettes and cuts, simple accessories like silicone or plastic bracelets that can be stacked together, and ’90s-inspired plain and oversized hoodies and joggers in pastel and earthy colors will be the uniform of employees who work from home.
Remote work and productivity
Speaking of remote work, the pervasiveness of the work-from-home setup will also help drive fashion trends. Ever since the lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders, most work-from-employees have had to look to fashion to help boost their productivity, motivation, and energy. This makes sense since studies show that how we look can greatly influence our mood and can help elevate our creative thinking.
We also know on some level that we’re treated better when we look good, so employees will be more inclined to dress up even if they can only be seen through Zoom calls. In a year when most people are working remotely, consumers will find ways to infuse their loungewear with their more stylish pieces to create the perfect blend of trendy but comfortable work-from-home outfits.
Living with the virus
Masks will continue to be a regular part of our everyday lives, with many fashion houses and retail brands taking advantage of this necessary trend. From Louis Vuitton to Ralph Lauren, many designers will continue to come up with matching sets (masks and hats, masks and scarves, etc.) for people to use as long as the virus rages on.
History has shown that societal changes will always dictate fashion and style. Brands would be smart to stay abreast of the cultural moment and gain a deep insight into consumers’ ever-evolving values and priorities if they want their products to stay relevant.