The key pieces of fashion right now?  Clothes you’ll still want to wear (or sell) in five years

The key pieces of fashion right now? Clothes you’ll still want to wear (or sell) in five years

The key pieces of fashion right now?  Clothes you’ll still want to wear (or sell) in five years

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I suppose, in theory, sustainable fashion doesn’t have to have a look. After all, surely the main purpose of prioritizing ethics over aesthetics is that the design of clothes should not only be about the appearance, but the way they are made: the raw materials used, the industrial processes undergone, the people employed, the carbon footprint of transport. But in reality, it has a look. You can’t take aesthetics out of fashion. Sustainable fashion also has style rules. Just different.

Some of these are simple practicalities. The sequins, being mostly made with non-biodegradable fabrics, are prohibited for environmental reasons. If you spice up a shirt with decorative zippers or embellish it with beads or glued edges, you are making it much more difficult to recycle or usefully reuse the fabric. Therefore, the streamlined design is favored. Fabric dyeing is one of the most water-intensive elements in the production cycle of garments, so bright colors can be a red flag.

A lot of baggage has been layered on our idea of ​​what sustainable fashion is like: rough, textured fabrics that look more homely, less industrial, than shiny, whether they are or not; bamboo, birds, waves and other prints and motifs that celebrate nature; loose silhouettes, to avoid traffic holes in personal vanity; rough edges and textures to forgo problematic levels of bling.

But this is changing. With circularity now a cornerstone of traditional sustainability strategies, consumers and brands are looking at clothing through a new lens. Circularity is focusing on the longevity of a garment’s appeal and its value in the future resale market. This is a radical departure for the value system of an industry that has historically adored brand new heroes dressed up – preferably with labels and wrapped in fabric – and has tended to dismiss all clothes that are as irrelevant to the fashion conversation. already been worn.

Related: Boris Johnson hosts a champagne party to celebrate UK sustainable fashion

According to the British Fashion Council (BFC), a ten-year program for industrial change, to which the government has pledged £ 80 million in funding, is focused on “creating a world-leading circular fashion ecosystem in the UK” . At the announcement of the Downing Street program, Stephanie Phair, chairman of the BFC, presented a vision of “a city like Leeds, which has a rich history in manufacturing and textiles, maintaining its role as a key part of the fashion and textile industry. and an example of a circular city with reprocessing plants and main roads energized with retreat schemes ”.

Meanwhile, Love Island set the tone for a resale-fueled summer with eBay sponsorship as a clothing supplier for the series, and Dr Martens has partnered with fashion app Depop to provide a sales platform for refurbished footwear. According to a global report conducted by Thredup, with the resale market growing 11 times faster than traditional retail, brands like Valentino and Gucci are looking to partner with customers who have last season’s garments in their wardrobes through buy-back schemes. validated.

Circularity is anything but a magic bullet for the environmental problems of the fashion industry; Rental companies have faced criticism for the impact of transportation and cleaning involved when a dress is worn from one wearer to another every few days. But the most fundamental problem with circularity, from a sustainability standpoint, is both its biggest flaw and its biggest advantage: that circularity doesn’t try to stop fashion consumers’ purchases. Faced with the scale of the climate emergency, many activists believe that any policy that accommodates our desire to shop fuels the problem. But others argue that by providing a scratch for the itch of shopping, circularity offers a roadmap that consumers and brands can realistically be persuaded to follow.

While the environmental impact of fashion’s new focus on pre-worn clothing may be less than transparent, the impact on how we want to dress is clear. It is also dramatically different from the stereotypes that have dwelled on ethical fashion. The most desirable clothes now are those that will still look desirable in five years. This means dresses in black and white, rather than whatever the color of the season.

In other words, the most radical statement you can make with your outfit is to signal that you have chosen it not according to the whim of the fashion moment, but rather with a view to guaranteeing it a long and laborious life, in your wardrobe or someone else’s. other.

This week the September issues of the glossy magazines hit the newsstands, with their big revelation of the new look of the season. The key pieces for next autumn? White cotton shirts, tailored suits, knitted knitted dresses, black biker boots, tan leather belts and gold chain necklaces. Trends are like this last season; timelessness is hot right now.

Ralph Lauren, who built a luxury empire not on setting trends but on a solid vision of Manhattan’s timeless style, is one of several established brands that are now at the forefront of fashion. Its preppy classics from the 80s and proto-streetwear from the 90s are very popular with Gen Z consumers who have made the brand one of the most sought after names in pre-loved fashion. Devon Leahy, head of sustainability at Ralph Lauren, recently told Vogue Business that “timeless design” is the key to sustainability, thanks to its power to future-proof the opportunity of the clothes made. Leahy sees an increase in circularity, which will likely include brands taking a percentage of resale profits in exchange for authentication, as an important step towards separating the financial growth that companies still rely on from the heavy carbon footprint of manufacturing. new clothes.

The most avant-garde fashion of the moment doesn’t seem radical at all. Establishment classics are the new avant-gardes, because the aspirational image most aligned with the zeitgeist is one that does not follow a cycle of trends. From jeans and rugged biker boots to striped cotton shirts and simple tailoring, from cotton sundresses to gabardine raincoats, the timeless is back on the warm seat. The new look? Old school classics, played over and over.

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