2020 was different from any other year and although it was very challenging, it opened doors for many new opportunities, innovations, and trends. Some of them originated years ago but some are almost exclusively owed to the unique past year.
Many brands used this opportunity to enhance and advance their business models and therefore, start stronger than ever in the new year with new goals and strategies. Let’s understand what we can expect in 2021:
1. Digital Skills & Innovations
The last year challenged the fashion industry in many different ways, one of them being customers not being able to physically shop in stores but having to order basically everything online. Online shopping created a huge advantage for fashion retailers and companies a few years ago but not all labels were prepared for losing almost all of their in-store sales in the last year. That’s why in 2021 most of them will focus on expanding their e-commerce retail and digital presence.
This can also be seen in the way trends are created and broadcasted nowadays. Livestreams and digital events are more and more implemented in the fashion industry. Many brands are already live-streaming their fashion shows and the Berlin Fashion Week and Milan Fashion Week men’s AW21 will partially be hosted digitally. Furthermore, we have fashion retailers making use of AR and VR to enhance experiences such as: online dressing rooms and virtual catwalks as seen by Asos.
This leads us to a key skill in the industry in 2021: advanced digital skills. From coming up with innovative technological ideas or knowing how to market to multiple generations that aren’t able to shop physically, technological skills will be what every company in the fashion industry will be looking for in the coming year.
Sustainability has been on the rise among younger generations for quite a few years now and with raised awareness comes great responsibility, for fashion retailers too. Companies are now using alternatives like vegan leather and trying to control climate change with the use of renewable energy and water-saving alternatives. Many brands will take this year to commit to changing their negative footprint on the planet. This year, H&M is launching a collaboration with Lee with the purpose of creating more sustainable denim and Fiorelli has launched a completely recycled collection. Also, Gucci completely changed its strategy in order to create a positive impact on the climate. Mass-production is being re-imagined, through technology and sustainable alternatives. If you are passionate about sustainability and want to help brands be part of the change, this year could hold a lot of opportunities for you.
Not only climate consciousness but also social consciousness is getting more significant this year. Customers nowadays want the brands they shop from to stand for something, to communicate and take action in what they stand for as a company. Especially during times of Covid, the health of employees is extremely important to many shoppers. Ethical consumption is as important as ever and customers are willing to pay the price. Already this January Marks & Spencer got together with The Coalition to End Forced Labour and stopped working with suppliers that were working with forced labor. Many brands and companies in the fashion industry can already be seen following this movement. Values and ethics are becoming important to consumers, therefor must be important to brands.
4. No labels
Since it has been known that more than half of Gen Z shops outside of clothing categories assigned to their gender many brands have come out with genderless and gender-fluid collections. According to Brigitte Chartrand, the Senior Director of Womenswear Buying at Ssense, a big shift is happening which can be seen in the casting of gender non–conforming models and combined runways for men’s and women’s wear. Leading retailers like H&M and Zara have already dabbled in genderless collections. Gucci dressed singer and actor Harry Styles in a dress, traditionally perceived as female clothing, for the Vogue December cover.
This was well received by the younger generation who wants to stray away from labels. It can be assumed that as long as the perception of gender is developing and blurring, clothing lines will get less and less ascribed to certain genders.
5. Flexibility & Decision Making
Especially important during times like these, the ability to be flexible and adapt to what is happening around you is essential. Whether it is a change in buying behavior due to a global pandemic or a complete change of tasks in your job – adaptation is more necessary than ever. The year has proved that in order to be successful in the fashion industry nowadays, you need to have knowledge and abilities in different areas.
Also, the ability to make decisions quickly is needed in this day and age. In the case of an event or global emergency a brand, company, and employee needs to be able to make not only fast but also efficient and contemporary decisions.
6. Collaborations & Trends
Collaborations and fashion trends are something we can be excited about in 2021. The world is craving playfulness and lightness, this leads to some interesting collaborations. For example, the collaboration between Loewe and My neighbor Totoro gives us a fun touch in classic shapes. The collection consisting of sweatshirts, bags, and jackets plays with designs of the illustrated characters of the popular Japanese movie. Another exciting collaboration worth looking forward to in 2021 is Amina Muaddi x A$AP Rocky, which joins two different worlds. Just like the The North Face x Gucci collab, launched at the end of last year, however still very present and popular in the fashion and celebrity world right now.
Trends-wise, again we can expect playfulness and comfortable glamour. Think miniskirts as shown at Chanel and MiuMiu catwalks, Lingerie details as seen at Paco Rabanne and Balenciaga, oversized looks like the ones done by Louis Vuitton, and of course loungewear. Lots of different patterns and big cutouts are also worth looking into in 2021.
2021 has a lot in store for the fashion industry. Whether it is futuristic online dressing rooms or the long-awaited shift into sustainable and ethically produced fashion, it definitely won’t be a boring year. Thus, keep your eyes open for the different opportunities out there and work on your necessary skills!
Most importantly we hope to see one thing coming: Positivity. After 2020, this is the change we all would love to see the most in the coming year.