The future of sustainable fashion: 5 trends to transform the clothing industry in 2022

With 300,000 tonnes of clothing heading to landfill every year in the UK, it’s no surprise the fashion industry comes under fire for its negative impact on the planet.

For fashion lovers, it can be hard to know where to position our moral compasses – while fast-fashion brands are fanning the flames of over-consumerism, sustainable brands are still inaccessible for most people due to their much higher costs and fewer size options.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.

We’ve noticed some subtle changes in the way clothing brands are positioning themselves on the market recently, making sustainability a central aspect of their marketing. We predict that 2022 will see these small changes grow bigger and bigger, eventually becoming the new normal for the industry.

Here’s five trends to look out for in the clothing industry next year.

All aboard the rental train

Those of us with brothers or sisters are familiar with the concept of borrowing clothes from someone else’s wardrobe instead of buying a new outfit.

Some people are taking this to a whole new level, with clothing rentals becoming a new phenomenon amongst savvy fashion lovers. Some clothing brands are offering rentals directly, while others are utilising third party companies like Hurr, and social rental apps like By Rotation.

Renting an outfit is thought to be better for the environment than buying new, because you’re reusing something that already exists. With the added opportunity to monetise your wardrobe, it could encourage people to throw less away as well.

We can see more and more clothing companies offering rentals in 2022, particularly higher-end brands specialising in occasion-wear and items that are typically only worn once or twice.

Increased transparency

Lots of people have lost trust in the fashion industry over the years, and some brands are recognising that the only way to build it again is by being transparent about their environmental and social impact.

In 2022, we want to see brands going beyond surface level claims and really digging deep into their environmental footprint. We think increased transparency will become more important than ever, and consumers will want to know more about companies than just their core values.

Patagonia is an example of a clothing brand taking its carbon footprint and social activism seriously, and taking steps to become a more transparent company.

With pages on its website dedicated to its supply chain stories, environmental and social responsibility programs, and real data on its progress, Patagonia is leading the way for the clothing industry, keeping its customers properly informed at every step.

Rethinking influencer partnerships

Influencer marketing has been a huge development in the fashion industry over the past decade. With content creators, bloggers and celebrities transforming the social media scene, clothing companies who didn’t build strong influencer partnerships from the start have suffered.

Going forward, we can see fashion brands rethinking their relationships with influencers and Instagrammers – focusing on spreading the word of their environmental successes rather than just flogging clothes.

The influencer world isn’t just dominated by fashion and beauty lovers anymore, many people are using their platforms to raise awareness and fight social and environmental injustices. In the future, we can see some brands using this opportunity to help fund activism as well as promote clothes.

The rise of reselling

In a similar vein to the clothing rental trend, resale apps and websites have become hugely popular in recent years. While eBay paved the way for this kind of market, the likes of DepopVinted and Vestiaire Collective are on the rise for savvy fashion lovers and vintage bargain hunters alike.

Rather than throwing away their old clothes, consumers are taking to resale apps to sell their pre-loved items instead. By providing the opportunity for items to be worn and loved again and again, consumers are helping to create a more circular fashion economy.

Whether you’re looking for vintage fashion, a sold-out favourite, or just a bargain – shopping second-hand is a great way to add to your wardrobe without the environmental impact of buying new, and we predict more and more people will be taking this approach in the coming years.

Buy less, spend more

While the concept of a capsule wardrobe isn’t exactly new, the idea that clothing brands might actually promote it is a fairly novel one. While fast fashion brands seem to encourage a more trend-led “throw-away” culture, some of the mid-level to high-end labels are going in the opposite direction.

If you’re not familiar, a capsule wardrobe is a term that came about in the 1940s, and it describes a wardrobe that consists of a small selection of good quality items that can be mixed and matched together. Usually a capsule wardrobe would feature a neutral colour palette and timeless styles, meaning they shouldn’t go in and out of fashion too often.

With consumers becoming warier of fast fashion brands and their more obvious promotions of over-consumerism (think big Black Friday discounts), it’s no surprise that some people are looking out for better quality items at higher price points – so they can buy it once and wear it forever.

This “buy less but spend more” trend is a bandwagon we can see more fashion brands jumping on in the coming years, to show that they’ve left fast-fashion and over-consumerism in the past in exchange for a more sustainable future.

 

If you’re a fashion brand making big advancements to your environmental and social policies, and you need some creative ideas to bring them to life for your customers – let’s chat. Take a look at our website and get in touch to find out more.

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