TREND: Well Fashion Way Beyond Athleisure

Sustainable and “Trashy” Clothing

You might say that after years of talk, something real is happening: A mountain of surveys and stats confirm that the shift to sustainable, ethical fashion brands and a new interest in “well fashion” is underway.

The clearest window into trends is social media, where billions of people post and search, and global fashion search platform Lyst reported a 47 percent growth in sustainability-focused fashion keywords in 2018—and “sustainable fashion” made Pinterest’s top social trends for 2019.

The future is natural fibers that are sustainably sourced, such as silk, linen, organic cotton, wool, flax, hemp and alpaca, and semisynthetic and cellulosic fibers, such as modal, rayon, Tencel, lyocell and cupro, that involve “man-making” but break down easier.

But there’s so much radical innovation in sustainable materials happening.

A small army of companies is crafting clothing from zero-waste, hyper-renewable algae. Israeli-based Algalife turns algae into fibers and dyes, and the fabrics are also designed to improve and protect skin, as proteins, vitamins and anti-inflammatories are naturally released by algae-immersed fabric. AlgiKnit crafts yarns from algae for use in clothes and shoes. Vivobarefoot created the Ultra III Bloom running shoes made from algae, sourced from destructive algal blooms in waterways that release toxic chemicals. Each Vivo pair prevents 40 balloons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere. There’s fungi fashion, such as MycoTEX, who, with Utrecht University, is pioneering custom-made clothes fashioned from decomposable mushroom roots. Another pack of pioneers, such as Agraloop, is making textiles out of food crop leftovers, creating biofibers from things, such as banana and pineapple, whose fabrics are slated for collaborations with heavy-hitter fashion brands. Reebok’s new Cotton +Corn trainers fashion their soles from a long-wearing corn derivative.

“Trashy” Clothes: Call it “trashion,” or waste-makes-taste, recycling all kinds of garbage into trendy new clothing, accessories and shoes is everywhere. Patagonia is a pioneer and has been making fleece jackets using polyester made out of recycled bottles for 25 years.

Start-up Aday uses recycled plastic to make its futuristic clothes (one jacket is made from 41 reconstituted water bottles). Everlane is launching a line called ReNew made entirely from millions of recycled water bottles; Chilean brand Novedades creates luxury fashion from plastic bags; Rothy shoes are made from 100 percent-recycled bottles; and Spain’s Ecoalf creates clothes and shoes from algae and recycled plastic as part of its Upcycling the Oceans collection.

Other “trashy” fashion includes transforming ocean waste (whether plastics or discarded fishing nets) into regenerative materials: brands, such as Adidas, Stella McCartney, Riley Studio and Gucci, are partnering with activists, such as Parley for the Oceans, that turn ocean garbage into amazing materials, such as Econyl. Indosole turns discarded tires in Indonesia into a whole shoe line, and Amsterdam’s Gumdrop, who says 3.3 million pounds of gum end up on that city’s streets every year, “chews” that discarded gum into a new kind of rubber for shoes with fashion brand Explicit.

The future of fashion is re-thinking every touch-point in the cycle: from how our clothes are designed, made, cared for, experienced and disposed of. Every point in the process has been broken, and the fashion industry has been a huge force in destroying the planet. But the rejection of fast fashion is now happening fast, and a more “well” fashion market and mindset is being born. It’s one of the most impactful wellness trends we’ve ever seen.

Forecasting The Future

  • The future is a new intersection between “wellness” and “fashion” that goes way beyond the familiar story of athleisure disrupting the market. One key aspect is a consumer shift to sustainable brands, which a mountain of surveys and stats confirm is truly underway.
  • People are getting real and taking a hard look at their own fashion consumption behavior—with more people starting to wear their environmental values (literally) on their sleeve.
  • New technologies will make possible a new generation of sustainable, “clean” materials.
  • This will be the year that more people trade in the addictive endorphins of manic fashion consumption for the serotonin (true happiness) of choosing clothes that are not only sustainable but also ethical, actively healing and meaningful.



This is an excerpt from the TRENDIUM, a bi-weekly communication exploring the wellness trends identified in the Global Wellness Trends Reports.
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