In the last few years, the fashion industry has taken swift steps towards sustainability. A global pandemic, rampant wildfires, scandals of fast fashion companies and the rising awareness of the climate crisis have gradually left their (indelible) mark on us. For conscious consumers, fashion must not only look good, but also be good for the planet. Short-lived fashion trends are becoming less relevant, while sustainable fashion trends are gaining more and more traction. And with rapidly advancing climate tech, (sustainable) fashion is making steps forward every year. We at SANVT have researched sustainable fashion trends for 2022 and show you which trends will remain relevant for more than just one season.
But let’s clarify one thing right from the start: when we talk about sustainable fashion trends, we are not referring to specific cuts, colours, patterns or new style combinations that we have discovered on the catwalks of Fashion Weeks but rather to new production processes and revolutions in the fashion industry. It’s about long-term trends that can make the fashion world, our awareness and our consumption, more sustainable in the coming year and in the future.
Here are the most important sustainable fashion trends for 2022:
- Recyclable textiles
- Renting fashion
- Fashion on demand
- Local production
- Product Passports & Transparency
- Metaverse fashion
One of the biggest problems of the fashion industry is the throwaway approach to old clothes. The fast-changing collections of fast fashion companies and the low quality of their short-lived products have made fashion disposable over the last decades. Moreover, as our consumption patterns have roughly doubled since 2000, the fashion industry is now responsible for around 40 million tonnes of textile waste every year!
It’s therefore only natural that recyclable textiles represent a significant trend for sustainable fashion. After all, products made from biodegradable materials developed with recycling in mind can help limit raw material exploitation and reduce textile waste. In the long run, recyclable textiles could transform the fashion industry into a circular economy, making it much more sustainable and environmentally friendly!
Another trend that counteracts the acquisition of new clothes and disposable fashion is renting and sharing clothes. In recent years, more and more start-ups, apps and platforms have emerged to help consumers swap and borrow clothes. Similar to a library, one can borrow clothes for a limited period of time instead of buying something new.
For special occasions, the system definitely makes sense. And based on the demand and hype, it’s definitely a trend that will stick with us for years to come. However, the system of renting clothes is not quite as circular, climate-friendly and sustainable as it seems. You can read more about it here.
Fashion on demand
Another way to prevent the overproduction of clothes is to have your next fashion items produced on demand, instead of production in large quantities in advance. Numerous sustainable labels now launch their collections online and collect pre-orders over a certain period of time, and have the exact quantity produced on demand to prevent unnecessary textile waste. Logically, production costs increase when a product is made in small quantities. So, for this trend to be adopted, consumers will have to be willing to wait and pay a little bit more. After all, in such a fast-paced world, we are no longer used to having to wait for a product. But isn’t that what slow fashion is all about?
This trend is at this point a niche, and harder to deliver at scale (i.e. for large fashion brands). Nevertheless, fashion on demand is a trend that will increase in prominence in 2022 and the years to come.
Speaking of production, it is not only the “how”, but also the “where”. Ethical fashion should be both environmentally friendly and fair. At SANVT, we emphasise local production in family-owned companies in Portugal with fair payment. Local production in fair facilities not only guarantees ethical working conditions but also reduces transport and the associated CO2 emissions.
As a result of the pandemic, the global production standstill and logistical problems that came with it, local production has taken on a whole new significance. We therefore believe that sustainable fashion trends and local production will go hand in hand in the future.
Product Passports & Transparency
One of the most important aspects of sustainable fashion is maintaining transparency. As the number of sustainability initiatives in the fashion industry has increased, so has the number of greenwashing campaigns. But technologies such as blockchain or product passports allow production steps, initiatives, certifications and efforts to be traced and verified.
Product passports are basically a portfolio for storing and sharing product information that is relevant for both consumers and production partners. With this technology, counterfeits and greenwashing can be identified more effectively.
Probably the newest and wackiest phenomena that will significantly shape our future is the metaverse. Our work and our habits are increasingly happening in virtual spaces. It’s only a matter of time before we’ll have fully fledged virtual fashion, in addition to NFTs and games, to express ourselves in the metaverse. Nike even made its first bet in this space, by acquiring virtual shoe company RTFKT.
There are many sustainable fashion trends but virtual fashion is definitely one of the most intriguing technologies to make the fashion industry more sustainable. Despite the energy it requires, the production and use of virtual clothing is still far more environmentally friendly than the production of clothes, which requires raw materials, energy, water, dyes and CO2. And needless to say, there is no textile waste in virtual fashion. It is an exciting trend that will definitely shape our lives beyond fashion.
Sustainable fashion trends: Conclusion
When we look at what will make fashion special in 2022, we cannot help but hope that these are more than just trends. We believe that these sustainable trends are simply hints of what lies ahead for fashion’s long term future. And the sustainable fashion trends we highlighted here could be just the start of revolutionary movements designed to transform the fashion world in a sustainable and long-term way. Because the truth is: trends come and go, but sustainability is here to stay!
If you want to read more about the future of fashion, click here.