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3 Trends to expect in 2023 directly influenced by the evolving world around us

By Rachel Douglass


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Eastpak x A-Cold-Wall collaboration. Image: Eastpak
In the aftermath of the pandemic, and among a slew of other natural disasters, the world is rapidly waking up to the need to adapt and adjust in order to continue persevering. Not only that, but a shift can also be seen in consumer sentiments, in behavioural adaptations that will slowly be mirrored throughout the fashion industry as a whole. Based on research by WGSN, and information shared with FashionUnited by a member of the forecasting agency, there are three defining trends to look out for in the coming year that lean into this newly formed survivalist mindset and all the society-driven aspects it links to.

Modular clothing

Nike ISPA Link. Image: Nike
For WGSN, convertible clothing and modular garments were a prominent factor in its report, features linked to both travel and sports performance, two lifestyle characteristics definitive of the evolving mindset. One of the organisation’s primary focuses was the interchangeable sneaker, which it said would transform the typical trainer into an outdoor-ready item with accessible versatility. It also emphasised this feature within clothing, making garments baggage-friendly with multiple-end uses, providing items that are easier to pack on-the-go. The report suggested pieces like cargo pants that double as swim shorts or flip-flops that transform into boots. These multifunctional designs aim to offer shoppers both versatility and value for money, especially during times when consumers are increasingly strapped for cash.

The new utility wear

Eastpak x A-Cold-Wall bag collaboration. Image: Eastpak
Like the trend prior, WGSN’s take on utility wear is also centred around performance attributes and modular design. For utility, however, the concept has been elevated for the luxury market. It combines both the recovery of post-pandemic travel and the backdrop of global uncertainty and unpredictability in weather, pushing a survivalist lifestyle that has brought protective design to the mainstream. The trend is characterised by technical features that enhance the safety of a garment, such as quick-release buckles and rip-proof materials. WGSN further noted that this shift has also impacted small luxury leather goods businesses, which it said had been experimenting with the theme through items like belt bags.

Algae alternatives

The algae-based midsole from Lane Eight. Image: Lane Eight
As the world frantically searches for more eco-friendly production methods, the use of natural ingredients has naturally begun to surge as they prove to be valuable in this area. Renewable algae is a material that WGSN reckons will be increasingly relied upon in the creation of lower-impact fibres, foams and fabrics. The organism needs light, CO2 and water to swiftly grow, and comes with features that allow it to replace oil-based options for products like shoes. For clothing, the organisation said algae is emerging as “an alternative to resource-intensive synthetics”, like nylon, with many brands already using the ingredient in pilot programmes. “Expect algae to bloom in fashion in 2023 and beyond,” WGSN concluded.
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