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8 Brand-building tips from Decoded Future’s Look Ahead 2020

By Jackie Mallon

22 Oct 2019


The cross-industry trend intelligence agency, Stylus, broke down trends in consumer shifts across 20+ industries at their annual NYC flagship event, the Decoded Summit, an event designed to promote education, networking and inspiration. FashionUnited compiled the important takeaways for brand builders everywhere.

Right to rebel

If 2019 was the year of the human, 2020 will be the year of action, as change making consumers realize this is not a drill and take matters into their own hands. From Brexit and Hong Kong protests to Extinction Rebellion, brands take note that young consumers are venting their anger and looking to brands which stand up with them, but no posers welcome. Tokyo-based designer, Takahiro Mayashita, known as The Soloist, has reached cult status after a Converse collaboration, but gains wider relevance for his transformable, packable pieces styled in dark layers, with hoods and balaclavas. New style tribes, reflected in the rise of brands like Black Weirdos, also from Ja[an, present modern interpretations of goth, grunge, emo, and punk in reaction to the unattainable perfection presented by the likes of the Kardashians.

Craftivism promotes the opportunity to change the world one stitch at a time. Stella McCartney’s alignment with Extinction Rebellion, the activist organization which has proposed canceling London Fashion Week and buying no new clothes for one year, is a provocative example of the new conversations that are happening.

Post Truth Economy

Consumers don’t know who to believe and have lost faith in government, politicians, religious leaders, and traditional policy makers empowering brands with built in purpose to stand out as leaders. The rise of tech companies such as Everledger and Canopy gives consumer back control at a time when data protection and detoxifying the internet are of primary concern.

Light-Impact Living

Consumers are also ready to take it upon themselves to minimize their climate impact, and brands which facilitate these efforts will lead. Retail app CoGo, short for connecting good, connects consumers with businesses that align with their ethical views. Adam Goswell’s tech innovations at Lush puts him at the forefront of eliminating product packaging and waste-free retailing. Teemill allows consumers to build their own T-shirt brand remanufacturing old T-shirts with new designs, and fashion tech start up, Save Your Wardrobe, uses Artificial Intelligence to digitize your wardrobe to aid consumers in streamlined sustainable living.

Rise of the Imperfectionists

Escaping the myth of perfect, consumers celebrate the grotesque and the radically imperfect in a new “ugly” trend which Gucci pioneered in its beauty advertising featuring Dani Miller. The darker dystopian mash-up has elevated Chernobyl to popular vacation destination and encompasses human waste as a manufacturing resource as seen in Shahar Livne’s bio-leather sneakers made with human blood or Cubitts sunglasses made from human hair.

Being Present

The desire to feel clutter-free and in touch with life in all its intimate, non digital glory is a trend led by Adidas whose recent Coachella event required attendees to leave devices at the door, You had to be there, is the modern message.


Brands catering to a series of diverse niches are finding success now that the term mass-market is falling out of favor. Tapping into specialized communities or consumers’ milestone life-moments, such as travel geared towards the newly-divorced or the menopausal is set to pollinate across all industries.

Modern Heritage

Modernizing nostalgic or artisanal practices and a focus on essential living is growing. Brands making efforts to counter past trends for planned obsolescence will lead, such as Panasonic’s promotion of electronics to cherish for life or Ikea’s Överallt which brings artisanal African made small batch furniture into contemporary living spaces. Last month Johannesburg-based womenswear designer Thebe Magugu became the first African ever to win the prestigious LVMH Prize.

Digital Utopia

As digital experiences will feel more real than ever, enhanced with 5G’s global 2020 launch, Amber Jae Slooten’s digital block chain dress which auctioned for 9500 dollars is an example of the future of tech and fashion. Outfits comprised of a foundational layer which you wear every day answers clothing’s need to provide warmth but when“worn” with a changing hologram on top provides the personal self-expression we associate with fashion while also questioning the need to make physical trend-driven garments which will contribute to landfill and the global climate crisis.

Fashion editor Jackie Mallon is also an educator and author of Silk for the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry.

Images FashionUnited

Decoded Future 2019
Trends 2020