What’s in store for fashion in the coming decade?

Some fashion experts have gone beyond predictions for this year and begun projecting trends they think will last well into the 2020s. When you’re in a business that begins planning its next big launch a year or more in advance, such bionic vision is a necessity not a nicety.

The 10-year forecast includes the following big trends: multi-functional, eco-conscious, gender-inclusive and adaptive. We dive into all four below.

Convertible pieces have long been popular with frequent travelers. Peering into the future, it looks as though multi-functional pieces will be worn by a more typical crowd for everyday occasions.

According to The Zoe Report, Laura Yiannakou, Senior Editor of Womenswear at trend forecasting company WGSN, makes this bold prediction about the trend: “Adjustability, modularity, and reversibility will reshape the fashion landscape in 2020 and beyond.”

Sustainable fashion is no longer a segment of the fashion industry but rather a necessary component for any competitive brand with a long-term view. Experts say the eco-fashion trend will continue but become so normalized that it will no longer be identified as such. As model, entrepreneur and author Summer Rayne Oakes puts it:

One day we’ll wake up and Green will not be the new black; it will be the new invisible. Meaning, no longer will sustainable be … something that’s considered au courant; instead it will be a matter of course—something that all designers incorporate into their design ethos.”—(Style, Naturally, Summer Rayne Oakes)

Consumers’ thirst for all things green has indeed grown since Ms. Oakes’ book was published over 12 years ago. One could argue that her vision for the fashion industry has come true—in some new and unexpected ways.

According to a recent article from Business of Fashion by Sarah Kent, resource scarcity, extreme weather events and consumer pressure are all driving a macro trend in fashion toward sustainability. Citing a newly released report, Kent notes “nine out of ten Generation Z* consumers believe companies have a responsibility to address environment and social issues.” Since Gen Z is the largest age group in the U.S.—representing over 90 million individuals—these concerns are likely to influence the fashion industry long into the future.

*born between 1997 and 2012

What surprises some is the degree to which designers’ environmental considerations have actually led to more creative work rather than less. Steff Yotka of Vogue spotlights in particular “the painstaking upcycling of Marine Serre and Rentrayage [and] the new material technology of Stella McCartney and Alyx.”

A Rentrayage dress made from discarded vintage pieces—Spring 2020 collection
A Rentrayage dress made from discarded vintage pieces—Spring 2020 collection

Another prevalent fashion trend will be away from gender-conforming to more fluid styles. As clothing company GFW (short for Gender Free World) explains their gender-neutral line: “Our shirts are designed to fit your body rather than your gender. It’s that simple.”

This look by JW Anderson is one of many from his Spring 2020 RTW collection that can be worn by male, female and non-binary fashionistas alike.
A menswear-inspired suit from Gucci’s Pre-fall 2020 women’s collection.
[Photo: GFW]

Recent years have brought a dramatic uptick in clothing that works on a wide range of bodies and people with differing abilities. This “adaptive fashion” trend—so dubbed because of its specialized features like magnetic snaps—has been driven in large part by designers who themselves have physical challenges and differences. However, many large retailers and brands—from Target to Tommy Hilfiger— are joining the adaptive movement in a big way.

According to Business of Fashion, referring to a recent report from Coresight Research, “The global adaptive fashion market is expected to hit $349.9 billion by 2023.” That’s billion with a “b.”

Actress and singer Ali Stroker accepts a Tony for her role in Oklahoma! last June.
[Photo: Theo Wargo, Getty Images]

Of course we all play a part in what’s coming next, setting trends as well as following them. How do you plan to use your passions and talents to set fashion trends over the next decade? Please share in the comments!

Cañada College Fashion Department does not endorse any particular company or product. Information and images shown here are for educational purposes only.