Apparel Design of Future: 2021 Diversity and Sustainability

As customers’ real lives become increasingly intertwined with the digital world, many designers and brands must embrace the latest technologies to push the limits of manufacturing, production, marketing and wearability. From the latest in artificial intelligence to the boom of mobile commerce, 3D printing and blockchain, we’ve rounded some of the suitability factors being used in fashion today.

Sustainable fashion is an all-inclusive term used to describe products, processes, activities, and actors (policymakers, brands, consumers) aiming to achieve a carbon-neutral fashion industry built on equality, social justice, animal welfare, and ecological integrity. Next-Gen Sustainable Materials To Follow Alt Protein, Become $2.2 Billion Industry By 2026, Predicts New Report

一張含有 個人 的圖片


We used to buy into designers’ aspirational worlds, but now we buy into their aspirational actions.

Andrew Groves, menswear specialist and professor of fashion design at London’s University of Westminster. vogue business

The Next New Normal, diving into the new design of the future, some brands design and manufacturers offer a glimpse of sustainable fashion’s future. What sustainability practices win consumers and buyers over? Fashion brands to play a vital role in next-gen material adoption . Here are some key pathways to the future products in 2021:

1. Design for Reducing carbon, developing new garment and materials

According to a recent study by McKinsey & Company, 67 per cent of consumers consider the use of sustainable materials an important factor when it comes to purchase decisions, and sporting goods brands lifted net new sustainable products available from 18,000 in 2012 to 72,000 in 2020. Natural materials have strong potential for growth within that landscape, as McKinsey says consumers are looking for brands that meet current needs without jeopardising the needs of future generations. Limitations persist. Despite branding the collection as natural, All Birds products still include some synthetics, including recycled nylon, which co-founder Tim Brown says is necessary to achieve “a level of stretch and recovery on par with leading synthetic materials”. Natural fibres also absorb more moisture than synthetics, becoming heavy and take longer to dry, but if successful, could satisfy the growing demand for sustainable materials. “Most activewear relies on off-the-rack plastics made from oil, like polyester,” which he notes is responsible for emitting nearly 700 million tonnes of carbon annually. “Those plastic-based materials can only ever be less bad but natural materials carry the potential to become carbon sinks through supply chain innovations like regenerative agriculture.”

The North Face recently collaborated with Spinnova, who creates fibres from cellulose, hoping to replace its current insulation fibres by fiscal 2023 and roll out products made entirely from Spinnova fibres within the next five years. This comes off the back of Spinnova’s experimental partnership with Bergans of Norway, which produced a backpack, shirt and anorak that are recyclable as new products and designed for circularity — even down to the way consumers purchase the products (one can be traded for another).

2. Renewably Sourced Materials to Help Replace Petrochemicals in Apparel

With Genomatica, Lululemon is also outsourcing its investment into natural fibres. Genomatica CEO Christophe Schilling claims the material has exactly the same performance properties as nylon, with up to 90 per cent reduction in carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. The material is not commercially available yet, but is ready for limited edition capsules and development prototypes. Bringing Bio-Nylon to Products Lululemon joins brands like Nike, Gucci, Adidas and Allbirds in developing materials that are either plant-based or made from recycled material as consumers become more environmentally conscious. The collaboration with Genomatica is one of the ways Lululemon aims to bring new, sustainable innovation to its raw materials. Additional examples include the company’s partnership with Mylo, to use a mycelium-based leather, and LanzaTech, for polyester made using recycled carbon emissions.

Lululemon Makes Equity Investment In Genomatica
Photo credit: Genomatica

According to an analysis from MII, this demand for sustainable fashion products will drive the growth of the “next-gen” material industry into a $2.2 billion global market by 2026.

3. Minimising hybrids, absorbs Carbon dioxide and produces oxygen.

AZGARD9 turned a sci-fi fashion dream into reality, by making the worlds most sustainable garment that produces oxygen. It was produced with our motto in mind “Future Before Fashion” which focuses on the development of products and solutions with a green impact on the planet.  This Garment of the Future is based on a climate positive approach. It is a living and breathing piece of clothing that absorbs Carbon dioxide and produces oxygen. Treated with microbial pigmentation, the garment behaves like a plant. During its life cycle, the garment improves the immediate environment of the wearer and produces approximately same amount of O2 as an Oak tree. The purpose of making this garment is to make everyone understand that we need to make use of disruptive innovations to minimize our contribution to global warming.

4. Sustainability’s become a lifestyle

By working with next-gen material startups, brands are likely to foster more support and awareness of animal-free alternatives—and they’ll be able to capture the influential group of younger Gen Z consumers who are increasingly turning to ethical and sustainable products.  “Collaboration on sustainable innovation will result in both a prosperous future for successful material companies, brands, investors, and a liveable future on Earth,” said Rawling.  

Lately, as the reality of the climate emergency sets in, we’ve seen designers move away from seasonal collections in favour of designing timeless pieces that can serve consumers for years.

Photo/Diagram credit: Cuyana

Cuyana’s sustainability model This demonstrates how sustainability is pushing business decisions, as well as reshaping the online market. Arguably, thrifting has now gone digital as sustainability is now the order of the day for most brands and designers.

Whichever part of the supply chain you are, whether you’re a designer, distributor, wholesaler, or retail customer, sustainability is at the forefront of your business objectives. In 2022, your fashion choices might be something more than just choosing clothing that you like. Make your decisions matter and support brands that support your future.

By Amelia Peng, Design Contributing Editor

Amelia Peng is a textile artist, designer and material research & developer. While attempting to find a medium to portray her visual interpretations of materials and ideas, textiles proved to be the ideal process by which she could convey these images with permission of the Art Master of Textiles Woven, Royal College of Art in London. Following several years doing commercial textile design proposals for fashion-sports brands such as adidas and Nike, and research development for Hermes, Agnes.b in Paris, she has also worked for lululemon as Fabric Developer of Global supply chain management. Add to the story, get in touch via

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