The new year gives us an opportunity to believe something new is starting, and there is more of an opportunity to do things differently and see things through new lenses. Best-selling self-improvement books will tell us that every day is an opportunity to implement changes in our lives, and we don’t have to wait for the new year to make things happen. These overly optimistic cliche phrases are not inaccurate, but because of the new year, we can see with more clarity what 12 months ahead look like. We know what potential events, activities, parties, birthdays, and long weekends to expect in the near future. We begin to wonder when’s a good time to ask for the days off at work, and what week is going to suck because we’re going to have to do something we don’t want to do. As we’re welcoming 2024 with a fresh, open mind with 12 months ahead of us, here are some key factors that will play an essential role in our Social and Political Fashion in 2024.
Outdoor fashion is an excellent example of how social, economic, and technological factors intersect to help fashion evolve. Outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing, biking, and running are not just methods of exercise. They are part of a lifestyle, a way of thinking. For many, it is a way to clear their mind and practice active meditation. For others, it’s about challenging themselves to be better and healthier. The value that consumers add to outdoor activities translates into a huge market for outdoor clothing and accessories. Heavy-duty boots, water-resilient jackets, and fabrics that adjust to thermostats and reduce the humidity of the body.
Shearling leather, waxed materials, resilient nylon and heavy duty hardware are elevated in high fashion as a reaction to consumer’s fascination for outdoor activities. Image Courtesy of GQ.
As new technological discoveries have emerged to create new textures and offer other advantages to the user, such as tracking heartbeats and counting steps, 2024 will be the year of the outdoors reinvented. This is a very exciting development for those who use outdoor recreation activities to connect with nature, as there are many products and fashion developments that interact with solar energy.
In 2023, we saw some climate phenomena that we haven’t seen before at least not in that magnitude. Devastating fires dragging air pollution hundreds of miles away from the starting point of the fire, tropical storms that became dangerous hurricanes within hours. A decade ago, the mass media described climate change as a possibility for the near future. Now, it’s part of our present.
As we witness the devastating effects of climate change on the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink, sustainability in fashion is imperative.
Consumers are demanding that fashion companies make these changes, and they want to see numbers, statistics, names of factories, and carbon footprint results. This information is harder to hide than it was a decade ago because what happens in a river next to a low-income community in India can be seen in Seattle, WA, within a matter of seconds through a social media post. Consumers are asking questions, and slowly but surely, companies are delivering some answers.
Those who have experienced the effects of climate change firsthand, like those who’ve been affected by wildfires, natural disasters, and extreme weather, or those who’ve lost a loved one to these issues, are starting to see this as a pressing concern to be addressed in the way we eat, we transport, we live, we shop, and we relate to clothes.
Climate change in fashion has many pillars. On the one hand, there is a strong need to reduce the carbon footprint that the textile industry, the second largest polluter in the world after the food industry, puts in year after year.
But there’s also the aspect of adaptation. The hottest summers are yet to come, and the most freezing winters haven’t happened yet. These changes in temperature are shaping the fashion industry, offering consumers jackets that are getting puffier every winter and fabrics that are getting lighter and lighter every Summer.
The weather is a constant factor in the clothes we wear. But it’s not as simple as choosing a short or a long sleeve. There has been some significant development in creating clothing to protect us from the extreme weather that we are experiencing.
2024 is projected to be the year when most people travel in the post-pandemic world. Emerging small businesses and attractive destinations that surged and resurged after the global challenges we faced in 2020 are a source of inspiration for people of all ages and backgrounds to travel to new destinations. This factor is particularly relevant for the Cruise collections that fashion brands present. Cruise or Resort collections usually launch between the Summer and the Fall collections, targeting those who travel for an end-of-summer vacation.
These trips combined with a digital age on steroids, and this eagerness to celebrate travel after years of uncertainty, will bring some colorful, fashion-forward, and joyful fashion moments between June and August, as many will travel for the warmest months of the year.
It is particularly exciting to see vacation clothing mixed with the awareness of supporting small businesses after many of these entrepreneurs lost much of what they earned during the most difficult times of the pandemic. Buying a necklace at the beach stand in your resort destination will impact the local economy, the seller’s life, and the uniqueness of your jewelry collection. Buying from local and small businesses will always be a great way to support the communities you are visiting during your trip.
In Political Fashion, we’ve spoken about how much effort fashion puts into mobilizing and encouraging people to vote. Vogue’s November issue, with its initial highlighted with the word vote, and companies incentivizing their users with rewards and treats if they show up with their “I vote” sticker are some ways politics and fashion interact during Election year.
But if a society is politicized, fashion adopts this characteristic as well. Consumers look at the values of the company, the organizations they support, their efforts on a certain issue, or supporting an under-represented group. Those big companies in the stock market may be loyal donors to a certain figure or party, and this influences the perception we have of the fashion brand and our decision as to whether we want to keep purchasing from them or not.
This fascinating and intrinsic relationship between politics and fashion will prevail in different capacities as we get closer to Election day. People wearing merch with logos, political stands, unionized manufacturers, and faces of people running for office will be walking down the streets with the same confidence that supermodels have rocking the runway in fashion week. And still uncertain what the closing look will be.
Fashion & Artificial Intelligence
In 2023, AI generated pictures of Pope Francis, including one of him rocking a white puffer jacket Balenciaga inspired, went viral online.
Artificial Intelligence has been a recurring subject since the 1950s, but we’ve reached a point where Artificial Intelligence is an asset (or a threat, depending on the circumstances and the user) for almost every aspect of our lives, including health, business, politics, and of course fashion.
Artificial intelligence has already been implemented in the fashion industry. Some ways in which we can see it today are:
Virtual fittings: Going into fashion websites and trying on clothing or accessories to see how the silhouette and the color matches you. Some of these websites act like a filter where the product adjusts to what the camera of your device sees to make it proportional.
AI-Powered fashion recommendations: Algorithms do not always accurately reflect our style or fashion needs. One day, we can be feeling a snake-printed knee-high boot, the next a pale pink sneaker, and the following, some printed espadrilles. In our minds, it makes sense. Fortunately, and certainly in a creepy capacity, AI is able to provide fashion recommendations that can streamline the process of fashion shopping. The days of going through several pages online and looking for a top are over. Now, these new powered recommendations have enough information about the user to provide a more personalized recommendation.
Generating Designs: In graphic design, software like Adobe Express and Canva have implemented AI to generate creative ideas and significant design modifications within minutes. In fashion, designers can provide specific parameters and prompts, and artificial intelligence can generate a few options very quickly. These tools are particularly helpful for those creatives who must generate several iterations of the same design, fast fashion companies who are mass-producing hundreds of new products monthly, and creatives who are looking for a starting point or want to expand their horizons on how their designs or visions can evolve.
These are only a few ways in which AI is already part of the fashion industry. In 2024, we will see more of this merger in the sectors of customer experience, ideation, trend forecasting, production, and so much more.
These are some factors influencing the fashion we’ll see this 2024 on the runway, in the stores, and on social media. But as it happens every year, there will be those trends and viral moments that we can’t predict. Actors hitting each other at the Oscars or another celebrity trial. We’ll keep an eye on the next factors triggering this year’s trend and will update you with all the information you will need.