Fashion trends are known for their short lifespan which can mean a lot of money invested in pieces that, let’s be honest, won’t get much wear. Thankfully, more fashion lovers, style influencers and retailers are realising just how impractical and wasteful fickle fashion trends can be and are instead embracing more sustainable long-term options.
Want a trending wardrobe that won’t go out of fashion in a few months? Here are the top 6 fashion trends blowing up this year in response to a more sustainable approach to styling, and you can bet they’ll be sticking around for years to come.
Our wardrobes are often viewed as disposable. Holey tee’s and buttonless shirts are often donated or worse, thrown in the bin. But why should we toss the clothing we love, when with a bit of creativity we can bring them back to life once again.
Mending those holes, adding a new patch or creating a whole new garment keeps those textiles in circulation and away from landfill. And the best bit? You have just created a one-off garment that is true to your style. Spending time to update our clothing or add some personality connects us to our clothing, we no longer think of it as disposable. After all, #lovedclotheslast
Who can remember the famous patchwork cardigan designed by J.W Anderson and worn by Harry Styles that went viral after being recreated by TikTok users? Anderson was so impressed by everyone knitting their own cardigans that he actually released the pattern guide enabling more people to have a hand-knitted cardigan.
Knitting or making your own clothing used to be seen as something only elderly women did, but due to the rise in sustainability (and lockdowns all over the world) people are picking up the needles again. Even “sew-bros” are jumping on the trend, creating their own clothing from discarded textiles. Not ready to make your own garments just yet? Start by adding personalised touches like a vintage brooch to your blazer or embellishments on sleeves or collars.
2. Capsule Wardrobes
Once upon a time, fashion had only four seasons, Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Collections for these were carefully crafted up to a year in advance. Now we have a blistering 52+ “micro seasons” a year, with collections only having a 6 to 4-week turnaround. These collections bring a staggering 53 million tons of clothing into the world annually. If we keep up this pace, it is expected to reach 160 million tons by 2050.
Falling into the trap of buying all these new trends not only leaves us with an overstuffed wardrobe, but it also affects our planet and its people. By buying what we only really need or turning to preloved fashion for that style fix, we can lessen our footprint on the earth.
And I get it, buying less can be a hard thing to do! We are constantly bombarded with advertising pushing us to buy. I’ve learnt to turn off these triggers that cause me to shop:
- Avoid shopping as a “catch up with friends activity”….unless it’s op-shopping!
- Shop my own wardrobe. Create some new looks from what I already have.
- Wishlist or sleep on items before adding to cart.
Capsule Wardrobes can get a bad wrap, often perceived as boring but that is far from the truth. Capsule wardrobes can contain bright colour palettes, maximalist clothing or out there looks that suit your style.
The main purpose of a capsule wardrobe is creating a collection for you, full of your favourite clothes that fit your body and your lifestyle for the now. This collection could be as little as 30 or as many as 50 individual garments that can be mixed and matched to create multiple outfits. Think: button down shirts, pants, blazers, quality tees and knits. It only takes a quick scroll on Instagram or Pinterest to see just how versatile capsule pieces are.
While maximalists may be appalled to think of owning so little or being restricted in choice, owning a capsule wardrobe actually gives you more freedom to find your own style. While a traditional capsule wardrobe doesn’t play into trends, you can select a few (preferably preloved) garments from your favourite trends to experiment with. If you find these do not work well within your wardrobe, simply donate, gift or resell them.
3. Fashion Revivals
I guess we do have traditional trends to thank for this one but we aren’t complaining. Key fashion trends from previous eras always make a comeback and where’s the best place to find vintage fashion? Your local op shop! Op shops are tapping into the younger generations and curating their stores for us. I mean, who would have thought the 90’s revival would come back so quick!*
Plus, heaps of second-hand stores have gone virtual, making it easier than ever for us to shop from home. Stores like Salvos and Sacred Heart Mission , eBay and Facebook Marketplace feature many barely used threads and large amounts of Facebook Groups are popping up dedicated to just one brand. “Gorman Buy, Swap, Sell” has over 21 thousand members.
4. ‘Green’ Collections
As more and more people discover the real deal behind fast fashion, the stronger their push for ethically made fashion is. The bigger brands do notice this, and while some slowly transform their supply chains for good, others release collections that are “sustainable”. You’ll begin to notice more brands release green or sustainable collections made from organic cotton or recycled plastics. These collections are a great step in the right direction but always remember to review the brand’s transparency via the Good On You app before making a purchase because Greenwashing is still around and that’s a trend I’d like to see left behind in 2020.
5. Faux Leathers
What do pineapples, cacti, mangos and grapes have in common? They can all become leather alternatives! Data from the Higg Materials Sustainability Index shows that natural fibres such as leather, have the overall highest environmental impact. Creating vegan-friendly alternatives from other fibres helps us to reduce that impact and our reliance on animal agriculture.
Naarm (Melbourne) based brand A_C Official has fully embraced leather alternatives. Using Desserto (cactus leather), Pinatex (pineapple leather) and washable paper to create their latest range of handbags, A-C Offical shows that animal skins are no longer the future of accessories.
6. Androgynous Dressing
Androgynous fashion is a style that aims to avoid gender stereotypes. Instead of dressing in a traditional gender role, people may style themselves to look how they feel on that particular day. Whether that be male, female or even non-binary.
We are seeing fashion lovers across the globe breaking traditional stereotypes and embracing androgynous styling. For example, Harry Styles wearing a dress on the cover of Vogue. Initially it caused a huge amount of criticism with people claiming that we should “bring back manly men” *crazy right?!* But we’re seeing these fashion barriers being broken down so that any gender (or non-gender) can wear anything they like and that’s a ‘trend’ we’ll be seeing a lot more of. Tailors are beginning to market to women and you’ll notice more brands launching unisex collections.
Different Fashion Trends Across Seasons
As I said earlier, the fashion world revolves around seasons. This creates a natural timeline for trends, so it’s no wonder fashion lovers struggle to take a more mindful path when all that’s thrown at them is the next new thing. Below we’ve listed a sustainable mindset to seasonal fashion that will stop you shopping the end of season sales and help to form a more considered approach to fashion.
2021 Summer Sustainable Fashion Trends
If you’re in Australia, you’d know that the most important piece in the Summer wardrobe is your swimwear (and your SPF!). A good quality swimsuit should last the sun and surf, as well as many seasons, so it’s important to focus on finding one flattering to your shape that makes you feel confident.
2021 Autumn Sustainable Fashion Trends
Autumn is unpredictable at the best of times, the in-between season that takes us from weather requiring billowy linens to shivering in our Puffer jackets. So it’s all about the layering. The good news with this is that you can get so much use out of every item in your closet! If you find layering foreign and stressful, try focusing on tonal combinations by matching pieces of similar colours and building your outfit from there.
2021 Winter Sustainable Fashion Trends
Dresses and linens shouldn’t belong only to Summer. It’s time to keep them on rotation year-long by pairing dresses with tights and boots to bring a bit of Summer cheer to the traditional Winter wardrobe. And while linens are normally championed for being light and breathable, they make a great piece for layering (with your skills from Autumn).
2021 Spring Sustainable Fashion Trends
Spring is all about being prepared. It’s easy to get excited as we come out of Winter and immediately dress in Summer clothes, but when that cool change rolls in you’ll wish you’d thought to bring a jacket (yes Mum, you were right). But being practical can lend a whole new look to your tried and true pieces. Keep your jacket draped over your shoulders for the ultimate cool girl look, or create a different silhouette by tying your jacket around your waist – a multi-purpose belt!
How to Keep up with the Latest Fashion Trends?
It’s exciting to see so many facets of the fashion industry talking about sustainable trends. Nothing beats subscription based platform WGSN for future trend forecasting,*which ASI students have exclusive access to* but to help you keep tabs on the latest current trends there’s a bevy of fashion publications at your fingertips. Vogue, GQ, WWD, and more home-grown publications like Fashion Journal if you’re looking to support something a little closer to home. Or, make it easier on yourself and sign up to ASI’s monthly newsletter to let them bring the fashion news to you. You’ll also be first to hear about exclusive offers and events, so it really is a win-win.
On socials, Pinterest will keep your finger on the pulse for upcoming trends. On Instagram, make sure to follow @australianstyleinstitute as well as the #ASIstylist hashtag for a constant source of fashion inspiration. You can find me at @ironicminimalist for some sustainable style inspo as well.
Gone are the days of fickle fashion trends. We’re beginning to see the fashion world embrace a slower approach to trends and seasonalities and this is just the beginning. Sustainable style is here to stay so embrace it and make it your own!
By Jenna Flood
ASI Sustainable Stylist
Jenna studied her with Australian Style Institute and is now a Personal and Editorial Stylist based in Melbourne. Interested in becoming a Fashion Stylist? Download your Free Course Guide here.