Sustainability #1 - Fashion Megatrend 2020

The study "The State of Fashion" highlights the fashion megatrend 2020 "Sustainability #1": The growing need of consumers for more sustainable products - even in times of the Black Swan Event

Fashion megatrends, Black Swan event

Also this year the consulting firm McKinsey & Company together with The Business of Fashion (BOF) has a new edition of the "The State of Fashion 2020" released. This year it was fashion megatrend 2020 “Sustainability # 1” highlighted. To see the effects of the Corona crisis on the fashion industry to shed light on, BoF and McKinsey also recently launched one Update your report published and describe the so-called Black Swan Event.

Sustainability # 1 basically stands for the growing need of consumers more sustainable products. In addition to all innovative models of the Upcycling and recycling to combat fashion waste it is emphasized that the overproduction and the excessive consumption clothing are the central problems of the fashion industry. This also applies in times of Covid-19.

Covid-19 - The Black Swan Event of the fashion industry

The updated report shows the strong effects of the corona crisis on the fashion industry which is worth 2,5 trillion USD. According to this, the sales of the fashion industry should decrease by around 2020% in 30. Compared to the previous year, the losses of the luxury industry are expected to even reach 40%. Around 80% of listed fashion companies in Europe and North America are facing financial hardship and 65% of consumers are planning to spend less this year due to financial problems. Previously designed business strategies become redundant, managing directors face an unpredictable future and workers go through a tough time. The fashion business is simply defenseless.

However, a look at the "New Normal" also shows light at the end of the tunnel. Due to this so-called Black Swan Event, certain trends and movements should accelerate, especially those in the area of ​​sustainability. This includes, for example, the desire of consumers for radical transparency or the antipathy towards waste and the enormous waste of the fashion industry. But also the increasing demand for long-term season-less designs and for brands with strong values. This makes the fashion megatrend Sustainability # 1 even more important.


Sustainability #1 Fashion Megatrend 2020

  1. Upcycling waste and used clothing
  2. Processing remnants of fabric
  3. Loan and rental concepts
  4. Return programs

Avoid waste by upcycling and upgrading fabrics

It is important to keep old clothes away from landfills and to scale upcycling offers in the long term. For example, Patagonia, an outdoor clothing manufacturer, has been working on the problem of how to collect, sort and irreparably recycle old clothes for profitable items for over a year. Around 2019 jackets, sweaters and bags were upcycled for its ReCrafted line in November 10.000. These were sold in the specially designed "Worn Wear Store" in Boulder, Colorado.

The project promotes long-term efforts to upgrade used clothing and reduce waste from the fashion industry. So far, there have been mainly smaller capsule collections because working with old clothing is complex and difficult to scale. Alex Kreme, Patagonia's director of corporate development, said: “It is really difficult to work with old clothes in different stages of use and dismantling. It took a lot longer than expected and it's a very daunting process. ”

Almost 53 million tons of fibers end up in landfills every year

A look at the figures from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation shows how important the waste recycling process is. The fashion industry therefore generates around 53 million tons of fiber waste per year. More than 70 percent of it ends up in landfills. Less than one percent is reused to make new clothes out of it. An environmental problem that is easy to understand, but is all the more difficult to tackle. It requires ambitious solutions, higher investments and new technologies. It remains to be seen whether the Corona crisis, the Black Swan event of the fashion industry, can accelerate this movement.

Recycling by borrowing and renting clothes

Another fashion megatrend 2020 are new recycling technologies or business models that focus on the rental and resale of old clothing. Despite some efforts in this direction, however, the fashion industry is at an early stage and is not yet getting to the root of the problem. The need to produce less on the corporate side and consume less on the consumer side.

Reuse leftovers or fibers

Until this step is taken, the recycling of production residues will also emerge as a new way of reducing the huge amount of waste and at the same time being economically profitable. Especially for younger brands that act consciously, working with remnants or excess material is a sensible decision. "With everything that ends up in the trash, cash is thrown away," says Jonathan Cohen, who takes advantage of this strategy with his brand of the same name.

But bigger brands are also looking for such paths. For example, Burberry has started a partnership with the luxury brand Elvis & Kresse, which reuses the waste from leather production for their handbags and other accessories. However, such collaborations and paths require considerable effort and creativity on the part of companies to think beyond the traditional operating mode of the industry.

Re-acceptance programs and return measures as an idea of ​​recycling used clothing

When it comes to clothing upcycling, there are several alternative ways of dealing with old clothes for companies - but they are anything but easy. On the one hand, there is the possibility of reprocessing existing clothes in order to sell them again, as Patagonia does, for example. Readmission programs and return measures are also part of the Fashion Megatrend 2020, which have already made the first successful attempts to implement them. Like the jeans brand, for example MUD jeans offers its customers to send in old jeans for a voucher, regardless of the brand.

Post Black Swan Event - The root of the problem remains overproduction and overconsumption

In order for upcycling to work in the long term, however, the conventional way of thinking and operating mode must be reconsidered. This movement is expected to accelerate after the Black Swan Event. Just like new, innovative and at the same time economical ways for the sustainable use of clothes. This is urgently needed to put an end to the basic problem of the fashion industry - overproduction and excessive consumption of clothing.


Always informed about the latest lifestyle trends, architecture, design & interior, as well as current technologies around sustainability.

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