What Will We Wear?

The future of fashion may be built on recycled garbage. Or fabrics lab-grown by fermentation (or grown on our bodies). Or subdermal electronics. Here’s a roundup and summary of a few speculations.

Jessica Brinton. April 4, 2015. “2050: The Fashion Of The Future.” The Australian.

Of the speculations I’ve seen so far, this is the most optimistic. Here is a summary of the major points:

Department stores will be optimized not to sell things, but to make people happy. Presumably making them glad to be there (and buy things).

We’ll shop in stores, and our purchases will be delivered to our homes nearly instantly.

Clothing will be embedded with nanotechnology creating body operating system, thereby connecting us to the larger internet of things. Our clothes will react to the needs of our bodies.

“Our clothing will be fully updateable, adaptable and optimised to the way we want to express ourselves on any particular day.”

We will use 3D printers at home or in high-spec printing houses nearby, or we may grow our clothes on demand from microbial cultures.

Beauty standards will reflect new ethnicities and increased lifespans.

By the late 2020s, clothes will be so adaptable and recyclable they will never be thrown away. “Fast fashion” will be made from paper so that it can be recycled when the trend has passed.

Nancy Tilbury. March 6, 2010. “Digital Skins Body Atmospheres.”

Kathleen Flood. August 29, 2012. “This Future Of Fashion Film Predicts Body Mods Will Be All The Rage In 2050.” The Creators Project.

Wearable technology designer Nancy Tilbury released a short film in 2010 predicting high fashion possibilities in 2050. The Creators Project blogged about Tilbury’s film and picked up on the prevalence of body modification in her vision. Highlights from the film include dresses made of gas; embedded moisturizers, fashion pills, and electric eyes; biologically grown high-heels, jewelry, and clothes that are extensions of the “wearers” flesh.

The Creators Project playfully contrasted Tilbury’s vision with a film from the 1930s predicting fashion trends in the year 2000.

Note: Nancy Tilbury spoke at the 2013 conference “Wearable Futures.” Other speakers are listed here.

Danielle Meder. June 3, 2007. “Fashion Forecast 2050.” Final Fashion.

Fashion illustrator Danielle Meder did a bit of speculation on general fashion trends in 2050 back in 2007. She was prompted by the question of what impact quadrupling energy costs might have on the fashion industry. Her speculations also assume a generally contracting global economy, a warming climate, and a slight overall dip in quality of life. Here are some “highlights”:

The most affordable materials will be the ones produced closest to you. For example, garbage.

The most fashionable materials will be the most unavailable. In Toronto, that would be practically any virgin fiber.

In Canada, woven fabrics will be exotic and rare. Fur will be more common.

With less heat and A/C, clothing weights and constructions will compensate. Because UV rays will be stronger, outdoor clothing will be sun-protective. Clothing will be washed less often.

Rising inflation might lead people to keep (and wear) their wealth in jewelry, instead of banks.

As materials become more localized, and also the skills to work with localized materials, extreme regional variations in dress will develop.

Wages will be depressed, as will consumer spending. Less productivity means fashion will change more slowly. People will be thinner on average, and the idealized fashionable body will become more voluptuous.

If the world becomes more religious/conservative on the whole, there may be a greater power divide between the sexes. In that case, men’s and women’s clothing will be less similar, more defined and restrictive.


Grown materials:

Cara McGoogan. October 28, 2015. “This Sportswear Peels Away When You’re Hot And Sweaty.” Wired.co.uk.

Katie Levitt. November 17, 2011. “Suzanne Lee Grows Her Own BioCouture Bomber Jackets.” The Creators Project.

Chemical reactive materials:

October 17, 2015. “The Unseen Uses Chemistry To Create Reactive Fashion.” Wired 2015 Next Generation.  

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