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The future of fashion - Five key takeaways

With over 20,000 entries received in the past five years, we can get unique insights in how innovators from over 200 countries and territories across the world, think and foresee the future of fashion.

1. Equal innovation power

Contrary to many other industries, fashion innovation attracts close to 50/50 applications from men and women. This year, 49.6% of the applicants were men and 50.4% women.

2. Wear it again, and you’ll save the planet

The world population is expected to increase with 32% between 2017 – 2050. However, during the same time period the global fashion consumption is expected to increase with 202%. It’s an equation that needs to change to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

One of the most important actions consumers can do to improve their environmental footprint is to use their garments more often. It may seem trivial to use a t-shirt a few extra times before discarding it, but let’s zoom out and look at the numbers:

• The number of times a garment is worn globally has dropped by 36% between 2002 – 2016.

• China has gone from 200 wears per garment to about 60 during the same time.

• In the US, a garment is worn on average 40 times before being discarded.

With a fast-increasing consumption trend, we need to change how garments are made, shipped, used and discarded. One of the biggest opportunities lies in how we use and care for our clothes, with a lot of usability left in most clothes before they are discarded.

3. Local challenges inspire innovations

The origin of many disruptive ideas is context-specific and often reflect local challenges. For example, innovators from Africa focus more on recycling and production, whereas European innovators predominantly focus on customer use and retail. North American entrepreneurs are twice as focused on circularity than in Africa. Here, crowdfunding is also much more common than in Africa.

A reason for this could be the more visible climate impact in Africa such as lack of proper waste

management systems and weather extremities, which leads to an increased willingness to do something about for example pollution (production) and waste (recycling). For Europe, it could reflect the growing attention paid to changing consumption behaviour.

4. Tech innovation is on the rise

With 30% increase in the past five years, almost half of the innovations are now based on new technologies. The use of apps is almost three times as common now as it was four years ago. The top technology areas are: apps, artificial intelligence, blockchain, machine learning and analytics.

5. What’s in it for me drives change

There is an increased attention to the global climate crisis, but why are we so slow to change our behaviours? Well, most consumers need to see that the climate change may have a negative impact on their own lifestyle before making any real and lasting changes in their behaviours. We can also see that values and personal beliefs are driving change in how customers make their purchasing decisions. In short – we shop more from brands who we think align with our values and ideals.


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