Fashion forecasting is an enormous trade that predicts fabrics, looks, colours and styles, and influences fashion in forthcoming seasons. Have you ever wondered why you wear the clothes you do? Stereotypically, fashion editors spend their time sitting at fashion shows and looking for ideas to bring back to their offices, transform them into fashion Trends and tell us what to wear this season. However, in this fast-paced world, the fashion industry is changing as well. Prepare for the revolution because the post-trend fashion world is coming where there are no well-defined parameters for our sartorial choices and an endless range of options.

Take a look at some of the routes fashion is taking, outlining key innovations that could sparkle radical changes in our expectations of clothing.

Fashion forecasting creates trend reports that get sold to clients. Those reports guide and inspire designers working from mainstream to couture fashion. By having the knowledge of emerging trends, fashion professionals hope that this will give them an advantage over the competition. Fashion forecasting is crucial for the fashion industry as the reports detect the reappearance of aesthetic cycles, consumers’ behavior and form projections. It can be important for designers to know which sector of the fashion they can reach and whether to target long term or short term trends.

So how does mainstream fashion work so far?

In-house trend research is applied. This consists of short and long-term trend research and consists of labels collecting information and trying to spot patterns. Brand and consumer behavior is catalogued and analysed by using online sources, collecting customer feedback and market research.

Vertical integration is considered to be ideal because it reduces the operational costs. Some of the companies that have vertical integration are Zara, Victoria’s Secret and GAP, businesses that own their whole chain, from supply to sales. In other words, they produce and sell their own products.

One of the most significant developments that will distinguish the future fashion from the number-crunched trends will be the emergence of the creative consumer.

According to the the rise of online communities and the development of easy to use design tools has created a phenomenon called the user-led innovation, which enables people to become involved in the design process and contribute to the creativity. Fashion brands are starting to look for narratives and more ‘creative’ directions and platforms. This will lead to fashion brands relying more on their own creative direction rather than trend reports.

We are starting to experience a new era for fashion, where society shifts such as gender patterns or global demographic shifts, economic strategies, and financial markets are not that important anymore. Fashion becomes increasingly multifaceted and its future is driven by engineering, biotechnology, and scientific research.

Those are beginning to have a huge impact on how clothes are worn and experienced. One example, for instance, is the U N S E E N, which is a material exploration house based in London that uses design, chemistry, physics, and math to affect the colour of the clothing they make. According to WGSN: ’THE U N S E E N works both as a bespoke innovation consultancy to global industry leaders across the sector and is an internationally recognized brand itself in the worlds of Material, Innovation, Art, Science, Fashion, and Design.’ On 17/02/2017 they presented their latest innovation called FIRE, the world's first changing hair dye.

Anticipating emerging shifts will not be easy. Fashion practitioners and forecasters will have to consider a broader range of factors than they do today.

They will have to consider developments in different areas or synergy between numerous of them.

There is a revolution happening in the fashion industry and designers are becoming less concerned with creating short-term styles and looking more into receiving customer’s feedback on how to make garments more multifunctional. For instance, recently Philips Design’s outfits started incorporating wearable technology and exploring ‘emotional sensing’ to exhibit how electronics can be used to express the character and the emotions of the wearer. Customers will be buying clothing because it will be providing ‘lifestyle’ solutions.

Why do we need to look into future forecasting?

Such information will help practitioners and will be of use to anyone who wants to foresee some of the innovations to come, and even to draw strategic conclusions right now about the steps to be taken.

Clothing that can be standard for the future will be garments that project images, moving motifs and scrolling texts. Innovator, visionary and trend spotter, Sabine Seymour, the Director of the Fashionable Technology Lab at Parsons The New School for Design and Assistant Professor in Fashionable Technology, designs clothes capable of doing that. The designs are a system of fabric-printed sensors that integrate with clothing and monitor biometric and environmental factors. For instance, air quality and UV level, via Bluetooth. She describes it as ‘dynamic movement’ or a ‘twofold system.’ The first part is a sensor system that the garment manufacturer puts into the garment and the second part consists of electronic hardware.

Wearable technology is engineered to be light weighted and soft, as well as to feel comfortable against the skin. Incorporating portable technology in garments makes it readily available. Another plus side is that there is no need for cold metal cases and hard plastic covers. On top of, that forget about broken screens.

However, wearable technology requires wearable energy sources. Batteries are too dangerous to be worn and create health risks. This is why designers are looking into converting kinetic energy into a power source. Definitely, keep an eye on Energear, as this is the only company so far that creates ‘regenerative’ fabrics that reflects body heat back to the wearer and this heat becomes a power source.

Garments will become the most popular hardware components. They will mimic the body’s behavior and will be able to react to it.

Fashion will also start to offer on-site solutions. Brands will cater for a wider variety of their customers’ needs than they do at the present. For instance, after a long night of clubbing, you might be able to slip your feet into cushioning shoes straight away because there will be mobile kiosks selling comfortable footwear in front of the nightclubs. There will be vending machines selling practical garments and accessories in the powder rooms. China is already enjoying some of these easy solutions as Korean vending machines Arco, are selling T-shirts on some of the main streets.

Even though this is not a new idea and Comme des Garcons was the first brand to offer pop-up shops in unexpected places, this concept will become more and more popular in the next few years.

Altering shape and appearance will be made through visionary manufacturing techniques and high-tech fabrics. Materials absorbing impact and changing temperature will be widespread. The main material used by skydivers, cyclist, motorcyclists, skaters, and snowboarders nowadays is D3O. Some of the organisations that use this innovative technology are Under Armour, Schutt Sports, Snickers Workwear, Dr. Martens, US Special Forces, 3M, Furygan and Scott Sports. The demand for protective clothing is on demand. Do you feel vulnerable while walking through areas affected by crime or cycling on the bus lane?

Future protective garments will be here soon. The D3O Lab, located in South London, is currently working on a new formula, that will be made public in 2018. Their designs will look like conventional sportswear or well-cut uniforms.

Another aspect of future fashion that will blow our minds will be what is considered to be beautiful. Traditionally garments consisted of two-dimensional designs that were following the body contours. However, the new emerging ‘illusion wear’ will provide an opportunity to manipulate the wearer’s proportions. Future designs will feature electronic-screen-like surfaces that reconfigure in order to create the wearers’ desired shape, creating an optional illusion and highlighting certain body areas whilst distracting from others.

The clothing will mimic the appearance of different textures, colours and materials, such as water, as in Iris van Herpen’s Crystallization collection of Spring/Summer 2011. The collection consisted of dresses made by a futuristic method that consisted of garments created from liquid solutions that harden to form a dress. After the dress is molded it can easily be reverted to a liquid state and form a different garment. Transformable garments bring a new meaning to fashion, as well as utility and multifunctional.

Even though the inspiration emerges from biomimicry, genetic modification, robotics and combat uniforms, future apparel is expected to take on some extraordinary shapes. A perfect example of this are Julia Krantz’s garments and especially her Shell Collection, created of garments containing translucent materials draped over metal frames.

Third industrial revolution: By 2050 our clothing will be fully adaptable, optimized and updateable

Billie Whitehouse of Wearable Experiments, a wearable technology company, based in Melbourne, Australia, that aims to help us have a better quality life, says that she’d love to be able to change her skirt length from morning to evening. And she will.

Even though it is impossible to underestimate the impact of 3D printing, the future of fashion is in growing clothing from bacteria. According to Suzanne Lee, creative director of Modern Meadow, a business focused on growing animal products such as meat and leather, by 2050 everyone will have a bio-fabricator, a machine that grows fabrics from microbial cultures. Imagine a material that feels like silk and can ‘read’ your emotions but is manufactured using bacteria or mushrooms.

Future fashion will be minimal in look, however, maximum in performance. Future fashion will continue to create new looks and styles, however, the garments will be inspired by what they help the wearer to achieve rather than how they appear. That is why the new fashion forecast is that clothing will be sold as part of incentives that pamper and entertain customers, and provide lifestyle ‘solutions’.