The Future of Design in Fashion – Reflections from the Past


Thinking about the future of design is like playing Nostradamus to a field that is not only massive, but is all encompassing! Narrowing it down to fashion industry, is still quite vast, though it allows us think in the realms of clothing and accessories! However, design, even within fashion isn’t just limited to that! Every day, there are innovations in retail, in how people view and consume fashion, and in how it is marketed and presented… and all of it uses innovative design thinking techniques as well!


So then, what is the future of design in fashion?


As a starting point, let’s look at the cosmic chart! We’re currently in the Age of Aquarius, which is characterized by technological advances and innovations! By science, logic and the mind! After Aquarius, we’ll be headed into the Age of Pisces, which is characterized by spirituality, by the forces of nature and especially by water!

Pisces is the last of the ages! (Don’t worry, each of these cosmic ages lasts about 2000 years and we’ve just about entered Aquarius J)

But as we near and prepare for the end, life as to come a full circle… and we can already see the signs!


TREND 1: Revisiting Our Roots:


Vishnu as Vishvarupa (cosmic or universal man), early 19th century, Jaipur.
Ca. 1800-1820


If we look at one of the largest socio-cultural trends of our generation, it’s all about “Revisiting our roots”! We’ve always known that fashion repeats itself, but as a larger socio-cultural phenomenon, it’s much larger than that! In every field, we the world move towards natural and herbal. Ancient Indian sciences like Yoga and Ayurveda are getting widely accepted, Chinese medicine and organic produce (which is how our forefathers anyways farmed) is valued more than ever before and mythology, mythological interpretations and history is being celebrated in not just literature and parallel cinema, but also in popular fiction, TV shows and movies! We’re in an age where people are finally beginning to ask questions, to find meaning and reasons behind old traditions and rituals; and are beginning to figure out the science behind them.


We see these signs reflecting in the fashion industry as well…


1 (a): Re-discovery of Ancient Art:

Designers are beginning to re-discover old forms of art… tribal art, gypsy art… crafts, weaves and techniques that no one paid attention to for all these decades! And the wonderful thing this that even consumers are beginning to wake up to it.

Increasingly, people are looking for things that have a story, that have a history and that have some significance! Handloom and handmade are gaining importance! Be it art, be it an old ritual or some forgotten, ancient technique – people are willing to pay a premium for these!

My feeling is that in the near future, design inspirations shall come from the old and forgotten! For example, an anthropology of Indian traditions itself can reveal styles, arts and techniques that are over 3000yrs old, that could be made very much wearable & relevant even today! Such treasures of knowledge and stories are sitting all over the world, just waiting to inspire creators and designers who choose to look!


1 (b): Eco-Consciousness:


People are becoming a lot more eco-conscious! And this according to me, will have a huge impact on the fashion industry – after all, the fashion industry is one of the largest polluters in the world – and people are beginning to raise eyebrows!

Brands are already waking up to this and along with high end fashion designers like Stella McCartney and fast fashion giants like H&M launching conscious collections, we also see a rise in a huge number of young designers whose entire brand and purpose are based on sustainability!

And as we go ahead, I see more and more, sustainability dictating the future of design in fashion… right from the fabrics to the silhouettes.



1 (c): Free-Thinking & All Accepting:

Look at all the popular debates and issues that are spoken about globally! Body-shaming, slut-shaming, gender neutrality, racism, sexism, stereotyping – if these are some of the biggest tensions facing our generation, then it only means that people are demanding a world that is unbiased, ungendered and that respects individuality! A world that is truly free and lets you be!

Hence, I believe that we shall see more and more designs which reflect the same spirit and philosophy.

Imperfections will be celebrated!

‘Unfinished, crude and raw’ will be one of the big design trends that we’ll be witnesses to, in the near future.

Anti-fits, androgynous styles, comfort fits, clothes that can be worn (interpreted) in multiple ways, gender neutral clothing are just some things that I believe we can expect to see a lot more of!

Upcycling, is becoming the new cool! It’s cooler to actually repeat and re-interpret your clothes, whereas the ‘I wear one item only once’ mentality, is actually being looked down upon!


Emma Watson’s Met Gala 2016 sustainable outfit by Calvin Klein – fabric made with recycled plastic and everything designed to be reused again by mixing and matching. Picture from:



TREND 2: Tech-access:  

We’re a tech-native generation and as much as we like to rediscover our past, we love doing it with the help of technology! Technology is the weapon our generation is empowered with and I believe that the fashion industry shall see an amazing design revolution with a combination of learnings from the past, and technology of the future!


The possibilities, could be unlimited…


We could possibly see clothing made out of organic materials that disintegrate and turn into compost after they’ve served their time…

or green accessories that are live and grow… to minimize wastage and usage of metals and other natural resources!

The leather industry is already going through a tough time, with very few having managed ethical, less-toxic means of treating leather… but technology could possibly enable finding a possible, eco-friendly alternative to leather all together! And we’re already seeing fabrics that are created using recycled plastic bottles!


2 (a): Influence on colors:

Psychotropical art work: Image courtesy:


Tech influences will also be seen in the colors and the materials used! So, while on one hand there will be earthy and natural colors, on the other hand, we’re also very likely to see the future of design filled with ‘Psychotropical’ colors – i.e. colors that are vivid, vibrant (like neons, etc.) and psychedelic! Like a supernatural, subconscious, psychedelic interpretation of nature!


2 (b): Post-Human influences:

As artificial intelligence becomes a reality of our generation, I believe that we can also expect to see a host of new tech powered materials made of metallic filaments, fiber optics, organic LEDS and illuminated fabrics.


Claire Danes in Zac Posen’s ‘glow-in-the-dark’ dress created using organza and fiber optics. Picture Courtesy:



In sum, according to me the combination of learnings from the past and futuristic technology, can bring about a real revolution in design in the fashion industry! Not saying that the future of fashion is going back to wearing leaves and twigs, but it’s probably that… just powered by design thinking and made more versatile, refined, interesting and wearable 🙂


This blog post is a part of Blogging Competition organized by CGTrader

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About Me

Sonal is a Post Graduate in Luxury Brand Management from Polimoda Institute of Fashion Design and Marketing, Florence (Italy) and has over 9 years of experience as a Brand Strategist working in the advertising industry.

She has also been a Consumer Insights Miner specializing in fashion and luxury brands.