Aditya Agarwal

Aditya Agarwal is Co-Founder at Campus Sutra.

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Future of Fashion industry: India in 2050

The fashion industry will witness more use of materials such as polymer threads, which are five times thinner than human hair. There will also be more use of sustainable fabric and material with environmental consciousness becoming a more common refrain in recent times, especially amongst the youth.

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Imagine walking by someone in the street wearing something that catches your eye. You find yourself wishing you had the same outfit to wear for yourself too. You take a picture of it on your ocular device and send a command to your 3D printer, which in turn reproduces the same outfit in your size specifications. Wishful thinking? Too expensive? Well, this is what the future of the fashion industry is likely to hold! Fast-forward to 2050 and the degree to which technology will influence the fashion industry will be staggering. (It was even the theme of the prestigious Met Gala in 2016.) As per a recent report by experts, future fashion could be all about 3D printing, holographic Fashion Shows, faster merchandising from ramp to rack and Virtual Reality (VR)-based entities as well as innovations in fabric and other materials.[1]

Here are some trends that could transform the fashion world by 2050:

3D Printing

This technology is already making inroads in other industries and is set to revolutionize the fashion industry as well. 3D printed clothes will enable people to customize their wardrobe by printing clothes that suit an individual’s shape, style and personal preferences. The technology helps with rapid prototyping, and will be used to print anything from essentials to accessories in the future. It will also become possible to develop embellishments using innovative designs. This will also open up important legal and ethical debates, for instance whether scanning a piece of clothing and printing it for personal use is liable for copyright infringement or not is yet to become clear. At the same time, being able to print a garment will certainly help reduce wastage in the supply chain.

Evolution of retail startups

Many startups such as Campus Sutra have already entered the retail space and are bringing a change in the way clothing is perceived. They design and sell clothes with the current trends in focus. This will further see an evolution with technological aspects like Big Data and machine learning. These technologies can help analyse parameters like inventory, buyer measurements and locations etc. which will in turn disrupt and optimise traditional fashion retail operations. With omni channel becoming the norm, concepts like visual trial rooms and endless aisle will be adopted in a major way in retail. Further, these will offer businesses benefits such as reducing the number of returned items and logistical conveniences with delivery in any corner becoming a possibility in a matter of hours or few days.

Innovative materials

The fashion industry will witness more use of materials such as polymer threads, which are five times thinner than human hair. There will also be more use of sustainable fabric and material with environmental consciousness becoming a more common refrain in recent times, especially amongst the youth. Few examples of such fabric include Pinatex (leather made of pineapple fiber), and materials made from milk, tea, and coffee beans. Research is even underway to develop a coating for textiles which will help clothing repair itself! This coating is not visible and will help increase a garment’s lifespan. The overall trend of responsibility towards sustainable development will drive more sustainable innovations to reduce wastage in the fashion industry.

Research, Big Data and Analytics

Big Data and Analytics are two technologies which are helping companies research, analyse and understand user preferences to create products accordingly. In the fashion industry, such tools will guide companies on preferences and trends, by predicting what will be in style for the next season. With virtual fitting rooms, the day is not far when one will be able to visualize themselves in a garment before deciding to buy it. Technology will enable tracking of customers around outlets and send them offers they can utilize then and there via push notifications on the mobile phone. Hyper local targeting is already a widely emerging trend for attracting customers in the vicinity of a business.

Wearable technology integration

Future fashion will mean you can change the color and design of your garment at the touch of a button. We will see fabrics that can respond to changes in light, water, or temperature. Clothes will have built-in sensors projecting data, which can later be used for analysis by retail companies. The wearable industry has already witnessed an upward trend with things such as bracelets that can track health parameters and report any fluctuations. In the future, we may see these features integrated within the garment.

In conclusion

India, today, is at the forefront of manufacturing and production. However, the country has been lagging behind almost all fashion brands across the globe, in spite of its potential. The future will likely see brands originating from India, manufactured in India, and being adopted by the West with added impetus from the Make in India campaign. The year 2050 will see at least two dozen fashion brands from India with well-established worldwide distribution and retail.

The definition of fast fashion is going to change in a major way. It took the industry about 50 years and 10 billion dollars to change the game in fast fashion, where the 18-months cycle became 1 to 2 months, the scenario we are in today. The year 2050 will see the extension of the on-demand economy for fashion – "I need it fast and I need it now". The concept of an open marketplace where designers from across the world contribute designs and charge a small fee for every download is a possibility. Fashion is poised to be more than just about appearances. With technology and innovation, fashion can become about expression of values and beliefs, for example how much a wearer cares for the environment or about how speedily trends are adopted and who influences them.

[1] Report called The Future of Shopping (2016)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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