A short overview of the trends and developments expected in the fashion industry in 2019.

Global growth averaged more than 2.5 percent in the years after the financial crisis, but it would be an optimistic observer who would bet on it continuing through 2019. With global headwinds, Brexit (and other) uncertainty, as well as trade tensions, things may get hairy.

Brands looking to mitigate this might aim to increase productivity through greater efficiency and cost reduction, however, it would be even better to combine this with the search for new innovative strategies and even original business models, which could provide a longer-term advantage than mere cuts. One such model which is fast becoming an established trend is the push towards the circular economy or “rented fashion”. Fueled by consumers’ growing desire for variety, sustainability and affordability, brands (and not just the start-ups) are investigating and investing in the tools, platforms and strategies to facilitate and enable sharing and re-utilizing purchased clothing. Established fashion brands will accelerate the pace with which they will adopt new property models to promote their relevance to consumers. Some suggest that this resale market could end up larger than fast fashion within ten years.

Another likely feature of the future of fashion relates to young people’s focus on brand values and ethics. Younger consumers are seriously concerned about social and environmental causes, which many consider to be the problems that define our time. Increasingly, they back up their beliefs with their buying habits, favoring brands aligned with their values and avoiding those that are not. This has a major impact on marketing and the need for brands to be perceived as authentic and “taking a stand”, something which traditionally fashion labels have, as a rule, steered away from.

Finally, the most evident shift this year will come from the continuing evolution of processes, models and opportunities related to the digital revolution. Of particular interest is how the design and production methods employed til now by Fashion brands, which are generally long and cumbersome processes, will change thanks to new technology, such as 3D printing, blockchain tracking and, artificial intelligence and so on. Technology, analysis and proximity are part of the solution, allowing companies to respond quickly to the source and develop products, reduce production time and simplify implementation. New companies are at the forefront, but some traditional actors are also intensifying and offering new and compelling solutions.