Future of Fashion – From Sustainability to AR Couture and AI Personhood

Laurenti Arnault

How do you imagine the future of fashion? Looking at the latest developments in textiles and wearable technology, it seems we are approaching the point where the garments we wear can interact with the surrounding environment on our behalf.

Smart clothes that pay at the underground or supermarket, that change shape and colour according to the type of activity we are about to embark on, call a replacement service when needed, or initiate the safe and eco-friendly decomposing procedure at the end of their programmed life.

It might sound far-fetched to you, but a new generation of innovative fashion designers are already working towards that future of fashion goal.

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In a recent talk about the future of fashion, Stella McCartney bolstered about the need to modernise the industry’s ancient, wasteful, and polluting manufacturing methods.

To the British designer, the adoption of innovative, cruelty-free and earth-loving materials, coupled with the use of clean manufacturing methods is the key to a better, cleaner future for fashion. In fact, she said, “it is more than a choice but an imperative”.

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Moreover, aligning with the futuristic ideas innovative fashion designers depict and try to create, the values and habits of modern fashion consumers are changing as well.

“They have different expectations. To them technology is sexy and we must approach fashion in a different way if, we want to have a business tomorrow,” said Stella McCartney at the 2018 Vogue Forces of Fashion Conference.

However, there’s so much more to the future of fashion. More than market trends and consumer demands, definitely more than the latest developments in cellular biology, nanotechnology, now, with the advancement of mixed reality and artificial intelligence.

That is why, I’ve put together a personal top ten developments in the realm of fashion, which I feel are signalling the direction the fashion is taking.

1. Future of Fashion – ‘One Size Fits All’

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Inspired by the Japanese Origami and called adaptive clothing, Ryan Jasin’s fashion creations ‘grow’ at the same time with the wearer, up to seven sizes.

Winners of the prestigious James Dyson UK award, Ryan’s innovative creations consist of lightweight pleated fabric patterned to make the garments ‘play-proof’, machine-washable, and most important, fully recyclable.

2. Future of Fashion – Adaptive Shape/Function Apparel

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Creations of Angela Luna, a Parsons School of Design graduate, these shape-changing garments can also be used as a shelter. The original idea was inspired by refugees and their inability to carry around belongings or having a shelter while travelling thousands of miles.

The concept of fashion garments of ‘modular shape and adaptive functionality’ has begun to gain traction with minimalist fashion designers and sustainable fashion labels seeking to minimise manufacturing waste.

3. Future of Fashion – ‘Flavoured’ Couture

The creation of eco-friendly fibres and textiles made from orange peels, pineapples, apples, and other discarded fruits is the new norm for sustainable fashion designers.

Popularised amongst conscious luxury fashion buyers by Salvatore Ferragamo through a dedicated capsule collection of t-shirts and scarves, the orange peel fibre has gained increased adoption and use amongst conscious fashion designers from all over the world.

The main appeal comes from one’s imagination through associations of colour and taste and most likely, the next stage is the garments’ infusion with scents.

4. Future of Fashion – Body Nourishing Fashion


Apparel with nutrients that feed the wearer is becoming in vogue. In this particular case, apparel made from Algae has reached the finals of the 2018 H&M Global Innovation Awards.

The company has created innovative fashion apparel, from Algae-based biodegradable fibres and eco-friendly dyes. But the main innovation came in the garments’ capability of releasing nutrients to the wearer’s body – such as vitamins and minerals – during the day.

5. Future of Fashion – ‘Power’ Fashion

Yves Béhar, the founder of ‘FuseProject’, came up with an original idea of power-garments devised to enable people suffering from muscle dystrophia to function normally, as in being able to walk, stand, and be active again, for more extended periods of time, while also looking good.

Initially, Béhar’s concept found a lot of traction in the medical landscape but now, the next wave of innovative fashion designers is showing a growing interest in augmenting human body with cyborg-like abilities.

6. Future of Fashion – ‘Connected’ Fashion

A similar smart fashion prototype, pictured above in the shape of a cardigan, was ignited by the Dutch designer Pauline van Dongen.

Following on the footsteps of Ivan Poupyrev’s Project Jacquard at Google, Pauline’s ‘Vigour Cardigan’ is embedded with flexible sensors made out of conductive yarns, designed to collect and analyse the wearer’s biometrics.

In this case, the aim was to identify the most efficient exercises and postures of the body. However, in the future connected garments will ensure – through a direct-line connection with one’s personal doctor or assistive medical data software – that the paramedics are at your door, long before you start having stroke symptoms, for example.

7. Future of Fashion – Lab-grown Fashion

It is hard to end the use of leather and fur in fashion, for so many reasons. Both deeply embedded in our DNA as a symbol of status, since the prehistoric times of living in caves and wearing our enemies as trophies, to the damage done by the luxury segment, by creating this association of leather with high quality in consumer’s mind.

However, the use of leather in fashion is tainted not only by the blood of the animals killed for their skins but also by the significant emissions of greenhouse gases and toxic chemicals involved in mass farming animals, tanning and industrial manufacturing processes.

Finally, innovative brands such as Modern Meadow, Bolt Threads, and Furoid TM, innovative fashion designers can beautifully move to the next stage of conscious fashion through lab-grown materials.

8. Future of Fashion – 3D Printed Fashion

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Recent waves of technological innovations targeting the fashion industry have led to an influx of tech-based designers seeking to showcase a new world of techniques, materials, manufacturing methods and creations.

For example, 3D printing and 3D design are just two of the most popular ‘tools’ used by emerging fashion designers, with Iris Van Herpen seen as the incontestable leader of the movement, given her amazing work at the edge of innovation, beautifully translated is creations out of this world.

Moreover, the latest developments in 3D printing see a shift towards bio and eco-friendly inks, which could be the beginning of a new era of 3D printed sustainable fashion, for a cleaner industry and a better world.

9. Future of Fashion – Augmented Reality Apparel

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Initially, the use of augmented reality in fashion has found a lot of traction in the retail side of the landscape and Gucci’s demo version of a shop for luxury garments is the perfect example. Styled as a dark garden filled with diamonds, attractive models, and pictures on the walls, the platform was designed to showcase the power of experiential e-commerce.

A similar AR experience project was launched by Zara across 120 stores. Sadly, not many people know that in certain Zara stores you can now hold up your smartphone to the store window and see AR models come to life, walking around, and wearing the latest trends.

However, while it seems that the adoption of AR in fashion retail is not quite there, the idea of AR hasn’t been abandoned, yet.

In fact, driven by the endeavours of Mathew Drinkwater, Head of Fashion Innovation Agency at London College of Fashion, a new realm of augmented reality garments gains traction fast.

In some ways, it makes a lot of sense as the whole point of fashion in general and luxury fashion, in particular, is to make shoppers dream; elusive aspirations of unique attires, ceremonious runway shows, photoshopped models in glossy magazines, all meant to design an unattainable world compared to the one they live in.

For that, AR has the most fitting in the world of fashion, especially now when we are becoming increasingly ‘digitised’, and one could argue that one day, AR-based apparel will become the norm.

Personally, I feel AR-based fashion has the potential of pushing the boundaries of what we understand fashion to be, by re-computing the nature of who we are, by affecting one’s idea of the self through the creation of a mixed (physical-digital) self.

A new concept of self-identity that could bridge the gap between the actual and ideal selves, however with unknown, potentially disastrous consequences for both, the self and fashion industry as we know it.

10. Future of Fashion – Artificial Intelligence Fashion

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The use of AI in the fashion industry has already found a home in customer service, in-demand forecasting, planning, buying, operations automation and supply chain inventory management, and more recently in trend spotting, product design and customisation.

However, the case of YOOX and their latest endeavour with 8, an AI-designed fashion label where the AI takes the role of a fashion designer is beyond the traditional areas of machine tasks.

It is a new role that touches the creative realm, blurring the line between technology, human, and creativity. The first question that comes to mind is, will consumers prefer AI-made or human-made fashion?

Traditionally, a human-made garment encapsulates craftsmanship, heritage, and history. It comprises the experiences, memories, life choices, and even the emotions of its creator.

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However, in the case of an omnipotent and salient AI, the ‘designer’ has access to the history, heritage, creation of entire humanity.

The AI fashion designer will select the most suitable materials for its intended creations, according to the most relevant manufacturing technologies, as inspired by humanity’s entire past. Inspired by our ‘evolutionary struggles’, as depicted in science, music and art. To complicate things a bit further, what about granting personhood to the AI fashion designer?

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Similar Read: AI Fashion Design – New Era Of Creativity?

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