The challenge

Like any other sector, the fashion industry is not impervious to the threats presented by the world’s uncertain future, including climate change, resource scarcity, vulnerable economic conditions, changing consumer behaviour and so on. The challenge to the fashion industry then is in understanding these threats and taking appropriate action to safeguard its future, protect the environment and improve the lives of its customers, workers and suppliers around the world.

 

What we did?

Using futures thinking techniques and with the support of Levi Strauss & Co, we created four vivid scenarios exploring how climate change, resource shortages, population growth and other factors will shape the world of 2025 and the future of the fashion industry within it. They explore every aspect of the industry, from production of raw materials, through manufacturing and sale, to use and end of life.

Each scenario was designed as a tool to challenge companies’ strategies, inspire them with new opportunities and help them plan for the future, as well as a way to help students understand the challenges of the future and come up with ideas for sustainable products and services. We’ve brought each of the four scenarios to life in these four animations.

Our joint report, Fashion Futures 2025: global scenarios for a sustainable fashion industry, describes how fashion companies can be successful by becoming sustainable, and draws on Forum’s expertise in futures thinking and a series of in-depth interviews and peer reviews with fashion experts from around the world – in academia, trade unions, NGOs, manufacturing, design and retail. It outlines five lessons for the fashion industry and also includes practical ways that companies from all parts of the industry, as well as universities and colleges, can use the scenarios.

We also created resources specifically to help teachers and tutors - click here to find out more.

 

Impact

In 2009, we piloted a Fashion Futures module with students from the London College of Fashion’s MA Fashion and the Environment. Since then it has been used by more than 300 fashion colleges around the world, from Germany to China to North America.

Fashion Futures scenarios also provided the framework on which we built Cotton Futures, a set of targeted scenarios and a toolkit for use in the cotton industry. As part of that project we also developed a vision for the future of a sustainable cotton industry which has since sparked workstreams within multinational fashion brands.

Our work continues to have an impact, and both Fashion Futures and Cotton Futures were recently with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition in the USA.

 

Feedback

“For the fashion industry to be sustainable economically, it must be sustainable socially and environmentally too. These provocative scenarios challenge all of us to look beyond the short term and use our collective power to work to create the kind of positive world we’d like to see in 2025.”

John Anderson, President and CEO of Levi Strauss & Co.

 

"Companies need to be seeding innovation and new ideas now in order to thrive in a resource constrained world. We need thought-provoking research like Fashion Futures to help us collaborate and advocate for the right future solutions around the most important issues on sustainability."

Hannah Jones, Vice President, Sustainable Business and Innovation, Nike Inc.

 

Get in touch

Planning on running a workshop session at your company or college? Then please get in touch as we would love to help out. Similarly, if you would like us to speak at an event or just want to know more about the project, please don’t hesitate to get in contact.

 

Media coverage:

  • Independent, 4 March 2010, "Owning stuff is out," says fashion trend forecaster
  • Fast Company, 1 March 2010, Fashion Forward: A Sustainability Report Helps Clothing Brands Plan for the Future
  • Dexigner, 25 February 2010, Fashion Futures Scenarios Explore Fashion World of 2025

 

Enjoyed this? Here are some other Futures projects you might like to read:

  • Tea 2030 - exploring the challenges facing the tea sector's future – and how to overcome them
  • The Five Capitals - looking at the five types of sustainable capital
  • Tourism 2023 - helping the travel and tourism industry plan for a sustainable future