Why does the fashion industry have to be more innovative?

Ayesha Hussain, Contributing Writer

Coco Chanel once said, “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” Then why does fashion repeat itself? Why do we succumb to fashion trends? Why do we believe that we have to wear what is “in?” Why not think outside of the box? Where is the pioneer to venture into this new area of innovative fashion? Why not create clothing that is not only visually aesthetic but serves a practical purpose — a purpose that makes life easier?

We, as humans, are constantly evolving — this includes our behaviors, attitudes, actions and impulse to improve. What is also changing is what we wear and how we wear it. Yet is it progressing fast enough? With the changing times come shifting societal needs. There are several groups that are still overlooked in the fashion industry and do not have the same access to a wide array of designs as some other groups. 

The fashion industry needs to re-frame its function by creating practical clothing for more than just the majority. For example, members of the transgender community need clothing that is comfortable as they transition through monumental peaks in their lives. Whereas doctors require silhouettes that allow for flexibility and movement when performing surgeries. Designers need to help steer away from stereotypical figures such as those that are tall, slim and blonde, and instead work to normalize all body types and recognize that clothing must vary depending on an individual’s needs and experiences. If they start promoting this idea now, the notion of body positivity can be ingrained for future generations. With that being said, plus-sized figures should have garments to choose from that are in a wide range of sizes which allow for comfort. Clothing stretches far beyond appearance, and when designers consider these overlooked needs the fashion world will become more inclusive and welcoming, a necessity if we wish to spark change within today’s society.

Fiber science, a field of design that experiments with fibers and textiles to formulate functional materials, has great potential to shape the future of fashion. The cross-section between science and fashion is a noteworthy one. This relationship allows for shirts with cooling abilities to reduce body temperature in high-intensity activities, as well as color-changing textiles. Colors are vital to consider when designing clothing, as one’s mood can be greatly affected by color. For example, hospital gowns made from these color-changing fabrics could have the ability to change depending on the wearer’s mood. That is, if a patient were upset, then the technology involved in the gown could change to yellow, a color associated with hope and positivity. New materials and technologies are constantly being developed that can help create ground-breaking fashion pieces in the years to come.

However, any progress within the fashion industry must also take into account the growing concerns of sustainability. The fashion industry is one of the most wasteful industries in the world, producing 92 million tons of waste a year. And yet, while approximately 95 percent of textiles can be recycled, many are not given the opportunity to be re-worked. To alleviate this issue, the industry must employ methods that will help reduce waste. This can be done by researching techniques to extract fibers from old clothing to be re-used in new clothing pieces. Rather than creating materials that will last one season before becoming worn out, companies must incorporate biodegradable materials into their designs and cultivate clothing from sturdier, longer-lasting textiles. Simply put, quality made clothing leads to less material waste.

So why should the fashion industry be more innovative? To meet the needs of overlooked groups in society, provide comfort and function, and to save the earth we live in. If the above changes can be adopted, maybe the fashion industry could help provide for a better future.

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