fashion forecast 2050
From the Fashion-Incubator, Kathleen asks us:
What would the effect on our industry be if gas prices doubled over the next ten years? What if they tripled or quadrupled over twenty to twenty five years? Any prognosticators in the crowd?
The consensus at F-I is that increased energy costs would favour local producers but would severely affect the availability of raw and therefore processed materials. The most significant obstacle noted by Kevin Carson:
The how-to information is out there, and the building blocks of local production are already widely distributed. The question is whether people can get over the learning curves, and put the building blocks together, faster enough to cope with the dislocation.
We live in an affluent but dependent world (those of us with internet connections), rich with education but poor in applicable skills when it comes to producing things. There will be a leap of ingenuity required and it seems that many will be unprepared for. The quality of things produced availably can be expected to be less and of poorer quality than the cheap abundance we are used to.
Still, I am not sure that widescale chaos will erupt as a result of soaring energy costs. Things will be different, for sure. Humans are very adaptable. For what it is worth, here is some prognostication, though I have pushed the date of my prognostication to a lovely round numbered year.
The most affordable materials will be the ones produced closest to you. In the case of most cities, this will be garbage. Garbage economies will spring up to reap the rewards of another generation’s refuse.
The most fashionable materials will be the most unavailable. For people in Toronto, that would be virgin cotton or silk, or as Canada produces hardly any fibers or fabrics, practically any virgin fiber.
Since there are no weaving factories left in Canada, most new fabric will likely be knit either by machine or by hand. Fur will become more common. New woven garments will be an exotic rarity.
There will be a larger divide between rich and poor than there is now, although quality of life will decrease somewhat for everyone. The rich will be more likely to have their clothing tailored and updated to reflect the trends – yes fashion will go on with the usual variations. The poor will wear a previous generation’s castoffs. There will be a slightly more defined difference between the dress of the rich and the poor than there is now.
With less energy, buildings will be heated less in the winter and cooled less in the summer. Clothing will reflect this – winter clothing will be insulated and layered and summer clothing will be loose and light. The strength of the UV rays will be much stronger with less particulate matter in the air – clothing worn outside will often be sun-protective. Outer clothing will be washed less often.
Rising inflation suggests that wealth will be more likely to be worn as jewelry than saved in the bank. This is one of the factors that creates starker differences between the dress of the rich and the poor.
Clothing that takes more skill to make will become hyper-valuable, as will anyone with any skills in this regards. Shoes will certainly be affected by this – cobblers are rare here in North America, most of the ones I am aware of will be dead in 2050. Good shoes in the most common sizes will be extremely dear. Improvised substitutions for shoes are more common. There will be more shortages of things, and less variety available in everything. Local cuisines will develop; and so will more extreme regional variations in dress.
Wages will be generally depressed, bringing greater world parity when it comes to the cost of labour, but also much less consumer spending. There will probably be a lower level of employment as the economy is in the process of shrinking. There will be less productivity, so fashions will also change more slowly. People will be thinner on average than they are now, meaning that the idealized fashionable body will become more voluptuous.
There will be a decrease in productive fertility too, by necessity. It is hard to tell if this will result in more or less equality for the sexes, which historically is a major determining factor for how people dress. Unfortunately if major social trends in the modern Western world are taken to their logical conclusions, it may be a far more religious and conservative society in 2050 than we have now. There may still be access to information but it may be protected by elite gatekeepers. Clothing reflecting a greater power divide between the sexes means that men’s and women’s clothing will be less similar, more defined and restrictive.
Just a guess. Whatever actually happens will probably be way more interesting. So, what do you think you’ll be wearing in 2050?