The 10 trends that will define the fashion industry this year

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The 10 trends from The State of Fashion 2024, the annual benchmark report by The Business of Fashion (BoF) and McKinsey & Company, highlight growth opportunities that industry leaders can seize, even in the current environment of uncertainty and instability.

The fashion industry looks at 2024 with apprehension. The feeling of uncertainty stands out among fashion leaders, according to the BoF-McKinsey State of Fashion 2024 Executive Survey. Despite facing a combination of geopolitical, economic, and climatic events that raise concerns, these executives see reasons for optimism, and the report highlights 10 opportunities for 2024.

1. A fragmented future

In 2024, economic prospects will likely remain unstable. As economic and geopolitical challenges weigh on consumer confidence, the fashion market faces different forces, requiring suppliers, brands, and retailers to strengthen their contingency plans.

2. Climate urgency

The frequency and intensity of meteorological phenomena in 2023 left the fashion sector's value chain particularly vulnerable. With the worsening of climate risks across continents, the industry must build resilience and continue to reduce emissions.

3. Holiday mode

Consumers are gearing up for the biggest year of travel since the pre-pandemic era. Brands and retailers should consider refreshing their strategies to meet the demand of travelers.

4. The new era of influence

A new array of creative personalities is gaining the attention of brands, winning the trust and sympathy of key audiences. Working with these personalities in 2024 will require new types of partnerships, emphasis on video content, and a willingness to relinquish some creative control.

5. The reinvention of outdoors

The boom in demand for outdoor technical clothing was fueled by the post-pandemic adoption of healthier lifestyles and "gorpcore," and is likely to intensify further in 2024. More outdoor brands will launch lifestyle collections, and, in turn, more lifestyle brands will incorporate technical elements into their collections, further blurring the boundary between functionality and style.

6. Generative AI creative crossroads

After the generative AI boom in 2023 and successful use cases throughout the creative industry, there is an opportunity to capture the value of this transformative technology in 2024. This will require fashion players to envision beyond automation and explore its potential to complement human creative work.

7. Power moves in fast fashion

Competition in the fast fashion sector will increase even more next year. New competitors, led by Shein and Temu, are changing the market landscape. Success will depend on the ability of market players to adapt to evolving consumer preferences while navigating regulations that may affect the industry.

8. Branding focus

Branding will be back in the spotlight next year – the fashion industry is faced with a changing landscape where performance marketing is no longer the focus. Consumer emotional connection to brands will be critical, and fashion marketers must realign their strategies to emphasize long-term brand building.

9. Sustainability regulations

The era of self-regulation for sustainability in the fashion industry is coming to an end. In all jurisdictions, new sustainability regulations may have a widespread impact on the market. Brands and manufacturers are faced with the need to revamp their models.

10. Whip effect

Changes in demand have resulted in a "whip effect," where order cuts increase in magnitude in different parts of the supply chain, putting pressure on sector suppliers. To ensure the supply keeps up with the expected renewed demand, brands and retailers should consider focusing on transparency and strengthening strategic partnerships.