Saturday, 10 September 2016

Review: Bread & Butter Presents the Future of Fashion

Image via Jolie Janine
One of the best bits of working in retail is going to trade fairs and discovering what's coming up next - under the radar brands, new fashion trends and changing consumer behaviour, which all comes together to form a preview of what the fashion industry will look like in the future. So last Friday, I was very excited to be able to attend the newly revamped Bread & Butter - originally a trade show for buyers and industry professionals, but now transformed into a "trend show for everyone", complete with sneak peaks of upcoming collections and various interactive experiences.

Whilst most people were crowding round to get a glimpse of Gigi Hadid launching her new collection for Tommy Hilfiger, A$AP Rocky's set or Nike's live workout session complete with DJ and booming music, I was more interested in the brands stepping out of their traditional retail models to look towards the future, such as Adidas's Futurecraft technology or Levi's take on the new industry buzzword, "personalisation".

Adidas's exciting foray into new textile technologies shows the impact that brands can have when they shape their strategy towards a more sustainable future, teaming up with visionary partners such as Parley for the Oceans, which works to clean up ocean plastic. As Eric Liedtke, adidas Group Executive Board member explained on the eve of COP21, "We want to bring everyone from the industry to the table and create sustainable solutions for big global problems. World leaders forging an agreement is wonderful, but we shouldn’t need to be told to do the right thing. The industry can't afford to wait for directions any longer." At the Bread&Butter, Adidas displayed this technology for all to see: 3D-printed soles and a woven upper both made from ocean plastic.

These days, the big industry focus is personalisation - using big data collected from the billions of online visits every year to provide a seamless, tailored and inspiring experience for every individual customer. But what if you took this concept and flipped it on its head, putting power back in the hands of the consumer to personalise their own style and think about the evolution of their own wardrobes without simply adding more items?

That's where the Levi's Tailor Shop comes in - a customisation and repair service for your existing denim products, simultaneously creating an individual style and reducing the environmental impact by reusing existing products. The brand has already done a lot of research focused on the environmental impact of its clothing - in 2007 and again in 2015, it conducted the industry’s first comprehensive lifecycle assessment of its core range, and with the Levi's Tailor Shop it's taking an even bigger step to put the craft back into garment production and getting customers to think about how their clothing is made.

This was the first year of Bread&Butter's reincarnation into a "trend show" rather than a trade show, and I'm very excited to see what will happen in future editions. I hope more brands start to up their game, and start to think about how they can truly innovate rather than just present their next collections. Adidas, Levi's and a few other brands have already demonstrated that they are starting to change their thinking - lets see how many others follow suite next year. It's definitely the future of fashion - one that we all have a responsibility to make sure is there for decades to come.

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