Tuesday, November 20, 2007

trends + business + politics:
Leading Sustainable Fashion and Beauty Trends

The last decade has seen a rapidly growing transition between mindless consumerism to mindful consumerism. Industry has quickly responded by rolling out more "awareness driven" products that address the market changes. The "boom" that is driven by the expanding "LOHAS" market (all stuff as it relates to a lifestyle of health and sustainability), seem to be in the midst of a renaissance rather than a peak of a "bubble." All industry experts are expecting continued growth in areas such as green, organic, and alternative health and healing spending. Below is a list of several trends that are part of the expanding marketplace.

Big Brands Go Green

The Organic Exchange, a non-profit advocacy group, recently determined that the demand for organic cotton on the part of clothing makers is increasing at an annual rate of 93%. The organization projects that sales of organic cotton apparel will reach $2.6 billion by the close of 2007. Organic cotton apparel is now being offered by large labels and retailers such as American Apparel, Wal-Mart and Zara. Household brand names such as Nike have announced plans to determine exactly how to remove greenhouse gas from its sneakers, and Levi Strauss introduces an organic jeans line. Such shifts/investments in the market by big players point to a longer term play in the sustainable fashion market.

New Materials for the New Fashion Set

New materials are being integrated into fashion by the new "green" fashion set, as well as established labels. Use of fibers from wood pulp, bamboo, seaweed, soy and corn blends with organic silks and cashmere's are becoming increasingly common place.

Beauty Biz Gets Earth Conscious

Beauty industry is transforming with the steady market growth of 15% - 20% in annual sales over the past nine years in quality, natural, chemically-free and organically produced products. This natural organic trend represents a major lifestyle shift as is evidenced by Wal-Mart's interest in natural and organic personal care.

Health and Wellness Redefine Day Wear

The idea of what is day wear is changing as two-thirds of American women dedicate at least half of their closet space to active-wear. Women are increasingly not saving their workout clothes solely for the gym. Instead, they're trading traditional sportswear for active-wear as their casual apparel of choice. As a result active-wear manufacturers are taking a fashion forward approach and signing partnerships with high end designers. Examples of this include the recent deal between Stella McCartney and Adidas, and Alexander McQueen and Puma. This trend is also seen in the retail sector as retailers are shifting in the direction of "lifestyle" centered stores. American Eagle's new retail concept, Martin + Osa is dedicated to the concept of fusing high-tech sport and casual sportswear, creating a new lifestyle approach for the buyer. L.L. Bean, the grandfather of active-wear, is creating "bricks and mortar" shopping emporiums dedicated to celebrating the wearing of active-wear in the Great Indoors. Even the celebrity sector is getting in on the game; Scarlett Johansson will launch a line of urban active-wear next year in partnership with Reebok.

Spa Experience For The Masses

Style, beauty and pampering have always gone hand in hand. As style and beauty trends are shifting, so is the spa industry. The trend toward a more health and wellness centered lifestyle has transformed the idea of spa to something available to all consumers and not just the select few. Increasingly consumers are purchasing into product lines (body scrubs, wraps, masks etc) that they would typically get in a brick and mortar spa experience. People are clamoring to "Spa" on their own. Spa's are also getting in on the game, by selling the spa experience to the consumer in their home. An example of this is the Viceroy Palm Springs Resort & Estrella Spa, Palm Springs , CA, which now offers an "Ice House Treatment" where guests are provided with all of the necessary supplies and expected to perform the protocol themselves.

Overall the cultural shifts seem to point to a shift in the overall value put on health, wellness and a greater sense of consciousness that is not only transforming the lives of people, but also how they define and ultimately influence the culture of style worldwide.

*This article was in part based on an article by Alf Nucifora for "Fibre to Fashion"

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