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2019 May Go Down as the Year Trash Became Trendy

The fashion industry in 2019 behaved a lot like Gen Z.

Sustainability, inclusivity and the new sharing economy are among the movements that impacted fashion this year, according to Lyst’s “Year in Fashion 2019” report launched Monday. Based on searches, page views and sales metrics from more than 12,000 online stores and social media mentions, the global fashion search platform’s report signals a shift in consumerism where personal values trump fashion trends.

Overall, searches including sustainability-related keywords increased 75 percent year-on-year, amounting to 27,000 searches for sustainable fashion every month, according to the report.

Denim played a leading role in that awareness. Sustainable denim and sneakers were the most wanted product categories, Lyst reported, as several major players launched eco-conscious initiatives this year.

Levi’s continued its sustainable storyline with the addition of denim made from cottonized hemp in 2019. Los Angeles-based brands Boyish Jeans and Triarchy Denim stepped out as vocal advocates for water conservation. And Frame recently bowed its first capsule collection of jeans made from post-consumer plastic bottles and organic cotton.

Consumers also grew wise to eco materials. Repreve, Unifi’s branded recycled fiber made from PET bottles, made a compelling B2C story this year as brands like Express, Aeropostale and Devil-Dog Dungarees highlighted the fiber in their jeans. Searches for the material, Lyst said, increased 130 percent. Likewise, searches for Econyl grew 102 percent, organic cotton 52 percent and Tencel 42 percent.

The way consumers shopped in 2019 reinforced this new sustainable mindset. Luxury resale saw a 225 percent lift in searches, Lyst reported. Meanwhile, the rental business, which is now valued at $1 billion, became more accessible as brands like Urban Outfitters, American Eagle and Bloomingdale’s introduced the model into their strategies.

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And as consumers warmed up to responsible fashion, they embraced new notions of gender, diversity and representation in 2019.

Specifically, Lyst reported that searches for adaptive fashion rose 80 percent, while searches for modest fashion increased 80 percent. There was also a 52 percent increase in searches for the terms “genderless” and “gender neutral” with fashion. Denim brands like London-based I And Me keyed into this demand with its selvedge slim-leg jeans, painter pants and work pants shown on male and female models.

“Woke” consumers, Lyst said, sought out designers and retailers that aligned with their values and in response, some of the world’s most powerful brands launched diversity campaigns and programs to promote inclusivity. This year both Gucci and Chanel introduced newly created roles to enhance diversity and inclusion. And in March LVMH signed the UN standards of conduct for business, which fights against discrimination toward LGBTI people.

Only time will tell if 2019 laid the framework for a more sustainable and inclusive fashion industry, but with upcycling and gender-fluid fashion dominating Spring/Summer 2020 fashion weeks, consumers are on track to have more reasons to search.