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These Consumer Shifts and Trends Will Impact Textiles in 2020-21

The new decade already has a lot on its plate: global political turmoil, a climate crisis, trade tensions and a general instability that has given fodder for uncertainty.

And in line with art mimicking life, textiles have taken cues from the market’s current state, contributing to emerging trends that will define home and apparel textiles in the 2020-21 season.

“The aesthetic approach is very much influenced by this instability,” Anja Bisgaard Gaede of Denmark’s SPOTT trends consultancy, said at the recent Heimtextil trade show in Frankfurt. What’s more, she added, “Designers are turning to making things in a new way.”


One trend that has already had its effect is redefinition—a redefinition of materials, of how they’re made and of how they find their way into modern design.

Companies will continue to make textiles out of things like marine waste and other bio-based raw materials. In the Netherlands, Eric Klarenbeek and Maartje Dros are converting algae into bioplastic for 3D printing. While the team is so far focused on printing things like bottles and tableware, others are using algae for fabric dyes and chairs.

“It’s redefining how we are thinking of materials as resources,” Gaede said.

Digitization is also reshaping fashion, with digital clothing helping companies test the market before buying into fabric or overbuying (which could begin to help the sector’s excess inventory problem), and digital avatars are bringing brands into the gaming world and opening up a new way for brand discovery and the path to purchase.

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“We’re redefining how we are viewing e-shopping,” Gaede said, adding that, beyond a company’s e-commerce site, consumers will be shopping through games, social media and on influencer-curated sites and pages.

And as material resources change, so do the expectations for garments. Whereas perfection was prized in years past, now there’s appeal in imperfections or the aesthetic created from repurposed materials.

“We are looking at garments in a different way,” Gaede said. “We can highlight or emphasize that they are a little bit broken. If there’s a hole, maybe we can do a beautiful stitch around it so it can still be used. It’s a redefinition of how we’re viewing our clothing and also our behavior towards fashion.”

Emotional satisfaction

As consumers grow increasingly dissatisfied with what’s happening in the world, they are carving out spaces and practices that inspire wellness—and that means they’re buying better products that serve an emotional need, plus, they’re buying less.

“Immaterial emotional satisfaction is really, really important,” Gaede said. “Emotional transformation is what it is that we’re actually seeking as consumers. As a result of that, we are having all the products that we need. Maybe we don’t need more products, but we need some kind of emotional connection.”

The charge for companies, she explained, will be to make material emotional satisfaction first and then add the product to that.

So far, immersion has proved the most popular for creating that connection. That’s why festival culture has gained interest and attention in recent years—festival goers are diving into the experience. More and more, restaurants are creating immersive experiences that give diners a sense that they’ve escaped from all else around them. B&Binge, for one, has tapped into binge-watchers’ desire to dive into the programs they’re watching by recreating sets that, in effect, allow viewers to watch their favorite shows from ‘inside’ their favorite shows.

In a similar vein, consumers will continue to find satisfaction by making concerted efforts to lessen their footprints, and they’re buying—or not buying—accordingly.

“Climate consumerism is definitely going to be on the rise from now on and moving forward,” Gaede said. Now, she added, “Some of the products are being developed from an agenda that is more climate oriented.”

And the businesses that can deliver on this will win big favor with buyers.

At Arctic Blue Resort in Finland, guests who are going green, like watching their water consumption, food choices or use of electricity, will pay less for a night’s stay.

“Your price depends on how carbon neutral you are in your lifestyle,” Gaede explained. “I think this is a direction we’re going to view more and more…like social credits.”

Craft spirituality

The craft movement has seen success in recent years, and it answers a similar need for emotional satisfaction as consumers focus on creativity and adding beauty back into the world.

“We’re seeing that the craft movement is, of course, very, very big,” Gaede said. “Craft has become a spiritual experience for people.”

As evidence of the trend, she pointed out that 5-Minute Crafts ranks No. 4 on YouTube’s top subscribers list, according to G2.

The interest in craft has influenced home textile trends like Maximum Glam, which draws on collaged textiles, juxtaposed patterns, beading and embroidering to create a modern ‘more is more’ look.

Textiles and apparel will be created with an artistic approach, according to Gaede.

“Sometimes it’s within artists’ works that we find inspiration…it’s almost like an abstract painting whose patterns that we want to see in the interior textiles,” she explained. “It’s very handmade, nothing that is standard, nothing that is put in a box, it’s different patterns, different textures, different colors put into this more eclectic style.”

Here, handwritten patterns, lines that aren’t completely solid, colors that come together, and textiles applied on top of one another, will be a key look.

Home and heritage

With everything coming at them, consumers who are looking in and focusing more on wellness in their lives are also naturally drawing on home as a cocoon of comfort, and heritage as a reflection of better days.

“It has to do with longing back, escapism giving us that comfort that we need,” Gaede said. “Going into décor, we also really want to exhibit our history. We want to exhibit our heritage, but in an old-fashioned way.”

As such, storytelling comes into play, both as a way consumers want to be addressed by the brands they buy from—they want to understand the history and ethos behind the company and the product—and how they want to present themselves to the world.

“It’s exhibiting different ornaments and building up stories of that,” she said. “It’s storytelling that we can launch ourselves into, emotional satisfaction.”

Textiles will come with homemade elements, channel heritage paintings and patterns, like vintage florals, and call on Roman antique styling or floor and wall coverings from ancient structures.

“There is an importance and a very inline focus right now on heritage and culture,” Gaede said.