When Coco Chanel declared that “fashion passes, style remains” she couldn’t have known how applicable that would be fifty years on. With every season we see more colors, collections and styles as never before. Although fashion moves faster and faster the concept of clothing hasn’t changed much in over 100 years.
Textile still covers bodies and signifies social code. Fabrics are still sewn with needles and sold in stores. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to disrupt the 1.7-trillion-dollar industry but shouldn’t there be something more progressive than design and style changes? Shouldn’t there be innovation that alters the entire concept of clothing?
Titled The Next Black, this 45-minute long documentary charts the future of fashion, touching on everything from the environmental pitfalls of fast fashion to wearable technology to a future in which we might not even need clothes, and instead have something like “digital skin.”
‘The Next Black’ is an exploration of the future of clothing, profiling forward-thinking companies who are at the forefront of redefining how and what we wear:
heroes of sustainability, Patagonia;
tech-clothing giants, Studio XO;
sportswear icon, Adidas;
and Biocouture, a consultancy exploring living organisms to grow clothing and accessories.
Fabric grown from bacteria. T-shirt designs that “refresh” themselves. Or how about a new way to dye fabrics without water or pollution? These are ideas for the future of fashion that blend style and sustainability.
The fashion world tends to look forward no further than the next season, and sometimes less. “Fashion is concerned with what’s happening in the next five minutes,” says Suzanne Lee, founder of Biocouture, a company that’s trying to do the opposite.
Rather than focusing on temporary shifts in color or style, she’s thinking decades ahead and fundamentally reinventing how clothing can be made. Biocouture is growing new fabric from bacteria using a process more like brewing beer than making any other textiles. The company hopes that eventually clothing could be grown directly on dress forms, creating zero waste.
On another end of the spectrum, the film also talks with a designer from Adidas, who explains how the future of wearable tech will go far beyond wristbands.
Studio XO, a company pioneering interactive digital fashion, shares their vision for a “Tumblr for the body”—a subscription service for clothing that could automatically refresh itself as you wear it (picture a T-shirt with an ever-evolving print curated by designers or your friends).
It’s fascinating stuff, and a thread of sustainability also runs through the film. We hear from the Yeh Group, which is pioneering a way to dye fabrics without water or pollution, and from Patagonia, which has asked its customers to buy less and learn to repair what they own.
Right now, American consumers alone buy around 20 billion pieces of clothing every year—more than one item every week. Making all of those clothes takes trillions of gallons of water and millions of tons of coal; something obviously has to change. This film gives a glimpse of a few ways that could happen.
The film was made by UK appliance manufacturer AEG and the production company House of Radon.