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Wednesday, Sep 23, 2020

Indian millennials, ‘silver wave’ shoppers and sustainable practices will define fashion and design trends in the 2020s

New technologies, fresh philosophies, the global environmental crisis and shifting demographic spending power will all define the face of fashion, design, interiors and travel in the decade ahead

The dramatic rise of India’s millennial population and its impact on fashion spending was among the major trends discussed at the second edition of Next Design Perspectives, hosted by Italian luxury association Altagamma Foundation in Milan, with leading players from fashion, design, interiors and travel offering differing perspectives on developing issues.

“We need to invent new technologies, new machines, new ways to regenerate resources in a circular way so that resources become infinite. This is the goal of the conference, and the role of the design industry as the ultimate responsible player in society,” says Andrea Illy, president of Altagamma and CEO of coffee company Illycaffè.

Altagamma has partnered with trend forecasters and data scientists WGSN to identify new developments affecting design and creativity. From the fashion consumer age gap to building a circular economy, we round up prominent trends that will shape the future.

Youth of India

It’s not news that Chinese millennials take the crown for the world’s top spending power. However, in the next decade, millennials in neighbouring India will be an equally important segment to watch.

India is expected to become the country with the youngest population in the world this year with an average age of 29, while 64 per cent of the nation’s population will be of working age.

A Morgan Stanley report shows that the coming year will see the population of millennials in India exceed 410 million, with a projected spending power of US$330 billion annually. This not only exceeds the number of Chinese millennials but is also greater than the total population of the US.

In contrast to other developed countries, including the US and European nations, Indian millennials are the leading source of income for this future global powerhouse, according to Deloitte’s “Trend-setting Millennials” report.

In common with their Chinese counterparts, this generation are brand conscious, digital-savvy and value a holistic shopping experience. However, the widespread belief that younger consumers are moving away from bricks-and-mortar retail towards online purchasing is not the whole picture. Physical shopping remains a significant channel for consumers to engage and interact with brands; omnichannel is the key.

Demographic change, together with advantageous trade policies, an expanding middle class and higher social media penetration are expected to contribute to the country’s luxury landscape taking off dramatically – if it hasn’t already done so.

Silver wave

However, while India is expecting a youth boom, the world in general is ageing. According to the United Nations, the population of “silvers” – those aged 65 and over – will increase from eight per cent of the world’s population in 2015 to 13 per cent by 2035, and will account for over a third of total population increase through to 2035.

Coresight Research indicates that consumers aged 65-74 are still spending similar amounts on discretionary goods and services such as clothing, transport and dining to younger households. With silvers such as baby boomers having more disposable time and money, in their retirement, they continue to travel and tend to outspend the average amount laid out by other generations.

While the millennial juggernaut contributes to a longer business cycle, and can wield considerable influence on the way brands plan for the future, senior consumers possess greater net wealth than younger households and can contribute to immediate revenue.

In terms of shopping channels, there will be growing demand for convenience among the silver demographic. Hence, businesses offering home delivery and e-commerce are likely to take the lead.

McKinsey says that in China in 2020 there will be an extra 126.5 million citizens who are 65 or older. Despite the established tradition of saving for harsh times, they are willing to spend more on discretionary items such as clothing, travel and leisure than the same age group in years gone by.

Reduce and recycle

Sustainability continues to be a controversial global issue. Overconsumption and the inevitable disposal of excess purchases in past decades has become a serious environmental problem worldwide. As entrepreneurs and technology develop fashion into a new frontier of the sharing economy, from peer-to-peer wardrobe exchange to B-2-C renting, fashion could be recycled rather than cast away, a trend that is set to continue. Meanwhile, the resale model will advance as a serious alternative for circular fashion.

Burberry has partnered with The RealReal, a luxury consignment marketplace, to encourage customers to resell old items from the label on the platform. In return, customers taking part are rewarded with the more exclusive shopping experience the brand offers.

In September, Gucci announced its intention of becoming a carbon-neutral company by offsetting emissions that are either inevitable or impossible to reduce through innovation or technology. It certified its spring/summer 2020 fashion show held in September as a sustainable event by donating 2,000 trees, including 200 planted by CEO Marco Bizzarri, to the city of Milan to fully offset the CO2 emissions produced by the show.

“Fashion or creativity is about freedom, self-expression, and respect; respect in terms of value and the environment,” says Bizzarri.

Home, sweet home

WGSN finds that, stimulated by economic pressure and environmental awareness, workers are transforming their homes into multifunctional spaces for living and working. The desire to look after one’s self and cultivate better mental health makes the home a sanctuary where people spend more time than usual.

The increase in the number of people working remotely, using their homes as a workplace, is affecting how consumers and businesses decorate homes and offices, from the colour scheme to materials and ergonomic choices.

For instance, Pantone chose classic blue as the official colour of the year in 2020.

“Instilling calm, confidence and connection, this enduring blue hue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era,” Pantone colour experts explain.

Dulux, on the other hand, elected tranquil dawn as their colour of the year, a shade inspired by the morning sky, to give homes “the human touch”.


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Winston S. Churchill
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