Sustainability and Gen Z: Milano Unica explores the future of fashion

For Spring-Summer 2021, Italy’s leading high-end textile and accessories show looks to the generation of digital natives for a trend forecast.

To grow up online is a unique concept: everything is available to you at the click of a button, and everything is ever-changing. For the first generation using the internet since birth, everything and nothing is new, so when imagining a future, the possibilities are endless. Perpetually connected, Gen-Z can do just about everything online: from shopping to socialising, there is a sense of community and togetherness about living URL. “Gen Z represents the sophisticated projection of 5.0 technology of the future while at the same time, on a behavioural level, it follows the same tribal dynamics of mankind since its inception” Stefano Fadda, art director of Milano Unica explains.

For the trends of SS 2021, Milano Unica has delved deep into this world, beginning with one assumption: “today’s youths find confirmation and self-confidence when they share rites, fashions, slang and passions within their group of friends. In other words, they live and are moulded by interacting with “the other members of their own tribe” writes the psychoanalyst Massimo Ammaniti.” This group dynamic allows for a setting and a following of trends through the forming of subcultures, of shared identities.

An important aspect of these shared identities is a social awareness, notably an environmental consciousness. As Ercole Botto Poala, President of Milano Unica asserts, “One can also say that Gen Z is the generation that is most aware of environmental issues, it is even the one that sparked green consciousness in the world”. The more this generation grows, and the more the eco-awareness rises, the more pressing it is for fashion, accessories and textiles to move forward into a sustainable future.

At Milano Unica’s first symposium on sustainability, a vibrant selection of guest speakers discussed this very idea. President of Milano Unica Ercole Botto Poala teamed up with Editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia and L’Uomo Vogue Emanuele Farneti, Bain & Company’s Claudia D’Arpizio, fashion critic Giusi Ferré, Pattern SpA CEO Luca Sburlati and HUNGER’s very own founder Rankin, also co-founder of Dazed & Confused and AnOther. Addressing diverse topics from consumer trends, ethics of language, the power of the media, sustainability processes and how to be ‘politically correct’ in the free expression of creativity, the panel provided much-needed insight into the future of fashion.

Uniting the future with the past, Milano Unica’s three key trends were conceived with these concepts in mind. The trends unite “5.0 technology with the aesthetic and content eccentricities of some tribes from the north to the south of the world, to determine a creative and cultural synthesis that establishes a connection between youthful aesthetics and ancestral tribal emotions, depicted within 3 symbolic landmarks, Mexico City, Los Angeles and Papua New Guinea.” These three aesthetic trends are detailed below:

TROPICAL RAVE IN MEXICO CITY mixes Mexican rituality with rave party techno tropical music. Here nature is the protagonist for prints and colours.

INDIAN CHILL OUT IN L.A. connects memories made of spices and riches from maharajahs with a passion for waves and the liberating energy of surfing. The style in this theme is decorative, sophisticated with colours of the vegan world and touches of rock ambient transgression.

 BRITISH CLUBBING IN PAPUA proposes an ideal comparison between the craftsmanship of the fire people and the sartorial tradition typical of English clubs. Comfort and elegance mingle and the hybridisation between hi-tech fabrics and raw natural fibres emphasise the importance of researching materials.

Moving towards progressive new beginnings in the world of textiles, accessories and beyond, Milano Unica asks the question “Can creativity be sustainable?”, and offers solutions for how it can and will be in the very near future.

wordsKitty Robson