Jan 03, 2024
by Karl Smith
2023 Deep Dives: A Year Exploring the FUTUREVVORLD
by Karl Smith
Jan 03, 2024

2023 is over, and – in a sense – there’s little use dwelling on the past. But, in another, looking back is vital: charting the right course forward invariably means understanding where you’ve come from and what, exactly, is behind you.

With this in mind, we figured that the best way of starting a new year would be to reflect on what happened in the last one: to unpack all the progress and the setbacks of 2023 in fashion, footwear, design, technology, and beyond, that have gotten us to the starting point of 2024.

Of course, we already put the work in on this – already wracked up tens of thousands of words and hundreds of hours of research exploring the trends and changes that defined the industry (or industries) to better understand what comes next.

In 2023 we explored the limits of sustainability, the world of Blue Beauty, the problem of plastics, the ever-pressing question of fashion waste, the future of footwear, the state of material innovation, and a whole swathe of other topics we decided were in need of investigation.

So, if you’re looking to get a head start on 2024, dive in. And, if you like what you read – and you want to read more – let us know which of these topics is piquing your interest the most via the poll above.

Sustainability Is Dead. (Long Live Circularity!)

Is “sustainability” in fashion and footwear really making the changes we need to see? Is “sustainability,” as a concept, even fit for purpose, or are we desperately in need of a new way of thinking if there’s any chance of progress in the industry?

Could Blue Beauty Help Save Our Oceans?

Beetween the chemicals, the carbon emissions, and the petro-plastic packaging, Beauty has a lot to answer for when it comes to its negative effects on our planet. Focused more on working in harmony with the natural world and on rethinking the Industry’s hard-ingrained status quo, could Blue Beauty provide a better way forward?

Are “Vegan” Products Bad for Sustainability?

Just because something says it’s vegan, that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. And it certainly doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good for the planet. Are brands co-opting the cause for marketing value and creating more problems for the Earth in the process?

Beyond Bolt: Finance, Fashion and the Future of Material Innovation

When it comes to next-generation anything, there’s always take of money. While most of that talk focuses on how badly it’s needed in order to create meaningful change, should we be thinking more about what that money – and the scrutiny that comes with it – actually does to material innovation companies? With Bolt Threads putting an end to MYLO production and Renewcell struggling to shift its product, should shareholder profits really come before progress?

Is a Zero-Waste Future Even Possible?

We all want to see less waste – in fashion, in footwear, and, of course, in terms of the planet in general. But what actually has to change for a low-waste or zero-waste future to even show up on the distant horizon? Is it even something worth working toward, or just a pipe dream for people with good intentions?

The Future of Footwear Is… Farming?

We already know the future isn’t leather – not animal leather, at least – but what comes next? With shoes made from corn, from pineapple, from cactus, and from all kinds of other plants now already on the market, it feels like new alternatives are cropping up every day – but, with future-facing contenders like mycelium and bacteria also making an impact on the industry, what is the future of footwear actually made from?

Fashion Innovation vs. Fashion Activism: Should We Have to Choose?

Loud voices are almost always heard, but that doesn’t mean they’re appreciated and it certainly doesn’t mean they’re understood. Speaking to influencers, campaigners, and material innovators, we ask whether public protest from organizations like PETA is helping the cause or hurting it.

Recycled Plastic Won’t Save Us. Could Recycled Leather?

Once upon a time, we thought recycling alone might save the planet. It feels simplistic now, to say the least, but does recycled plastic still have a part to play in our shared future? Or are there other, perhaps even more progressive, ideas waiting to be found – perhaps in some unlikely places?

Should We Really Ban Fast Fashion Resale?

We all know fast fashion is bad – unsustainable in the truest sense of the word. But does banning fast fashion garments from resale platforms like Vestiaire Collective, which recently launched a stringent campaign to remove labels like H&M and SHEIN from its pages – really provide a fix for the problem, or is taking those clothes out of circulation just a greenwashing marketing ploy destined to make things worse?

Why Won’t Sneaker Brands Stop Using Leather?

It’s happened to us all: you think you’ve found a new pair of vegan sneakers, you’ve probably already put them in your cart, and then – suddenly – you realize that, for absolutely no good reason, the brand has slapped a suede accent onto the side of a shoe made without any other animal-derived elements. Why? What compels a label to add leather to the equation when there is no reasonable need for it to feature at all?