Must-Know Fashion Industry Trends for 2023

Michael Hickins | Content Strategist | May 30, 2023

In fashion, hemlines don’t rise or fall by half an inch from one year to the next; it’s more like there will be no hemlines at all this coming year. Yes, fashion industry trends come and go quickly, so what follows should be taken with a grain of salt.

There’s probably no more sudden fall from grace in the recent annals of the industry than “fast fashion,” the practice of churning out apparel, footwear, and accessories inexpensively and quickly to meet the latest consumer trends. Fast fashion, born during a decade of excess, is now seen as the poster child for wastefulness and everything unsustainable.

Sustainability has staying power as far as trends go because nothing short of the planet's future depends upon it. Another trend that may or may not end up in the trash—er, recycle bin of fashion history is gender neutrality—clothes that don’t conform to traditional female/male styling or even sizing. Another hot trend is influencer marketing. The individuals doing the influencing are sure to change in the coming years (or months), but not so much the influencing power of the glitterati. You be the judge of whether those fashion trends and the others laid out below have legs.

Key Takeaways

  • Sustainability, including efforts to drastically reduce textile waste, are points of emphasis for fashion brands, retailers, and their customers, particularly those in the Generation Z and millennial cohorts.
  • Catering to consumers who don’t want to be boxed into preconceived notions of gender and body morphology, fashion brands are creating styles that are more neutral in terms of both color and fit.
  • Fashion apparel and accessories are being accessorized with sensors that help consumers track their health. Brands are also using technology to change how clothing is made, including by replacing animal skins with fabrics developed in labs.

Fashion Trend Honorable Mentions

The following may not be the hottest fashion industry trends of 2023, but it seems like it was only yesterday that they were front and center:

Rethinking the returns free-for-all

In some ways, returns are the converse of sustainability due to all the added shipping/transport, as the fashion industry has long encouraged consumers to buy several sizes or colors of a given item and return the ones they don’t like or that don’t fit. This practice, known as “bracketing,” has dug into the profit margins of fashion retailers, which are adapting by trying to limit free returns and offering virtual try-ons.

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) adjustments

It turns out it’s not so easy selling directly to consumers. As digital costs rise and the complexity of serving diverse segments becomes apparent, brands are rethinking their channel strategies and redeveloping partnerships with retailers. Many brands are using DTC as proving grounds for new ideas. Lynn Power, CEO and founder of hair brand Masami, labels her company’s strategy “DTC-Plus,” in which it sells from its website and a store that carries Masami products alongside others.

Entering the metaverse

Gucci, L’Oréal, Saint Laurent, and Estée Lauder are among the fashion brands experimenting with virtual worlds and are generating revenue selling non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The appeal of these worlds is that they let consumers experiment freely, for instance, by dressing more daringly than they would in real life. For fashion brands, that’s an opportunity to introduce (or reintroduce) themselves to new generations of consumers in entirely new guises. Some brands even sell virtual outfits for characters in League of Legends, a popular multiplayer esports gaming platform.

The Future of the Fashion Industry

Technology advances will help define the industry's future, whether it’s 3D printing of clothing and accessories, new ecommerce features and functionality, technology used to create more personalized shopping experiences, or technology used to develop more sustainable materials, fabrics, and manufacturing processes.

Online shopping, in particular, is likely to continue having an outsize impact on the fashion industry, offering consumers a convenient, more sustainable, and sometimes more affordable way to shop. It also gives smaller fashion brands a better chance to compete with larger ones, making a wider range of styles available to consumers.

Get Ahead of Trends with Oracle

Apparel and footwear makers and retailers face major challenges, such as inflation, geopolitical instability, and shifting climate patterns, that directly affect demand for their goods. At the same time, they keep an eye on emerging trends that seem contradictory (see the power of influencers versus slow fashion). Some of the industry’s biggest names rely on Oracle Retail planning and management applications to help them forecast trends, set prices, manage inventories, and create marketing and promotion strategies.

Fashion Industry Trends FAQs

What is trending in the fashion industry?
One of the hottest trends in fashion is an emphasis among consumers for more environmentally sustainable and socially responsible business practices.

What are the five main sectors of the fashion industry?
The five main sectors of the fashion industry are footwear, apparel, luxury items in general (characterized by high-quality goods sold at high prices and with a premium on scarcity and exclusivity), accessories (which include handbags, watches, cufflinks, and the like), and fashion entertainment (which includes magazines and TV shows).

Is the fashion industry growing?
The fashion industry saw strong growth throughout 2021 and the first half of 2022, but growth slowed considerably in the second half of the year, according to McKinsey. Fashion industry revenues grew by 21% from 2020 through 2021, but the consultancy expects growth in 2023 to slow into the high single digits.

See how Oracle solutions, with built-in AI and machine learning features, help fashion retailers deliver an efficient shopping experience that meets consumers' needs.