May 5, 2023

Fashion innovation in 2023

Theren Moodley
Theren Moodley
A decade's worth of fashion experience across; product design, development, sourcing & logistics

Although popular culture likes to think of the fashion industry as being ahead of the trend, fashion innovation in has been historically slow.

Innovation in the fashion industry is few and far between, especially when it comes to sustainable design and the sustainability, aspects of fashion innovation.

Check-out our more in-depth blog on that topic here.

However, slowly but surely in recent years, the industry has begun to shift towards incorporating more innovation in the fashion industry, including fashion innovation examples like:

Today we’ll look into this topic in more depth and answer the following questions

  • What is fashion innovation?
  • What are some examples of recent fashion innovation?
  • What is sustainable fashion innovation?

This trend is set to continue in 2023, as the world of fashion innovation is set to experience significant changes in the coming years.

We'll take a closer look at what fashion innovation in 2023 looks like, how it impacts the industry and the environment, and how independent fashion designers can leverage these trends to create more sustainable designs.

Let’s dive in 👇🏾

Emilie checking out some sustainable fabrics at PV 22
Emilie checking out some sustainable fabrics at PV 22

🧶 Fashion innovation 1 - Sustainable materials

Sustainability is at the heart of fashion innovation in 2023.

The most significant fashion innovation will come from the creation of new, more sustainable materials that are being produced at a commercial scale.

Innovation in the fashion industry will lead to a small but growing shift towards eco-friendly materials, with a focus on developing waste-free products.


One of these fashion innovations is the combination of recycled polyester and natural fibers such as bamboo, linen, and organic cotton.

This development will result in new material that is not only biodegradable but will also reduce overall waste production.

Biodegradable materials like MycoTex, made of mushroom mycelium, which can be grown into clothes.

Or Orange Fiber, made of orange peel, are another two fashion innovation examples in 2023.

Additionally, textiles made from sustainable fabrics such as hemp and flax seed are becoming an  increasing popular fashion innovation.

With farmers and manufacturers in Belgium and Portugal in particular leading the way in this innovation in the fashion industry.


Animal leather alternatives are a fashion innovation that will also gain popularity in 2023, driven by the rise of cruelty-free fashion.

Vegan leathers mad with mushroom and bamboo were all over PV Paris 2022, when we visited that event.

Companies like Bolt Threads are actively creating a sustainable strain of yeast to produce leather-like material using spider silk proteins.

This will bring the innovation of sustainable alternatives to animal leather to life both commercially and practically.


Finally the use of fabrics that are either recycled, reused or from dead stock is a fashion innovation that makes use of current market ready textiles,

It’s an innovation in the fashion industry that’s currently being pushed by larger brands such as; like Adidas and H&M, and de-stock providers such as Queen of Raw and Fabscrap.

Manufacturers from Portugal are at the forefront of sustainable textiles
Manufacturers from Portugal are at the forefront of sustainable textiles

⌚️Fashion innovation 3 - Smart wearable technology

The metaverse may have had a false start (cough cough), but clothing and technology is merging, and this is a fashion innovation we will see more of in the next few years.

With the growing demand for wearable devices, more sensors have become smaller, less obtrusive, and less expensive.

This fashion innovation thereby enables the creation of clothing pieces that track and measure body movements, heart rate and temperature in real-time.

As we’ve seen so far, innovation in the fashion industry takes many forms and this fashion innovation example is already being tested by sportswear giants like Nike and Adidas.

Additionally, companies focused on fashion innovation like, start-up Kojo Vision are developing smart fabric that can respond to temperature and humidity changes.

This innovation in the fashion industry therefore, leads to fabrics that not only regulate body temperature but also monitor humidity with efficiency.

If anyone has played sport in the last 10 years, brands like the Under Armour and Canterbury’s “hot” and “cool” skins, this fashion innovation will be no surprise.

Some companies are also developing e-textiles to replace rigid screens with flexible displays, leading to the creation of new wearable tech that is dynamic and tactile in design.

From fitness trackers to smartwatches, the growth of the wearable devices market will enable a wearable revolution in the coming decade.

Beyond just innovation in the fashion industry.

👚 Fashion innovation 2 - 3D Product Development

Although 3D product development has been around for almost a decade now it seems this fashion innovation is finally starting to reach mass adoption.

With fashion innovation providers like CLO and Browswear building newer and more complex versions of their software this innovation in the fashion industry is speeding up in 2023.

I spent almost 2 years building and selling this technology to large fashion brands such as; Hugo Boss, Champion and Tchibo, so I’ll keep it brief….

In summary the fashion innovation of 3D product development essentially uses CAD technology to design, create and iterate a fashion style in 3D.

Rather than using a flat sketch, handoff to a via a tech pack, and physical sample round.

This fashion innovation example means, because the garment is designed in 3D virtually, this fashion innovation allows designers to test fit, draping and other wearable essentials.

Meaning there should be less need for physical samples.

Less physical samples equals; quicker production lead-times, less physical waste, and more agile demand lead product development decisions.

Made closer to the final sale.

Which should lead to higher sales and more revenue.

Innovation in the fashion industry takes many forms, with me being lucky enough to build and sell this one.

This fashion innovation is not without it’s pitfalls however.

But I’ll save that for a later blog.

3D product development is a decade old fashion innovation
3D product development is a decade old fashion innovation

💾 Fashion innovation 3 - Data driven product development

Last but by no means least, data.

It’s all around us.

We can’t see it.

But it shapes our lives in more ways that we know.

Sticking to innovation in the fashion industry, data, and in particular data driven product development is a fashion innovation adopted by all market leaders today.

Like 3D product development, this is also an example of fashion innovation technology I had the pleasure of building and selling.

The fashion innovation of data driven product development takes many forms.

For legal reasons, cough cough, I can’t say the brands name but their model is a carbon copy of the SHEIN model that’s taken the world by storm.

Ethics and sustainability aside, I’m sure we can all agree the fashion innovation implemented by SHEIN, has set a benchmark for innovation in the fashion industry as a whole.

In summary the process is as follows.

  • Brand X has a very narrow and targeted target market, which it actively follows and engages with on social media
  • When it sees certain styles or assortments trending it quickly creates similar mockups in 3D and tests them with consumers on social media
  • Consumers then can order those styles, that do not yet exist
  • Within the week those orders are at the factory and created for consumers, shipped to them within 24 hours
  • The total lead-time from inspiration to delivery is two weeks. For most traditional fashion brands its 60 weeks plus…..

No wonder their growth is almost 100% year on year.

Is this fashion innovation sustainable


Does this innovation in fashion industry show other brands how to leverage data to shorten lead times and create products people actually want?

Of course.

🔚 Conclusion

The fashion industry is undergoing a significant shift towards fashion sustainability and innovation in 2023, impacting not only the business world but also the environment.

New materials, 3D product development, smart wearables, and data driven product development will play a role in this fashion innovation transformation.

The use of technologies like AI and machine learning in the design and production processes, along with sustainable materials, will promote more sustainable practices in the industry.

Checkout our specific blog on that here.

Innovation in the fashion industry in 2023, will uniquely be positioned to bring together fashion design, technology, and sustainability as they work towards creating a more sustainable and data driven industry.

As consumer support of eco-friendly products continue to increase, fashion designers can leverage these innovations in the fashion industry to make their designs more sustainable and more in-line with actual demand.

Fashion innovation will only become mainstream when designers and brands leverage innovation and technology to improve the industry.

And no we’re not biased.

Ok, maybe a little.

But can you blame us?

The data said so.

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