Fashion Forecasts for 2017: Less cowhide, more denim, eye-popping sleeves — and concern for the planet

Feb. 1, 2017
Fashion ForecastBaylor fashion expert Lorynn Divita, Ph.D. (Photo by Sarah Hess)

‘Consumers are open to owning fewer things, but better ones,’ says Baylor University fashion author

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WACO, Texas (Feb. 1, 2017) — After years of wanting the cheapest prices possible for clothes, consumers are starting to consider how their clothes are made and their impact on the environment, says fashion forecaster/author Lorynn Divita, Ph.D., of Baylor University.

“People are more aware than ever of who is making their clothes and how they are produced,” says Divita, co-author of “Fashion Forecasting” (fourth edition) and associate professor of apparel merchandising in Baylor’s Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences.

“The most innovative brands are showing transparency in their manufacturing process and providing long-term quality and value – and consumers are showing increased willingness to pay more for those attributes. In keeping with the minimalism trend, consumers are open to owning fewer things, but better ones,” Divita said.

Divita says these changes are on the rise:

  • Synthetic leather and leather alternatives — such as new leather grown in labs from living cells — as well as repurposing of scraps are being used to meet continued demand for fashionable leather and leather-like products.
  • Athleisure — clothes originally designed for workouts and sports but commandeered for work or social events — is now a mature market, but what’s new is that its influence also is being felt in regular clothing. “Fabrics used in workout gear are being used in new and innovative ways – dresses, jackets and pants — clothes that are NOT meant for a workout. This means the clothes will have the comfort, performance and ease of movement in a fashionable way,” Divita said.
  • After last year’s emphasis on the shoulder, the new area for emphasis is the sleeve, with volume in bell-shaped or leg o’mutton sleeves as a focal point. “We’ve had the cut-out shoulders and off the shoulder look — the ‘cold-shoulder’ — and now people are kind of tired of that,” Divita said. “Having sleeves with volume will be different from what we’ve been seeing, and people will be attracted from the sheer novelty and a new area of emphasis.”
  • Denim is still a leading fabric, but not just for jeans. Denim jackets, dresses, skirts and shirts are driving denim’s growth, with personalization in the form of embroidery, patches, emojis and pins sparking sales. “In the 1970s, people would put patches on their jeans as a means of self-expression,” Divita said. “We’re seeing that kind of personalization once again.”

    Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


    After more than three years of evaluation and input from Baylor regents, deans, faculty and staff, and external entities, the Baylor Board of Regents approved the creation of the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences on May 16, 2014. This was also a direct result of identified priorities for strengthening the health sciences through Baylor’s strategic vision, Pro Futuris, which serves as a compass for the University’s future. The anchor academic units that form the new College – Communication Sciences and Disorders, Family and Consumer Sciences and Health, Human Performance and Recreation – share a common purpose: improving health and the quality of life. The new College is working to create curricula that will promote a team-based approach to patient care and will establish interdisciplinary research collaborations to advance solutions for improving the quality of life for individuals, families, and communities.

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