Pleats, boiler suits, outlandish accessories… What does 2019 hold in store for global fashion trends? Perhaps the most significant outlook for 2019 is that it’s the year in which China is expected to take over from the United States as the world’s largest fashion market.

However, the Spring 2019 collections were still launched, mainly in the traditional fashion centres of Milan, London, Paris and New York. Leading brands marked a return to a number of trends like the use of “craft” fabrics and materials, with the use of crochet and other hand-made looking materials.

Even the prairie dress has made a comeback, along with a number of other throwbacks to the 1980’s, including Princess Di-worthy formal skirts, and a dominance of beige and earthy colours.

Prairie Dresses from Erdem’s 2019 collection

A Call to Action. In reaction to the #metoo movement, a strong trend across collections was creating clothes that make women feel confident and powerful.

Perhaps in response to that, biker pants paired with more formal wear including statement jackets, and graphic-punchy fabrics often mixed with other patterns featured prominently, as did bold colours, including florals, especially orange, as part of the 2019 lines.  

Fashion colours for Spring/Summer 2019

Unless that is, you’re Japanese master Yohji Yamamoto whose Paris-launched 2019 collection stayed predominantly with black. His show was notable for its soundtrack, created by him and a woman collaborator “which demarcated three distinct themes…anti-racism, anti-crazy global warming, anti-genderless fashion.” Yamamoto epitomises the growing trend, much needed according to leading industry observer Imran Amed, for the fashion industry “to take an active stance on social issues.”

Nowhere was the call-to-action better reflected than in an email from industry veteran Alexa Chung, a model who recently started her own label, about her fears about the sustainability of fashion: “The most pressing issue for me right now is the environmental impact of fashion on the planet.” Expect these calls for sustainability to grow, driven by customer demand, in 2019.

Alexa Chung and her clothing line

Sustainability. Responding to the sustainability call, fashion labels like Gung Ho have been created, born out of an ambition to push boundaries in sustainable fashion. Every collection of theirs is not just handmade locally using sustainable fabrics, but also centres on an environmental issue.

Gung Ho – fashion with a conscience

In the case of Who Made My Clothes fashion purchasing can be also made consciously with an awareness of the total product cycle. Whether it clothes made out of recycled bottles, fashion lines like Swedish Gudrun Sjoden’s that use yarns sourced from textile industry remnants or fashion products made entirely from hemp in New South Wales, Australia, the fashion industry is slowly but surely moving towards a more sustainable future. Expect this trend to grow in 2019.  

In this increasingly conscious fashion marketplace, look for fur-free garments–as Gucci has already pledged–and clothing vegans can comfortably wear as examples of fashion trends in 2019.

Asia on the Runway. Given the growing size and significance of the Asian fashion market, will we see more Asian-influenced fashion design in 2019? In cities such as Milan and London, Chinese design elements are increasingly visible on catwalks. Laurence Xu’s beautifully designed uniforms for Hainan Airlines feature traditional Chinese imagery and show how Asian design influences can sit stunningly in contemporary wardrobes. 

Laurence Xu’s uniforms for Hainan Airlines

The fashion industry throughout Asia is thriving. Manila with its nascent fashion scene held its first Fashion Week in November 2018, while Seoul’s Fashion week reveals stunning Asian designers with a uniquely Asian flair. Watch for more Asian influence on global fashion design in 2019, including designers like Guo Pei, the Beijing native who shot to fame when she dressed Rihanna at the 2015 Met Gala in that stunning yellow gown. 

Influencers. Other Asian designers whose influence is growing–not just in Asia–include the Paris-based Dutch-Vietnamese designer Xuan and Korean-Danish Hyun Mi Nielsen, who honed her skills at fashion houses like Burberry and Alexander McQueen. And in a digital age, who could deny the influence of online sites like Chictopia, an international social media site focused on fashion founded by Shanghai-born Helen Zhu. Online influences on fashion will continue to grow in 2019.

Hyun Mi Nielsen 2019

Other influencers in 2019 will include Beijing-based Xander Zhou, the designer who has successfully established a cult-fan base domestically and internationally, and is at the forefront of a new wave of young Chinese designers that are crafting a new menswear aesthetic. Zhou recognises the importance of the fashion market for men. 

Xander Zhou 2019

The enduring role of Japan’s top designers cannot be overlooked including Yohji Yamamoto and Yuima Nakazato, the Tokyo-born designer who has dressed the likes of Lady Gaga. As Japanese clothing stores Muji and Uniqlo significantly expand their outlets their simple fashions designs for men and women will have an enormous impact on the fashion worn by millions in 2019. 

Colours, fabrics, styles, and accessories will evolve in exciting new directions in 2019, but the biggest fashion trends to watch will have much to do with sustainability and the growing dominance of the Asian market. The fashion industry is now a global industry that is increasingly diversified and multicultural. Watch carefully as 2019 will see this evolution progress quickly.