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The 2021 Roundup

Updated: Jan 18

As the new year approaches, we look back at an eventful year that saw the fashion industry evolve like never before. With sustainability remaining central to conversations, we saw a growing interest in circular fashion, conscious fabric choices and manufacturing processes as brands vowed to take their environmental responsibilities to new levels. Digital fashion became a primary focus with major game players trialling virtual platforms and preparing for the metaverse. Unexpected collaborations brought a refreshed excitement to the industry, with partnerships becoming increasingly unconventional. On the back of Black Lives Matter, we saw a rise in brands representing a more diverse audience. Meanwhile, pop-ups took centre stage in the physical retail space, providing consumers with Instagrammable immersive experiences. See the key concepts of 2021 and strategies that made waves in the industry below.


The past year saw the resale and rental markets surge, while mindful consumerism spurred a new wave of services implementing circular strategies, including brands taking ownership of their product lifecycle.

M&S Trial Rental Service

M&S paired with clothing rental website Hirestreet as they trialled their rental service ahead of the Christmas season. The initial offering included 40 womenswear pieces starting from £13 for four days for an accessible scheme that gives consumers an alternative to traditional consumption.

Dotte Resale Collective

Peer-to-peer marketplace Dotte unveiled the Dotte Resale Collective, a platform aiming to reduce the impact of fast fashion. The platform encourages parents to buy well and resell, promoting a more circular approach to the short lifespan of kids’ fashion. More and more brands are embracing resale opportunities, creating their own platforms to minimise environmental damage while forming a community of like-minded, brand-loyal consumers.

Farfetch x The Restory

Farfetch teamed up with The Restory to launch Farfetch Fix, an aftercare system to promote a circular product lifecycle. Customers book a collection that they want to restore through the marketplace, then the products are transported to the London based atelier to be assessed for a quote. Once approved by the customer, the team will begin the restoration.


The ongoing pandemic proved to be a point of reflection as consumers demanded more eco-friendly commitments from brands as the climate crisis grows increasingly urgent. A surge of climate activism saw brands being called out for green-washing, encouraging companies to take action and set ambitious goals.

Pangaia's Denim Collection

Sustainable fashion label Pangaia introduced a denim range incorporating regenerative natural wild Himalayan nettle dubbed PANettle™. The bio-based innovation is mixed with organic cotton and treated with anti-odour PPRMINT™ oil to keep the denim fresh. The material is dyed using water and dye-saving processes and uses stainless-steel buttons that can be recycled at the end of the product’s life.

Shopping By Values

Berlin-based online fashion retailer Zalando launched a new shop-by-values service allowing customers to browse assortments in line with their top priorities. Some of these filters include water conservation, animal welfare credentials, worker wellbeing, reuse of materials and reduced emissions. Zalando is working to close the fashion gap between customer’s shopping initiatives and their ability to put them into practice.

Levi's Buy Better, Wear Longer

Levi’s Spring campaign highlighted the message 'buy better, wear longer' as it raised awareness about the environmental impacts of the fashion apparel industry. Emma Chamberlain and Jaden Smith are amongst other inspiring change-makers discussing the importance of buying second-hand and reducing carbon footprint. The campaign follows Levi’s ongoing sustainability efforts towards more eco-friendly production.


Brands continued to blur the line between physical and digital, creating seamless immersive virtual experiences with likeness to the real world. Digital fashion lines allowed brands to fully embrace experimental design without real world physical restrictions. Cross-overs into the gaming world saw immense collaborations with some of the worlds most popular games and top luxury fashion houses as both industries brought exciting new digital fashion lines to the home over lockdown periods.

Buffalo London x The Fabricant

Digital fashion continues to engross consumers as brands experiment with the potential of the virtual fashion world. Buffalo London and The Fabricant collaborated to offer consumers a virtual version of the Classic Low platform shoe, which can be worn on platform DressX. The shoes are lit on fire and are only available online or to be worn on social media posts.

H&M's Virtual Fitting Rooms

H&M announced the launch of virtual fitting rooms across selected German stores in collaboration with NeXR Technologies SE and its innovation lab H&Mbeyond. A body scanner allows customers to create a free avatar with their exact body measurements and try on items with a touch of a button. The tech analyses the relationship between consumers and technology and help to pave the way for a more sustainable industry.