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Inside the fashion fair exploring creativity and sustainability

Milano Unica’s 30th anniversary event took place in Milan earlier this month

As the fashion industry squares its output and internal politics with the growing need to be environmentally conscious, professionals from across fashion, design, and lifestyle gathered at Milano Unica, the world’s leading textile and fashion accessories fair. Now in its 30th year, 2019’s main theme was sustainability, with Italian houses like Missoni joining a host of UK brands to interrogate and unpack the theme – with Burberry, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, and Vivienne Westwood among them. 

Alongside the sustainability symposium, Milano Unica was also a space to present some of the key expected trends for Spring Summer 2021 that channel sustainability for an increasingly ethically consciousness new gen of fashion consumers. Compiled in a new report entitled Gen Z _ Gen future: Tribe Culture 5.0, the research explored what a future led by a youth on-the-rise amid the next technological boom will look like.

Three major trends were forecast by researchers at Milano Unico with Gen Z in mind – a generation born in an extremely online world, connected to each other, cultures, and communities a world away, and empowered by tech. “Gen Z is the generation that is most aware of environmental issues, it is even the one that sparked green consciousness in the world,” says Ercole Botto Poala, the president of Milano Unica. “We now need to make the concept of green a dominant part of business and political decisions at all levels, so that we can act responsibly to ensure a truly sustainable future.” 

The ‘Tropical Rave in Mexico City’ trend unites rave culture with Central American-inspired prints, colours, and sensibilities, while ‘Indian Chill out in LA’ connects the smells and textures of Asia with a dreamy California aesthetic. The final prospective trend, ‘British Clubbing in Papua’, mixes hi-tech fabrics with the natural, and English club vibes with the craftsmanship of Indonesian communities. 

Milano Unica culminated in a series of talks and panels that unpacked fashion and lifestyle’s most urgent issues – sustainability, the power of the media, the ethics of language, and the freedom of expression. Dazed’s co-founder and iconic culture-capturing photographer Rankin was also in attendance, and addressed the topic of how to use fashion imagery to push conversations forward. “You’ve got to lead people,” he said. “You’ve got to be political and you’ve got to be bold with your choices. If you don’t, then what’s the point?”