7 Trends in Sustainable Fashion 2022

Trends in Sustainable Fashion

Sustainability is finding its footing in the fashion world, a hot trend that’s quickly becoming a new way of living and shopping. A few designers, influencers, and brands (like Current Boutique) have been promoting eco-friendly and ethical clothing for years, but now the focus on sustainable fashion has come to the forefront of the industry as a norm rather than an outlier. A push for sustainability in the fashion industry means doing less damage to the environment, to our health, and to our closets.

Maybe something good came out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with learning how to make sourdough bread and how to dress from the waist-up for Zoom, the pandemic also seemed to change the way people view consumption, particularly fashion consumption. “The State of Fashion 2020” McKinsey report showed that more than 50% of shoppers have made significant efforts to reduce their environmental impact since the start of the pandemic, and the Lyst Insights 2020 Conscious Fashion Report found that there has been a 37% increase in overall searches for sustainability-related fashion keywords, like vegan leather, organic cotton, and upcycled fashion with a 45% increase for consignment-related words like secondhand and pre-owned.

How is sustainable fashion becoming more commonplace? Let’s look at the top 7 sustainable fashion trends for 2022 and what they mean for the future of the fashion industry. 

Curious why sustainable fashion matters so much? Check out our popular article: How Sustainable Fashion is Changing The World.

1. Thrift and consignment fashion

Consignment fashion has been the biggest move towards sustainability in recent years. Buying preloved pieces has become a status symbol among celebrities, influencers, and fashionistas. That’s because people are seeing the severe harm the fashion industry has on the environment, and buying clothes from consignment stores is the easiest, simplest, and most effective way to reduce fashion waste. 

The coolest part about shopping for secondhand clothes is that it’s not only great for the environment, but it’s also a treasure hunt for unique, vintage, stunning gems that stand apart from the fast-fashion looks that have become so mainstream and uncool in recent years. Consignment shoppers get access to high-quality, luxury designer goods at an affordable price, making labeled items more accessible to the everyday fashionista. This means customers get high-quality craftsmanship that’s flattering, high-status, and ideal for building a capsule wardrobe (see #2 on this list).

And consignment isn’t just popular for buying clothes. Consignment stores have become a popular way for fashionistas to sell their old clothes too. This reduces the amount of clothing going to landfills, closes the fashion circle of production and consumption, and also puts cash in your pocket. Curious about selling your old clothes? Check out the one and only guide you need for selling your used clothes online. 

Since consignment shopping has become such a large sustainability trend, we’ve been getting a lot of questions. Check out some of our resources about consignment clothes shopping and selling below: 

2. Capsule wardrobes

The pandemic had a two-pronged effect on our wardrobes:

  • A lot of people stopped buying new clothes. Financial concerns and burdens meant fewer clothes were being purchased, which, in turn, pushed a revolution towards buying fewer, higher quality
  • We got really, really sick of wearing the same clothes and outfits every day. We wanted to invest in quality, timeless pieces that we could easily mix and match to create infinite new looks.

Capsule closets came in to address these concerns. A “capsule wardrobe” is a carefully curated collection of clothes and accessories that you can easily mix and match. Each piece in the wardrobe is specifically picked for its quality, fit, and finish. Putting it on makes you feel beautiful and special every single day.

A capsule wardrobe is also full of timeless pieces that can be worn for years to come. You don’t have to worry about cycling trends or buying new clothes every season because your capsule wardrobe is always classy, always stylish, and always flattering.

The goal of a capsule closet isn’t just about minimalism. It’s about reducing overconsumption and focusing on positive, purposeful consumption. This has, in turn, had a positive effect on the fashion industry as a whole. To meet rising demand, designers (even fast fashion designers) are being forced to produce more classic, neutral pieces with a focus on higher-quality pieces.  

How can you curate a capsule wardrobe?

  • Create a personal uniform for yourself. What is your goal style? What does your dream closet contain?

  • Do a closet cleanout to donate or sell anything that doesn’t fit your capsule wardrobe.

  • Create a list of all of the key wardrobe essentials you want to get.

  • Focus on purchasing high-end, quality goods that fill in the gaps in your capsule wardrobe. It takes time to find the perfect pieces, so don’t rush it.

  • Purchase from consignment stores. This will reduce your impact on the environment while also giving you access to high-end designer goods at a much lower price. You can fill your closet with quality goods without breaking the bank!

3. Aesthetics > pieces

TikTok has moved the idea of “trends” away from individual pieces or styles, like peplum tops or high-rise jeans, and instead has created a push towards trending fashion aesthetics. We’ve seen cottagecore, dark academia, Y2K, soft girls, clean girls, and now coastal grandma in the past couple of years. Although these fashion aesthetics are technically still “trends,” the idea of an aesthetic is naturally longer lasting and more enduring than a single trendy piece. People adopt that aesthetic as their own, and it typically persists as part of their identity for several years.

For example, even though the cottagecore aesthetic popped up in the early days of the pandemic in 2020, it is still going strong deep into 2022. The group of cottagecore ladies has niched down now, but they are still actively wearing and purchasing these aesthetic clothes. They feel most beautiful in floral prints, puffy sleeves, and flowy dresses, making the trend less trendy and more capsule wardrobe worthy.

On the other hand, individual pieces that were trendy in 2020 like baguettes and oversized blazers have already given way to oversized totes and fitted blazers in the classic fashion trend cycle.

People love trends. Trends make us feel cool, they let us explore different sides of ourselves, and they allow for shared and individualistic artistic expression. But what I love about the trending aesthetic, rather than the trending item, is that an aesthetic is longer-lasting (which is more eco-friendly) and allows for more wiggle-room in expression, quality of clothes, and where and how you buy your pieces that fit the trending aesthetic.  

4. Clothing rentals

Renting clothes started years ago, especially when companies like Rent the Runway popularized the concept, but we’re seeing more and more brands offering rent or try-then-buy options. This allows women to try out unique outfits or special occasion dresses without investing their money (and their closet space) on wear-once pieces. Clothing rentals are also great for the environment because the process continuously recycles clothes, which helps close the fashion circle and minimize the materials, production, and labor needed for constant production and consumption. And, at the same time, renting clothes gives the flexibility to wear and try new pieces and styles! Learn more about the rise of fashion rental platforms here.

5. Recycled and upcycled clothes

Recycled fashion was already becoming a hot trend before 2022, but the pandemic propelled the popularity of recycling and upcycling clothes to the forefront. The goal of fashion recycling is to think of the industry as a closed loop of materials. Rather than constantly trying to source raw textiles, the push for fashion recycling instead focuses on diverting textiles away from landfills and reusing those materials that are or were already in circulation in the industry.

Fashion “recycling” is when textiles and materials are broken down and reused again within the industry. For example, a company like H&M will accept used clothes (either as a donation or in exchange for store credit), and then they use recycling technologies to separate and recycle cotton, polyester, and blends. They can then make “new” clothes and styles out of those reused materials. This creates a circular industry that uses and reuses the same resources time and time again, thus contributing to less virgin material waste.

Upcycling is similar, but it doesn’t require the same sort of energy-intensive processes that recycling does. Rather than breaking down clothing “for parts,” upcycling takes the clothing piece as it is and does a few additional tweaks and changes to make the piece more stylish, trendy, or usable. A common example that has been around for decades is utilizing a wedding dress of a close loved one, like a mother or aunt, and reworking it (changing the lace, adding beading, altering the neckline, or using certain parts to make a new dress) to create a fresh, modern dress from the previous one. This kind of upcycling has become incredibly common among fashion DIYers and thrifters who are looking to reduce personal and industry-wide consumption – while stimulating their creative juices!

Learn more about recycling fashion for a better, brighter future here.

6. Eco-friendly, biodegradable materials

We’ve been excited to see that more and more consumers care about purchasing eco-friendly, natural materials – and lots of companies are working hard to meet the demands of their customers. Many brands have started investing in the use of eco-friendly, biodegradable, and organic clothing materials. This reduces the volume of synthetic materials that end up in landfills (where they sit for centuries without the ability to break down), and it also reduces the use of chemical treatments and synthetic processes that release greenhouse gasses into the air and pollutants into our waterways.

We’re seeing a lot of different natural fabrics hitting the market, from organic cotton and linen to even more unique innovations like cactus, pineapple, mango, mushroom leather, and even rose petal silk. Check out 7 of the most popular eco-friendly materials you can buy (and 3 to avoid).

It’s exciting to see that times are changing and the biggest designers (and even some fast fashion stores) are moving more towards eco-friendly items. This hopefully means that soon eco-friendly materials will be the norm, not the exception. This will in turn make purchasing sustainable clothes cheaper and easier than ever before. We look forward to the day when environmentally-damaging fabrics are a distant memory. 

7. Local shopping

We all know that the pandemic hit small businesses the hardest, and even two years later, businesses are still trying to get back up on their feet. When you purchase from a small business, you are directly supporting someone’s dreams – while also taking steps toward a more sustainable fashion industry.

Purchasing local goods or buying from a small business is not only good for the community; it’s also good for the environment. Local businesses have a significant positive impact on the planet by sourcing local materials and selling to local people, which massively cuts down on national and international transportation (and the shipping industry’s associated environmental concerns with energy, oil, and labor). Small businesses also employ locals, keep the money in the community, and contribute to a healthy and thriving community. That is in direct opposition to buying from big box stores that often have a lot of environmental and ethical concerns.

Want to shop locally and support small business? Click to learn how to support small businesses. Your purchase from a local shop like Current Boutique can have a massive impact on your community and the environment!

How do you promote sustainable fashion?

If you liked this article, you’ll love our guide on How to Know if a Clothing Purchase is Sustainable.

Making sustainable purchases doesn’t have to be hard, and we’re excited to see that these sustainability “trends” are making consumers and fashion brands more aware of the impact of fashion on the environment. Like blue jeans or nude pumps, we look forward to the day these “trends” become so mainstream that sustainability becomes the fabric of our lives.

You can start shopping sustainably right now on Current Boutique. We focus on promoting organic and natural materials whenever possible and closing the fashion circle. Buying preloved goodies means fewer clothes ending up in landfills and access to stunning designer pieces at an affordable rate. Start shopping our just in pieces now to help promote sustainable fashion!


Carmen Lopez, President & CEO www.currentboutique.com

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Hello Fashion Lovers! I've been in the fashion industry for over 15 years. I started Current Boutique with the desire to recycle amazing pre-loved designer gems for others to enjoy! I value quality, unique craftsmanship, sustainability & saving money. I am a fashion lover who is energized by the challenges and rewards of being an entrepreneur. I'm here to share tips on fashion, style, bargain shopping and business. I hope you enjoy!
XOXO, Carmen