The LGBT market
It’s been quite a year for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) world; 2015 has seen the legalisation of same-sex marriages across the whole of the US, bringing into line the 14 states that previously did not allow it, and the inclusion of the gender-neutral honorific Mx in the Oxford English Dictionary, to represent those who do not wish to define their gender by using Mr, Mrs, Ms or Miss. These major and timely shifts in social attitudes are opening up significant business opportunities, in sectors including jewellery and clothing.
Take the wedding market. While numbers of traditional heterosexual marriages are declining in the western world, same-sex ceremonies are booming. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act allowed same-sex weddings in the UK from 29 March 2014, with the first ceremonies taking place in the very first minutes of that day. In the UK, 15,098 same-sex couples legally married during the period up to 30 June 2015; 7,732 were conversions from civil partnerships, and of the 7,366 new marriages, 55% of ceremonies were women, and 45% between men. The worth of the same-sex wedding market is estimated at $1.04 billion in the US and $192 million in the UK.
Some companies have been quick to see the opportunities. According to data gathered in the last US Census (2010), unmarried same-sex couples in the US had an average household income of $103,980; by contrast, unmarried heterosexual couples had an average household income of $62,857. Selfridges in the UK, for example, ran Agender, a highly successful and headline-grabbing campaign featuring three floors of clothing, footwear and accessories “no longer imbued with directive gender issues” and has profited from a 25% increase in sales of wedding bands to same-sex couples in its Wonder Room. Tiffany & Co has become one of many brands that now feature same-sex partners in advertising.
On the other hand, many brands’ product offering and marketing still remains incompatible with this burgeoning market. The wedding business itself has been particularly singled out as disappointingly backwards in its approach. Same-sex couples, many of them double-income-no-kids consumers with money to splash out, complain of poor customer service, the use of outdated terminology such as “bridal” car and “bridal” suite, and lack of advice on everything from the ceremony itself to what to wear.
“It is still waking up. There is a long way to go,” said Gino Meriano, founder of Gay Wedding Show, which organised six gay wedding fairs across the UK last year. “If two women go into a bridal shop, do not assume one is the bride and one is the chief bridesmaid.”
According to a survey by marketing and research company Out Now Consulting, a total of 868,000 gay men and lesbians in the UK are expected to marry over the next 15 years. Allowing for an average of around £20,000 per ceremony, that’s a multi-billion pound market to chase. 
Publisher’s view
The textile industry’s most recent round of trade shows gave us lots to talk about: timing of shows; how to present trend information in a rapidly changing market; and sustainability, seen by both Milano Unica and Première Vision as a crucial part of the European textile offer.
Fibres and fabrics
In Europe, fabric fairs Milano Unica and Première Vision Fabrics were both busy, maintaining high numbers of visitors – even London’s little Textile Forum was buzzing with visitors doing business. The six integrated shows under the Première Vision Paris banner, attracted around 61,700 overall with EU visitors now accounting for 74%.
Capital updates
It’s all about change. The financial crisis and the Internet continue to change the nature of the retail business, how people shop and how they spend. Americans like other westerners are spending more money on doing things, not buying things. Consumers are eating out more, upgrading their cars, fixing up their homes, as well as spending on sports gear, health, and vacations.
Womenswear ready-to-wear designers
A sea change is in the air! As fashion drifts away from the flower-power of the boho 70s, we are starting to see a new mood come into play with designers embracing femininity in all it’s guises from the frills and ruffles of the powerful Latina to the more androgynous feminine styling of the 90s, via Edwardian matriarchs and Santa Fe prairie girls. S/S 2016 is all about ‘girl power’.
Womenswear designer fabrics and colours
Designers are hitting new heights through the use of increasingly clever alliances of fabric innovation and garment conception; this marriage of surprising ideas and exquisite production really raises the bar.
Womenswear designer silhouettes and styling details
The defined modernism from winter continues into summer in a slightly less controlled form. Clean, straight-cut or slightly shaped pieces appear to be turned inside out or are allowed to unravel and fray, deliberately undoing any smart precision. Stark perfection is disrupted with a touch of irreverence.
Menswear designer messages
Menswear is defying traditional conventions, breaking old rules and opening its doors to a world which flouts any gender codes, throws out orthodox outfit building or categorisation and stretches the boundaries of traditional cut and dimensions. We watch the runways and are forced to redefine our frameworks.
Womenswear fabric best-sellers and new design directions
The season puts the emphasis on feel and texture rather than colour. The new call is for softness whether achieved in wool with tumbling, blowing, puffing and brushing or via suede and carbon finishes in cotton and a whole new feeling for velvet, velour, flocking and panné.
WW Fabric BESTS AW 16:17
Menswear fabric orientations XXX
Womenswear fabric & colour forecast
It’s time to play, to combine contrasting fabrics and garment styles in a way that we wish to wear them. We are no longer being dictated to by fashion designers and brands as to how to wear our clothes, so we can create personal fashion statements by mixing styles and fabrics in our own individual way.
Menswear fabric & colour forecast
Sportswear’s foray into the realm of tailoring continues, with the hybridization of these far removed aesthetics feeling the most seamlessly realized to date.
It appears that, at least for now, the on-going dialogue between the natural and the synthetic has been put on hold.
Accessories & trimmings forecast and inspirations
Bohemian gypsies and influences from the seventies, luxury hidden by a precious raw nature, Saturday Night Fever and disco brightness, coquettish and creative bric à brac, Summer 2017 is made up of revival, remakes and a unique creative energy.
Womenswear knitwear colours, yarns and styling
This season the emphasis is focused on both the unification of materials and on new transformations achieved through invention and exploration. As advancements progress in the manufacture of yarns and blending of fibres, fresh ideas are being presented.
Menswear knitwear styling concepts
Lots of texture created with interest in yarns and stitch structure.
Colours are muted and merged – pushing the boundaries of menswear with an almost feminised approach to colour
Womenswear knitwear forecast
The new season’s language of fabric innovation lets you construct new shapes out of two distinct and opposite characteristics. For men, unusually, we saw a new pliant, soft movement and drape. Fabrics seemed under set. Blends were softly technical or luxurious and refined. The polar opposite saw a hard, resistant touch, reminiscent of a perverse modern vintage taste for a harsher hand and a compact rigidity.
Context is everything – ‘context’ as in giving meaning, delivering a rationale, acting as a relevance filter and as a delineator; but also context as in seeking common ground, a shared interest, with, of course, the accompanying perspective.