With popular culture and media filling mainstream content with an intense commentary on global warming, human wastage, pollution and the need to tread lightly on our planet, there’s an emerging segment of the population that wants to live a sustainable lifestyle of self-awareness and minimalism.

Keeping in line with minimalist living, the concept of multi-identity both as a lifestyle and as a fashion trend is making the rounds. There is a quest to marry vintage with modern and a focus on individuality, experimentation in fashion and an increasingly strong urge to simultaneously identify with multiple subcultures and identities.

As a technology enabler and an AI provider for retail, I feel that there are some exciting new use cases for how artificial intelligence can be leveraged by players in these emerging segments to build a sustainable competitive advantage. But to know where the industry is going, it’s important to also understand its current state.

The Rise Of Sustainable, Accessible High Fashion

Given the experimental nature of this segment by way of lifestyle and behavior, there’s been a revival of the back-to-basics movement. Companies like Everlane are emphasizing sustainability and transparency with respect to their entire operations. The CEO of the company has been known to famously state, “We don’t want fashion; we want lasting styles.”

Cuyana, another sustainable fashion startup, has been built on the foundation of “Fewer, Better.” Its clothes are designed for “intentional living and elegant simplicity across all categories” with an emphasis on a lean closet, whereby shoppers can donate clothing through its nonprofit partner, H.E.A.R.T, to help others in need.

A Growing Secondhand Market

Approaching this phenomenon from an entirely different perspective is the used and secondhand clothing market, which is an $18 billion industry and is forecasted to grow about 11% per year. Young children grow out of clothes quickly and not everyone has the traditional hand-me-down networks. Some companies, including America’s largest secondhand fashion retail marketplace, a client of ours, are major players in the pre-loved clothing market and provide a way to swap well-maintained clothes while giving shoppers the opportunity to enjoy every brand they ever wanted to own.

Other emerging market segments include the big-box marketplaces and subscription-box startups looking to counter the overwhelming choices in present-day malls. Dia&Co, for example, is a subscription box company that caters to plus-size women (a segment that makes up 40% of…