Much has changed since Glossy launched in 2016 to cover the intersection of fashion, luxury and technology. Case in point: Among the most popular stories we published in the first year were a news story on Instagram launching product tags in beta; a trend piece noting the onset of streetwear Instagram; and a “Raf Simons guide to transforming a brand,” following his first six months at Calvin Klein. 

With the pandemic accelerating even rapidly evolving trends, fashion and beauty in 2026 are set to provide an even sharper contrast, when compared to the industries today. In honor of our five-year anniversary, we asked eight leaders in the space and friends of Glossy to weigh in on what’s to come.  

“Something that went really mainstream in the last 12 months are NFTs and crypto. I believe that we are on our way to a fully virtual, augmented reality future. We’ll see a world where you don’t even have to own the physical shoes; you can just own a virtual version of them and post on social media with those augmented reality shoes on your feet and get the same social credibility. We already have kids who come into the store, do a 12-outfit photoshoot in the dressing room and leave without buying anything. And they post and get all the social credibility of their style without owning any of it. And augmented reality is going to enhance that. I’m working on an NFT project now with some younger people and, I’m such an old guy, I asked them, ‘When are we getting the sample?’ They were like, ‘Jeff, there is no sample. Nobody cares about physical objects anymore, dude.’” –Jeff Staple, founder of Staple Design and Reed Art Department

“Amid the rapid evolution of the beauty industry, the experience and discovery of beauty remains deeply personal. Over the next five years, the discovery of beauty — routines, products, shopping — will be people-powered, and fueled by brands and experiences that can authentically capture and share individualized and personal beauty stories.” –Ali Weiss, svp of marketing at Glossier

“I believe ‘clean beauty’ will move toward defining itself in a way that is less polarizing, based in cosmetic science and led by responsible marketing. The way to appropriately define and describe this genre of products requires a new look at the science and regulation behind them. I hope brands and content creators sell and market products by highlighting quality formulation, conscious ingredient sourcing and a brand’s commitment to sustainability, integrity and ethos, instead of based on people’s fears. Hopefully, there will be a deeper trust in cosmetic science and an understanding of the basic principle of toxicology that it’s the dose that makes the poison. I hope people will come around to understanding and trusting science more and become more accepting of how other people seek to feel great in their beauty and how they find confidence — from facial massage and plant oils to plastic surgery and synthetic actives. It’s all beauty, and to each their own.” –Josh Rosebrook, founder of Josh Rosebrook

As marketers ponder what the world will be like in five years, the question to ask yourself is not one of Tik-Tok vs. Instagram or of micro- vs macro-influencers, but instead: ‘How do I tell my brand story in a world where traditional media has been dismantled and decentralized?’ Power is flowing from the hands of few to those of many, and that shift will force brands to fundamentally rethink every part of their strategy, and center their marketing in honesty and authenticity. Centralized media made it easy for brands to control their narrative, but in the next five years, brands will win not by how they tell their story, but how their customers tell it.” –James Nord, founder of Fohr

“The future is distributed. Within five years we will see a vastly more decentralized system of distribution and a more demand-responsive system of production breaking the linear rigidities that force so much risk-taking, inefficiency and waste today. The most successful companies on the brand side will marry a strong and meaningful brand foundation with exceptional data capabilities and a just-in-time manufacturing structure that will allow for the right product to be produced and delivered to the right customer with exceptional efficiency. Brands will have transitioned to owning their own resale, and second-hand will make up 30% of all purchases. For leading brands, every product will carry a unique digital identity that will allow the brand to stay in touch with the customer via the product, irrespective of point of sale. Norm changes will have progressed to the point that sustainability will be deeply embedded in nearly every business and reported on with common metrics and transparency across a wide swath of best-in-class businesses. Dignified work and living wages for global garment workers and a phased elimination of leather in fashion’s supply chains will be the core movements among activists.”Vanessa Barboni Hallik, founder and CEO at Another Tomorrow 

“We’re at the beginning of the age of enlightenment, with regard to sustainability. It really is at the forefront of every conversation in fashion right now. It’s so exciting to see the pace of developments; it’s offering real hope for a greener future. The short-term goal of the next few years is proof of concept. Find the ideas that have the greatest impacts and, most importantly, are scalable, and then double down: Open up the technology, drive awareness and adoption, and get to where we essentially democratize sustainability. The next half-decade or so will see major strides in sustainability initiatives, getting to a place of cost-neutral or possibly even cost-savings, and that’s when industries really change.” –Sam Ku, president and creative director at AG Jeans

“We see the next five years of retail as a repositioning of the virtual and physical worlds seamlessly supporting each other. The customer has gotten comfortable with online shopping, and the expectations for personalization and service will be at a very high level. Systems and supply chains should be revamped to meet the customer’s access to easy browsing and transaction, as brands will need to keep pace to compete in what will be a crowded online environment. Retail as we know it should see a shift to create excitement, exclusivity, discovery and distinctive experiences, as most customers will need to feel entertained and have a reason to walk in and shop.” –Billy Reid, designer at Billy Reid

“Beauty is inherently very personal and tied to identity. In this context, product personalization allows individuals to celebrate their own unique beauty rather than encouraging them to conform to a set of ideals. [This year] will continue to bring new concepts, formats and innovations within customization, and we anticipate those new innovations will be more broadly available in mass channels, too… [In the next five years, we will see] the beauty industry lead efforts to ensure women no longer fear aging; it will help women navigate aging in a way that is empowering and enables them to feel equipped vs. fearful. [And] increasingly, the divide between company and brand is disappearing. Who we are and how we operate internally, and how transparently we share that across channels will be core to how brands are perceived in the world.” –Zahir Dossa, co-founder and CEO of Function of Beauty.