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trend report 2020

Design Talk: 2021 Trend Forecast

by , June 11, 2020

Our annual carry industry forecasts for 2021 are here, and this year we’re incredibly excited to be presenting the report in partnership with Carryology. For those who missed last year’s report, The Soft Serve Forecast shares our insights on the things, ideas and people that are changing the carry industry, followed by a look at the design trends that will be influencing the coming year’s releases.

For a quick cheat sheet, we’ve pulled together a selection of key topics.

Or click this link to find the free download of the full 40-page report.

2021 trend forecast


If the past year is any indication, sustainability efforts from brands will increasingly be aimed at the development of a circular supply chain. After partnering with fabric company Spinnova to develop a circular yarn made from natural fibers, Bergans launched their collection through a subscription model. Instead of buying a bag, customers buy a subscription to use a bag.

2020 will see the release of the first-ever pair of circular jeans, thanks to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Jeans Redesign project. The project worked with thirty major brands, manufacturers and fabric mills to develop a set of guidelines tackling issues such as waste, pollution, and the use of harmful practices.

In 2019 both adidas UK and John Lewis partnered with the social enterprise Stuffstr to introduce a buyback system into their e-commerce platform. Stuffstr allows customers to sell their unwanted garments back to the brand in exchange for store credit. Stuffstr estimates that the “re-commerce” market will double over the next five years.


A. Bergans X Spinnova, “Collection of Tomorrow”

B. The Jeans Redesign, by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation

C. Stuffstr X adidas UK


The travel industry has shared a more unfortunate relationship with the global pandemic than any other industry. First, it inadvertently aided the global spread, then it became one of the hardest hit economically. The U.S. Travel Association predicted an April loss of $910 billion in travel-related economic output in the US alone. Predictions on when international travel might resume range from ten months to two years. In the short term, international borders will remain closed long after social distancing measures are eased, meaning a surge in domestic holidays.

While it is expected that lockdown cabin fever will spur an explosion of travel, the COVID-19 pandemic has also created a growing interest in “safe” travel. Holiday planners are looking for destinations that are closer to home, remote or feel secure. Google trends saw a huge spike in searches for safe travel destinations at the start of 2020, a trend that is set to continue into 2021. It is foreseeable that this shift toward car-based travel options as well as camping and hiking will bring an increased demand for non-wheeled luggage, outdoor carry goods and that perfect weekend duffel.

Post-COVID Travel

A. Van Travel – photo by Johannes Hofmann

B. Cabin in the forest – photo by Edoardo Busti

C. Pack and blanket – photo by Oriol Pascual


As a new generation of talent moves into the workforce, the ‘office’ is shifting from being simply a place to work, into a vessel for collaboration. Business leaders are updating the workplace with new types of workspaces that allow employees to choose their surroundings based on task, schedule or convenience. 

New environments are now tailored to accomplish specific tasks, such as sound-proof phone booths, informal meeting rooms and quiet pods. And with no fixed workstation there is greater emphasis on portable organization solutions for office hardware and accessories that allow employees to best make use of these spaces.

“We’re moving towards activity-based workspaces which offer employees the freedom and flexibility to choose between different workspaces, each designed for a specific activity.” Lily Stanger, Design Lead at Mindspace.

As the workplace evolves, so do management tools. Sensors and tracking technology, such as Euclid, as used by WeWork, help analyse how workers utilize each space – so they can be adjusted for efficiency.


A. Office phonebooth

B. The Third Space 

C. Orbitkey Nest


Abrupt rectangular designs, often with perfect symmetrical silhouettes, are taking sharp minimalism to the extreme. The versatile shape works across categories, from work to outdoor.

Square backpacks

A. Herschel X WTAPS Backpack

B. côte&ciel, Sormonne

C. Beruf, Urban Explorer Backpack


In a similar vein to crossover backpacks, messenger briefcases bring an element of rugged utility to the office setting. The flapped main opening adds waterproofing, which if combined with a substantial shoulder strap makes for a bike-friendly commute option. A combination of premium materials and chunky buckles helps to accentuate the contrast between outdoors and office.

Messenger brief

A. Sandqvist, Solveig

B. Want Les Essentiels, Durham Messenger

C. KILLSPENCER, Esquire Briefcase


A groundswell of efficient luggage systems is being spurred on by converging work/life shifts, such as digital nomad culture and bleisure travel. This evolution of the “one-bag travel” notion is focused on improving the versatility of your luggage to adapt to different tasks and destinations. 

Modular luggage

A. ODA, Travel System

B. Gravel, Bag System

C. Boundary Supply, Arris


Custom hardware

Custom hardware has moved past simply adding a logo. The opportunity to create a collection defining hardware has never been easier. All materials and processes are welcome, with CNC and water-jet cut alloys leading the pack. Existing styles can be given a second life with new functionality as well as seasonal treatments on the hardware itself.

A. Louis Vuitton, AW20


C. Christian Dior


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