Emily Tan
Jan 6, 2015

Bacteria-chic, teetotal millennials and hipster macha: 2015 trends

Selections from JWT's annual analysis of 100 key trends and cultural shifts to watch for in the year ahead.

Bacteria-chic, teetotal millennials and hipster macha: 2015 trends

We've gone through JWT Intelligence's Future 100 trends report and picked out the most eyebrow-raising trends in the list. Below, we summarise and at times paraphrase these trends, but the insights belong to JWT. Not included in our extract are everybody-knows-this insights on wearable tech, 3D printers and Xiaomi, for example. 

New feminism

Feminism, proposes JWT, is being rebooted with feminist rhetoric occupying the centre of popular discourse. Examples include Sarah Silverman's viral video about the gender pay gap, GoldieBlox championing girl coders and Emma Watson speaking at the UN imploring both genders to embrace feminism. 

Why it’s interesting: Feminism today is less politicised and more about community, empowerment and confidence than antagonism. It’s also multigenerational and powered by social media.

Mortal beings

While death is still taboo reference in much of the East, consumers elsewhere have started to focus on their mortality and embrace it. Artist Doug Wheeler's installation at Palazzo Grassi in Venice, New York's Metropilitan Museum of Art's exhibiton of mourning attire and popular design blog Dezeen's article on avant-garde funeral architecture are examples. 

Why it’s interesting: Consumers—mindful of extended lifespans, many living in an increasingly agnostic society—are starting to contemplate their mortality and the afterlife more seriously, linked, perhaps, to the cult of health.

Teetotal millennials

Millennials, reports JWT, are drinking less than older generations and embracing healthy lifestyles and fitness. UK's Channel 4 found that one in four young British people (aged 16-30) say they're abstaining from alcohol, compared with just one in seven older people (aged more than 60). While this fact certainly raised eyebrows among the British members of our editorial team, JWT backs the claim up with the launch of Redemption (a new alcohol-free bar in London) and yoga raves. 

Why it’s interesting: The face of youth is changing as millennials become more aware of their health and longevity, and fitness and health are being rebranded in hip, sociable ways.

Bacteria chic

Germs are now not only friendly, they're fashionable. Biocouture, a London company, experiments with living organisms such as yeast, fungi and algae to grow garments. And as part of the Central Saint Martins art school exhibit at the London Design Festival, Zuzana Gombosova showcased Invisible Resources, an exploration of the potential of lab-grown materials.

Why it’s interesting: Bacteria previously suffered from the “yuck factor” but are now attracting interest from creatives and innovators for its various properties, including the potential for growable products.

Real aspirations

In November, Beyoncé released a music video for her single "7/11" that looked 'homemade'. While elements of wardrobe and choreography were, of course, carefully orchestrated, Beyoncé appears makeup-free, in scenes played out in the bathroom, a messy bedroom and on a balcony, using a mounted camera. "As more entertainment becomes grassroots and more celebrities and influencers are initially seen on YouTube, Tumblr and Instagram, so too our visual language is changing to one where the candid and the real become the ideal," JWT states. 

Why it’s interesting: This is worth noting when considering millennials in particular. “The Tumblr-generation muse is no longer a flawlessly airbrushed A-lister flashing her pearly whites on the cover of the September Issue while dripping in borrowed diamonds,” Jane Helpern, editor at Smashbox Studios and Nasty Gal, wrote in i-D (as quoted in JWT's report). “Today’s of-the-moment model has dark circles under her eyes, she’s makeup-free, she’s gap-toothed, gangly, and uninterested in being edited into submission."

Celebrity business partners

Regulations in China may see this mode of celebrity endorsement come to the fore sooner than expected. Today's stars are expected to not just front brands but to work with them. Diageo has launched Haig Club, a single-grain Scotch whisky, in partnership with David Beckham and British entrepreneur Simon Fuller; they’re all working together to develop the brand, its strategy and positioning. Beckham appears in ad campaigns and also fronts the whisky’s responsible-drinking program. Beyoncé and Topshop have formed a 50-50 joint venture, athletic streetwear brand Parkwood Topshop Athletic, set for launch in 2015 (Beyoncé’s 19 million Instagram followers will no doubt help promote it).

Why it’s interesting: As more celebrities launch their own lifestyle brands (see Gwyneth Paltrow and Blake Lively, among others), they’re finding direct ways to monetise their influence. Collaborating with brands in a business partnership also means the double halo effect of joint social-media buzz and promotion.

Mipsters (Muslim hipsters)

There’s been a redefinition of femininity among young Muslim women. These 'hijabistas' are connected, entrepreneurial, fashion-conscious and increasingly visible in pop culture, from Adidas campaigns to Madonna videos. Yunalis Mat Zara’ai, better known as Yuna, a Muslim pop singer and songwriter from Malaysia, has appeared on The Tonight Show presenting this new iteration of Islam. The New York Times is inviting stylish Muslim girls to post pictures of themselves in hijabs to Instagram. Mexico-based design agency Anagrama has created hip branding for turban maker T4Turban, while photographer Hassan Hajjaj has launched a blog about hip Moroccan Islamic biker women.

Why it’s interesting: As new Islamic-centric markets, from the Middle East to Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, become more influential, marketers are taking notice of the digitally connected, stylish, entrepreneurial new stance among young Muslim women. 

Digital habits and stress (beauty)

Just when you think you've gotten wise to every scare-mongering tactic employed by beauty companies to shame women into buying their products, marketers invent a new one. It seems, reported JWT, that YSL Beauté has found that spending a lot of time checking your mobile or staring at a laptop or iPad screen is causing premature aging. It's invented the phrase 'tech neck' to describe the necklace-like creases caused by checking a smartphone 150 times a day, which is, apparently, the average. “A rising number of products are being introduced to firm the jawline and smooth the neck,” says Anna-Marie Solowij, beauty expert and founder of UK retailer BeautyMART. Avon’s Anew Clinical Infinite Lift Targeted Contouring Serum is one example.

Why it’s interesting: Research has shown that Millennials are more stressed than any other generation and are trying to manage the visible manifestations. They’re also making the connection between stress and visible aging. 

New wave boomer beauty

Despite the valiant machinations of the beauty industry, beauty is being redefined to include, not exclude, age. Last year, Estée Lauder bought Olio Lusso, the skincare line founded by 66-year-old model Linda Rodin, tapping the ultimate poster girl for the emerging “amortal” view of age. Fifty-plus, 60-plus and 70-plus consumers are rebelling against traditional age stereotypes, continuing to work and remaining active consumers. Rodin launched her brand when she was nearly 60, and its USP is that it naturally enhances you to be the best you can be. Expect more brands to tap a celebratory approach to age to reach this audience. Rising life expectancy and larger numbers of vibrant 60-plus and 70-plus consumers mean innovative brands will also start to evolve tailored skincare solutions for older skin.

Why it’s interesting: Fifty-plus consumers control as much as 50 per cent of premium beauty categories, yet for years they’ve been presented with marketing images of 20-something models. Clever brands will target them without patronising them.

Hipster matcha

What Starbucks has done to coffee, the MatchaBar hopes to do to Japanese green tea. Marketing it as an uber-health drink, the outlet, launched in Willamsburg Brooklyn late last year, is furnished with all the usual hipster accoutrements: industrial stools, polished concrete surfaces, plants, etc. 

Why it’s interesting: Health and health foods are being reimagined by creative brands for a savvy Millennial audience.

Banking the unbanked

After digitising all payments, the next frontier in banking is the global 'unbanked' and 'underbanked' population. In October, Bill Gates spoke about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s goal for those who lack effective banking: “to help people in the world’s poorest regions improve their lives and build sustainable futures by connecting them with digitally based financial tools and services.” 

Why it’s interesting: The worlds of philanthropy and commercialism are increasingly merging.

Helicopter parenting crashes

Thank heavens. Society is beginning to realise that parents have gone too far in martyring their lives to coddle their kids. “Somehow, as we’ve learned to treat children as people with desires and rights of their own, we’ve stopped treating ourselves and one another as such,” wrote Heather Havrilesky in her New York Times op-ed “Our ‘Mommy’ Problem.”

Why it’s interesting: New discourse around parenthood is increasingly parent-first, less reverent and idealising of children, and firmly anti-coddling.

BuzzFeed retail

In a new pairing of pop personality surveys and consumerism, the latest retail experience is to customise products for consumers based on a handful of seemingly abstract questions. Selfridges, Campaign Design and The Future Laboratory collaborated on Fragrance Lab, an in-store project that took customers through a series of stages—selecting objects, answering personality questions and visiting several sensory rooms—before their ideal fragrance was presented to them. Interestingly, customers paid a ticket price for the experience, and the scent was included, rather than the price being attached to the scent. 

Why it’s interesting: Perhaps this trend says something about customisation. Customers have been given access to millions of options and colour combinations, but while they may not know what to choose or may not even like what they’re creating, they still want the personalisation option. The techniques detailed above are a fresh way to reinstate brand authority while making the consumer the centre of the show. They’re also a great engagement platform.

Seasonless, gender-neutral, unbranded

Sustainability, gender equality, brand fatigue and global travel have started to erode longstanding boundaries and constructs in fashion. Brands are rethinking the traditional seasonal drops of winter and summer fashion. Tamara Mellon, Stefano Pilati (for Agnona) and Donna Karan have launched seasonless concepts recently, and affordable, seasonless luxury basics are appearing from Tomas Maier, the new Kit and Ace and Everlane, among others.

Why it’s interesting: Globalisation is blurring weather-related seasons, and there’s a sense of confident hyper-individualism among consumers, who are increasingly reluctant to follow either trends or seasons. They want to dress for themselves and expect brands to work outward from this.

Celebrating singles

Society has started to rebel against decades of pop-culture's fixation on finding 'true love'. Singles’ Day is shaping up as a global shopping phenomenon. It began as a novelty in China to mark the supposed loneliest day of the year (Nov. 11, as 11/11 stacks up to a pile of ones) and has become the largest online shopping day in the world after being appropriated by Alibaba, the largest e-retailer in China—even trumping Black Friday. In 2014 Alibaba made $1 billion in the first 17 minutes of Singles’ Day. Now the concept is expanding globally. Alibaba’s CEO believes Singles’ Day deals will reach consumers in 220 countries in the next year, and if global shifts are anything to go by, he’s probably right. Single living is certainly a global trend

Why it’s interesting: Globalisation means that from Black Friday to Singles’ Day, “shopping holidays” are quickly being introduced to new markets. Although the UK doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, shoppers there embraced Black Friday with enthusiasm in 2014.

Wellness tourism

Holidays from your diet don't seem optional anymore. Muesli-infused wellness tourism, it seems, is on the rise—the Global Wellness Tourism Congress says wellness travel is already a $439 billion market and predicts growth of 55 per cent by 2017.

Why it’s interesting: Wellness is being repackaged in a hip new way for both millennials and boomers, who are prioritising health and well-being as a key part of their lifestyle and leisure pursuits.

Travel connections

A new wave of travel services is connecting consumers to local people, social networks and influencers at their destination. Plus One in Berlin, now My Plus One, was a forerunner, offering guests the chance to connect with local experts to discover bars and stores and get the insider perspective. The Ace Hotel in Shoreditch, London, has started monthly cycle tours led by artists and influencers, to enhance the local flavour. Hallo Hello, a pop-up restaurant in Copenhagen Airport, offered diners the chance to meet other socially minded travellers over dinner, and Six Degrees, a social-networking platform launched by Marriott Hotels that includes mobile apps and an “interactive table,” similarly connects like-minded guests.

Why it’s interesting: More travellers are seeking both authenticity and social networking from their journeys.

Ethical smartphones

2013's launch of Fairphone, an ethically sourced and produced mobile phone, put a spotlight on the raw materials in our digital devices. The Dutch company, currently taking orders for a second batch of 35,000 phones, ensures that minerals come from conflict-free areas so they’re not helping to fund armed groups. And Intel is showcasing its commitment to using conflict-free minerals in its microprocessors, in a two-minute spot and on its website. 

Why it’s interesting: Expect more tech companies to start improving their track record on how their products are made.

Prosthetics, performance enhancers, exoskeletons and smart fabrics

“These will outsmart wearables,” said Sophie Hackford, director of Wired Consulting. While consumer-facing wearable technology has focused largely on bracelets that monitor health and fitness, a wave of innovation is occurring in fabrication itself. Ralph Lauren, one of the early major brands to explore this, introduced a Polo Tech smart shirt in 2014 that monitors heart rate and breathing and delivers the data to a smartphone in real time. Elsewhere, fabrics are being developed that can be grown, can correct the air around us, can promote well-being and can also control our movements. The BB.Suit 0.2, introduced at Beijing Design Week 2014, has an integrated air quality sensor and can purify surrounding air using cold plasma technology. Vasper, using technology designed for American astronauts, uses a compression system to make the body believe a 20-minute workout has lasted for three hours. Brendan Iribe, co-founder and CEO of Oculus, which produces the Oculus Rift virtual-reality platform, told crowds at Web Summit 2014 in Dublin that the company is experimenting with clever fabrication and suiting to enhance “the sensation you get with the sense of presence when visually you feel like you’re there—it’s an incredibly powerful component.” Watch for Oculus Rift playsuits.

Why it’s interesting: Mobile really is just the start. Increasingly, smart connectivity will be integrated into the fabric of our clothes, while the properties of fabric and wearables will go beyond monitoring us to enhancing and“super-humanising” us.


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