The 2010s came in with a meat dress, courtesy of Lady Gaga, and went out with an impeachment, courtesy of the House of Representatives.
In between, it seemed the culture exploded with minor earthquakes every day: the heyday of the Kardashians, the birth of Instagram, Hamilton, pussy hats and the phenomenon of binge-watching. Influencers took over as the life experts, searing our social feeds and shaping what we wear and eat and how we live.
The decade also marked significant movements that moved us forward. #MeToo took center stage and we further examined our relationship with mental health, the planet and big tech.
Also critically, our cultural catalog expanded. From a makeover at MOMA that retells the story of contemporary art with more diverse artists to the embracing of female music as the dominant force of the decade. Thank you Adele. Thank you Beyonce. Thank you Lizzo.
But the decade closed with an international crisis at the border, countless acts of domestic terrorism and, according to Pew Research Center, with only 17% of the American population trusting our government.
As we ride into 2020 there does not seem to be one dominant narrative set to shape the next decade. Pantone would like us to believe the tone for the next year will be set by their pick; a shade of classic blue symbolizing calmness, reassurance and tranquility.
But this warm and fuzzy idea does not reflect the world before us. So perhaps there is an alternate interpretation. Blue also symbolizes deep emotions, even moodiness. Think Picasso’s blue period.
While we aren’t necessarily sinking into a depressed state, emotions are certainly bouncing around as we cope with the issues the 2010s left on our doorstep.
Maximalism: The exposed brick, white walls, Edison bulbs and minimalist Instagram aesthetic of the late 2010s will feel dated as heavier designs, ornate details, richer color and an overall feeling of opulence moves us into the new year.
The maximalist sensibility popping up in high fashion, art and culture will bleed into mass packaging, fashion, beauty and the home. You can blame a backlash to the Kondo craze that had us all living sparingly combined with a forecasted economic downturn. But this year, consumers will be drawn to the bountiful and decadent as the reality of true luxury and wealth become less attainable.
Dopamine fasting: Alcohol consumption has been dropping as younger consumers opt for a more sober-curious lifestyle. In 2020, expect consumers to move past simple sobriety and embrace dopamine fasting.
This trend is based on the idea that we are over-stimulated by technology, social media, food, alcohol and caffeine and that over time it takes more and more stimulus to satisfy us.
By “fasting” and temporarily cutting out these dopamine triggers, followers seek recalibration and a renewed ability to absorb life’s simple pleasures.
MOOP replaces Goop: With a new generation of environmentalists at the helm, led by Gen Z crusaders like Greta Thunberg, eco-conscious is being replaced by eco-adamance.
Say goodbye to the days of choosing vegan leather, subscribing to Gwenyth Paltrow’s Goop or opting for reusable shopping bags to express your allegiance to the planet. Moving forward fringier movements like MOOP (matter out of place) will dominate, where citizens self-police garbage and waste at concerts, festivals and communities.
Those not doing their part are being shamed. Just look at Chris Pratt’s twitter take down for carrying a water bottle to the gym. In 2019 forward-looking brands Stella McCartney, Burberry and H&M signed the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment along with the UN’s environmental program pledging to create a circular economy of plastic so it never becomes waste. In 2020 and beyond more consumers and brands will go to great lengths to make a statement that saving the planet is not fashionable, it’s a 911 emergency.
Women’s sexuality: 2019 welcomed a sisterhood of content portraying female sexuality as powerful, complicated and extraordinary. Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women, Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls, HBO’s Mrs. Fletcher and even pop culture hit, Hustlers starring Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez — all portrayed women’s sexuality with daring truths, plots and characters.
In a post #MeToo era, expect to see more storytelling with women reclaiming their sexual narratives with boldness and vigor. Brands will play into these sensibilities with riskier agendas capitalizing on this emerging sexual renaissance.
Forced friction: Technology has delivered on the promise of a frictionless world. We can date, order groceries, complete a college degree and even get therapy without ever leaving our homes.
But all this convenience created a larger inconvenience , social isolation, that is having disastrous effects on our health. According to the Harvard medical school, loneliness increases the risk of heart attacks by 29% and strokes by 32%.
But there are glimmers of change. The UK appointed Tracey Crouch as its minister of loneliness to address the epidemic of social isolation. In Asia, gardens are becoming dating centers to bring together older singles. And a fresh crop of dating options, like Lex, a queer dating app with no profile photos, is forcing users to get to know each other IRL.
In 2020 we will see brands, governments and communities combat tech-induced loneliness by re-inserting friction into our lives, forcing humans to get together again.
Gen Z: We’ve reached peak millennial. We’ve had our own color (millennial pink), complained about student debt and Air BnB’d across the world. We’ve even had our babies on Instagram. In 2020 the cultural spotlight shifts to Gen Z.
In the past year this insightful generation redefined the once cool-kid Gen Xers as “Karens” — misguided parents that struggle for relevance but are too bogged down by their own biases to achieve it.
They also brought us TikTok, Billie Eilish, Hunter Schafer and a more open sense of gender and identity. Expect to see their tastes and moods dominate pop culture, content and social platforms into the new decade, increasing our appetite for change and progress. And no one should be blue about that.