I HAVE SEEN THE FUTURE
No goats’ entrails were used in these predictions, but next year will see us wearing aprons and building boats.
Gasp, darlings! Get a load of this! This time next year, you’ll be drinking nothing but oat milk, setting off smoke bombs at weddings and wearing ribbons on your clothes. Yes! I’ve been reading the 2019 trend forecasts and I’m telling you, I’m as silly as a kitten about what’s coming!
I can’t claim to be first with this news, because it’s old to everyone to whom this information truly matters. I guess you’d call them stakeholders, to coin a term that was itself fashionable once but has become stale and meaningless through overuse (see also, resilience).
By the time year-ahead forecasts make the news, they’ve already been presented to paint and homewares manufacturers, fashion and textile companies and whomever else might make a buck from knowing what you and I are going to buy before we buy it.
Clients of forecasting companies pay a fortune for such advance intelligence, in the way wealthy men of ancient Rome paid soothsayers to decode the future in the steaming entrails of goats. And here we find ourselves, two millennia later, delivered of similarly hot and steaming, utterly speculative, hysterical, hitherto-classified information.
It isn’t easy determining how trend forecasters establish what they know, because they tend to avoid the question. Ask, and they’ll probably lean back in their Eames soft-pad leather office chair and sigh: “It’s the zeitgeist, my flower; the zeitgeist.”
But it’s probably safe to assume it’s by combing social media, stalking broke-butfashionable young people on the streets of major cities, and acquiring big data.
No contest, my favourite forecaster is the Dutch legend Li Edelkoort and she’s back with another look-book of fashion predictions. Edelkoort isn’t big on big data, it seems, but is plugged directly into the circuit board of humanity. She buzzes with the electric knowledge of our shared dreams and desires and pronounces it, like poetry, from podiums in New York, Paris and for some reason, Johannesburg next February.
Women’s Wear Daily took feverish notes last month as Edelkoort stood on the mount and gazed into the middle distance. Apparently, she says folklore will be the big trend of 2019. By this she means embroidery, swirling skirts, “mourning dresses”, ribbonry, DIY fabric belts, and the poncho.
I don’t know about you, but this reminds me of that summer when boho chic was all you could buy on Lambton Quay. I’ve never seen so many policy analysts, tax lawyers and forensic accountants in tasselled sandals and coin-belts: it was a collective waste of our tertiary education. The only person who ever looks good in this clobber is Sienna Miller, and she hasn’t worn a sheepskin jerkin since she dumped Jude Law.
I’m not thrilled by Edelkoort’s other prediction, either. In what she declared “a world echo of labour clothes”, we’ll be paying tribute to the manual job by wearing aprons and blue workwear.
As a plumber’s daughter, I can’t tell you how irritating it is when someone who hasn’t done anything more manual than pulping kiwifruit in a NutriBullet styles around town in a designer boilersuit. I’m sure our Defence Force personnel feel similarly when they see some keyboard warrior strolling to the office in camo gear or epaulettes. In my view, you should earn the right to wear labouring clothes, perhaps by unblocking a toilet in them.
Edelkoort is all for manual labour, even if she isn’t exactly doing any. “The only way to survive is by using our hands,” she says, evoking handmade, ethical fashion as a way of fighting back against fast, cheap fashion, designed by algorithm.
Ironically, trend forecasters are turning to algorithms, too. Pinterest is on the bandwagon, releasing its top 100 trend report by aggregating user searches. “If an idea keeps getting more and more searches each month? And that upward trajectory holds steady for six-plus months?” the company explains with puppyish enthusiasm, “that’s how we know it’s a trend.”
Hard as it is to believe, next year’s wedding couples will offer guests doughnuts, and set off coloured smoke in photographs. We’ll all be drinking oat milk and going Pegan (part Paleo, part vegan, part sociopath). Midlife women will embrace their grey hair. Millennial women will go lilac. Babies will be soothed to sleep by automated rocking beds, and kids told stories at bedtime by audiobook. People will build boats. Yes, actual boats. 2019 sounds like a Kevin Costner movie in which Kevin Costner doesn’t make it.
I don’t want Kevin Costner to die. I don’t want to eat beetroot, dessert hummus, or paint my lounge in “neo-mint”. But, as stakeholders in the same future, we’re subject to its immutable laws. We’re going to be plantbased, homespun and going grey, just as we were in the Great Depression. How things change, my flower! How things stay the same!
INSPIRE. PROVOKE. ENTERTAIN.
Photo: Victoria Birkinshaw