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« Top Retail Trends of Interest 2016 | Main | The Set List: The AI Retail Revolution »

The Set List: Fluidity 

Image © Sara Hill

Editor’s note: this blog is the seventh in a series discussing trends and insights into the world around us.

People’s attitudes towards labels of gender, sexuality, family, diversity, and career are becoming more open and undefined. We now know that ‘Gen Z is the most ethnically diverse generation in US history, eventually comprising of 47% ethnic minorities’, according to Jaclyn Suzuki, creative director of Ziba Design as well as the fact that 81% of them feel like they are negotiating multiple identities’ (Stylus, 2016).

Fluid identities are also expressed by Millennials in their ability to career juggle, more notably known as the ‘Slash Generation’, they embrace various overlapping careers, enabling them to cross promote each other and their peers. Being a Designer/ DJ/ Vegan Food Blogger is nothing short of normal. This ambitious generation do not want to be defined by one career, but prefer the fluidity of cruising between all their different interests, why just be limited to one?

So with these constantly morphing concepts of identity, the question now turns to brands, how will they keep up?

Reacting to the trend of fluidity in terms of gender, beauty brands are broadening their advertising and product lines to suit our new priorities. A more unisex approach is being pioneered by Sarah Hill’s ‘Make up for Humans’ product range, which appeals to the idea that make up is just paint and paint is for everyone. In terms of advertising, CoverGirl makeup recently announced its first male ambassador, 17 year old James Charles and Urban Decay launched gender fluid model Ruby Rose as its new representative, showing that they celebrate above all personal self-expression and individuality. Fashion brands such as Zara are also following track on this trend, earlier this year launching its ‘ungendered’ collection of 16 practical unisex pieces, modelled by both men and women.

Several clothing brands are also acknowledging our many layers of identities and instead responding by tapping into our emotional responses, categorizing products and providing recommendations by mood, rather than function. Online womenswear brand Finery created a browsing tool that allows customers to choose a series of images with varying colours, shapes and scenes that reflected their mood, eventually leading them to an item of clothing that illustrates choices. This serendipitous approach creates a more personalized experience, as well as allowing the consumer to discover something more about themselves.

Similarly, Lingerie brand Dessù has reimagined underwear classification, with its first collection presenting six very different pieces, each with a stylish aesthetic that represents different times throughout the day - 9:00am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm, 5:00pm, 10:00pm and 3:00am. Facilitating lingerie selection by mood and emotion, the brand responds innovatively to the desires of the modern consumer.

So, what’s next for fluidity?

In response to our own fluid taxonomies, brands have already started to reimagine their targeted product silos as well as create opportunities to tap into our emotional responses. As people’s attitudes become even more undefined, the need will grow greater for mainstream brands to position themselves on the side of inclusivity. Perhaps our chameleon-like tendencies and ever changing identities will drive brands to break down further barriers of segregation, create more meaningful products and simultaneously enhance our sense of discovery.

Kseniya is a lifestyle strategist in Gensler’s London office who collaborates with her clients and teams to design environments that facilitate enriching experiences. Fueled by a curiosity to understand human behaviour and cultural trends, she is intrigued by the intersection of design, research and consumer needs and the roles they place in creating meaningful spaces. Contact her at kseniya_sharin@gensler.com .