InsightsPOSTED December 24, 2018

2018 Trends | The good, the bad and the in-between

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As we bid adieu to 2018, it’s important to look back on the past year and all the noteworthy trends that made it a year for the books. I use noteworthy because some trends had a larger impact than others on those (like me) who pay particularly close attention to fashion, culture and entertainment.

With Instagram at the forefront of dictating not only what’s fashionable, but what’s funny and who’s worth talking about, we found ourselves in a time warp continuously scrolling back in time. Millennial or not, we all re-experienced in 2018 what is was like to grow up and live through the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s through a total retro revival of culture and fashion.

Companies have always known exactly how to tap into our feelings, and with the nostalgia trend at an all-time high, we saw what was once old become new, from heritage logos like Champion, Levi’s® (client) and Club Monaco, fanny packs or belt bags, high-rise and wide-legged bottoms, oversized and tailored track suits and my personal favourite, neon everything, to breathing new life into the classics, like Full House and The Gilmore Girls, and Archie and gang and Sabrina the Teenage Witch comics coming back to life, thanks to Netflix.

The natural cycle of fashion sees trends go around and come back around, with some eventually biting the dust (and others hopefully staying back in 2019); chunky sneakers, clear plastic accessories, tiny sunglasses and any form of Crocs (Post Malone played an awful trick on everyone).

Then there are collabs between brands that seem to be a trend that’s hitting its stride – especially when the collab is a fit between brands’ value and goals, and is culturally relevant. That said, if you were a brand lucky enough to catch Virgil’s eye, you have become culturally relevant again or for the first time (evian seems like a stretch, but why not make sustainability design and innovation sexy?).

Ironically, the one brand that one could argue owns the realm of collabs is Supreme, and in 2018 we saw the brand continue to slap its logo on more obscure items, like a kayak and a pinball machine. Sure, they’re hot commodities for the reselling market, but as this changes nothing in my life, I would love to see the brand team up with more significant companies and causes and just do more prolific things behind the scenes in 2019.

As I continue to reflect on what seems like a never-ending year of #TBTs, I can’t help but ask myself, have we moved forward in any way in 2018?

The answer is yes, absolutely.

Perhaps the most inspirational trend we witnessed was in the realm of brand activism, where brands made stellar moves and stood up for what they believe in; Levi Strauss & Co. (client) took a stand against gun violence, Nike aligned its views with Colin Kaepernick’s protest against racial inequality and police brutality, Balenciaga partnered with the World Food Program, and Patagonia donated millions to environmental organizations.

Even the Royal family, with its May wedding topping 2018’s Google Trends list, made slow and steady strides to break through age-old traditions, especially by taking in a new, modern and fashionable Canadian member, Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle. Some would say Royal fatigue is upon us, but looking at the year ahead with Meghan and her new baby on the way, things are bound to stay interesting and exciting.

Generally speaking, I’m hopeful that in 2019 we’ll see more brands take a stand by not conforming to the traditional (go Unisex fashion!) and by pushing the limits of creativity.  

Laura Zechel is a consultant at APEX Public Relations.
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