HONG KONG, Apr 22 – Consumers will increasingly demand textiles and tableware products that reflect nature and connections with communities, according to leading consumer, fashion and design trends forecasting company WGSN. The “WGSN TrendTalk: Houseware & Home Textiles 2018 Forecast” presented findings Thursday (20 April) during the HKTDC Hong Kong Houseware Fair, the largest fair of its kind in Asia.
The event at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre is organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and runs until April 23. Leading the seminar was WGSN Senior Editor Anupreet Bhui. From the company’s Hong Kong office, Ms Bhui focuses on consumer insights, marketing and product ideation. She has more than 14 years of experience working for clients such as Givenchy, 7 For All Mankind, Evisu and Rock & Republic.
Ms Bhui described four key themes likely to influence a consumer’s path to purchase in 2018. At the heart of the WGSN forecast was a notion that consumers carefully consider their purchases, and want a streamlined lifestyle that is closer to nature. Ms Bhui said buyers were prepared to pay a premium for high-quality products – particularly if they were well-made and incorporated cultural elements or a tradition.
“If you look at how the trends are perceived for 2018, you will see there that there is actually an extreme shift underway in how consumers are behaving and how lifestyles are changing,” Ms Bhui told the seminar. Consumers were polarised, she said, between a more minimalist approach to living that references elements of nature and kinship, or a more colourful approach that references elements of technology and urbanisation.
– Slow Futures
Ms Bhui described the first of the four leading trends for 2018 as “Slow Futures” – a calm, clean-looking, minimalist approach to life. The trend would be driven by a need to de-clutter complicated modern lives and to retreat in order to make sense of the information that flows around us. Consumers were increasingly looking to the past to determine the future, which has created a “less-is-more” approach to their purchases.
“As we move forward, we feel consumers are looking for design that is going to stay with them,” she said. Purchases tended to be well-made and more likely to impact on a consumer’s life over a longer period of time, Ms Bhui added, saying that natural features would often be attached to a product. For example, she described prints and patterns that reference geological formations, textures that mimic the appearance of scorched earth, or a pastel adapted from a swirl in a piece of stone.
A second trend that is forecast to emerge next year, “Kinship” is seen by WGSN as a celebration of globalisation and of a connected community. Ms Bhui said consumers attracted to this trend sought to mix and match traditions from different cultures and from periods in time to create their own aesthetic. Natural fibres and colours had become signatures of this emerging trend, Ms Bhui said.
Soft indigo colours, rope, sea grass, nautical themes and sandy tones were being used as inspirations and, in combination with design influences from the Middle East and South America, created texture, context and originality in fabrics. The idea of sharing cultures and the demand for unique products, she said, has spurred the development of crafted collaborations between multinational retailers, such as Muji and Ikea, and independent or emerging designers.
A “story about exploration” – about bright and exotic looks – summed up the third trend identified by WGSN. Ms Bhui called the trend “Psychotropical” and predicted it would give rise to products that are exceptionally bright, decorated in rainbows of colour, and blended with flora and fauna motifs. “People want to experience a holiday in a far off space without the travel, which is changing the way cocktails and food are served, for example,” Ms Bhui explained.
A trend to dark-green backgrounds, for example, would lend itself to vivid colour contrasts and the integration of more natural elements – think feathers and wings – in lifestyle products for spring and summer 2018, she said. The use of dramatic lighting, fantasy and mystery created an ethereal space that catered to the notion of escapism. Against these moody settings, designers had the opportunity to create contrasts with iridescent colour, high-gloss surfaces and psychedelic imagery.
– Youth Tonic
The final concept identified in the WGSN Trendtalk seminar dealt specifically with younger consumers. Ms Bhui told the audience this demographic wanted to inject an element of self-expression in the products they used. “For these consumers, it is less about telling people what to do with a product… but about giving them the open space where they can actually be a part of the design process themselves, and then they can modulate the product based on their particular needs,” she said.
Designers could also consider the world of animation, virtual reality and urban lifestyles when creating products for these consumers. Products might also reference the urban environment, the architecture of cities, straight lines, geometric patterns, vivid colour-blocking and functional materials that had a tactile quality.
The event was part of the 32nd HKTDC Hong Kong Houseware Fair, which takes place alongside the 8th HKTDC Hong Kong International Home Textiles and Furnishings Fair. The two fairs bring together more than 2,500 exhibitors from 28 countries and regions.