In a matter of days, we’ll say farewell to 2016, a year when clothing stores were suddenly teeming with off-the-shoulder tops; when restaurant menus filled with dishes featuring ghost pepper and other sriracha successors; and when gaming geeks went mad for the old-school-style Nintendo NES consoles that reminded them of their childhoods.
So what will be the big consumer crazes of 2017? Here, we’ve collected some predictions.
Food: Look for this to be the year that breakfast goes global. Technomic, a foodservice industry research firm, forecasts that restaurants will reach beyond breakfast burritos and start incorporating more Asian, African and Middle Eastern ingredients and spices into morning menus. The group says diners can expect to see more dishes like shakshuka, which, in a version offered at a small chain called Snap Kitchen, features eggs, chickpeas, kale, feta and spiced tomato sauce. Also, in an era when fat is not thought to be the dieting enemy it once was, Technomic expects restaurateurs will go big this year not only with butter, but with fats such as lard and tallow.
Meanwhile, the National Restaurant Association predicts that unconventional cuts of meat, such as oyster steaks or Merlot cut steaks, will be a key menu trend in 2017. The trade group also expects poke, a Hawaiian raw fish dish, to take center stage.
Fashion: Brace yourselves for an 80’s resurgence, but don’t start having nightmares about outfits that look straight out of “Designing Women.” Sidney Morgan-Petro, retail editor at trend forecasting firm WGSN, says we’re not going to see the aesthetic re-emerge quite so literally.
“It’s less about the actual look of the ’80s, and more about some of the ideas,” Morgan-Petro says.
So, for example, we can expect to see a lot of voluminous clothing with bigger proportions. Instead of skinny jeans, think slouchy trousers. Instead of ultra-tailored outerwear, think cocoon-like, floor-grazing overcoats. But perhaps the most prominent example of the volume trend will be a cavalcade of tops and dresses with billowing, dramatic sleeves. Bell sleeves, flute sleeves, ruffled sleeves, bishop sleeves — these silhouettes are already catching fashionistas’ eyes and are likely to explode in popularity in 2017.
“I think designers have seen that that kind of frivolous trim, that decadence in silhouette, is really resonating,” said Katie Smith, senior analyst at fashion forecasting firm Edited.
Morgan-Petro also anticipates that we’ll see the “athleisure” trend shift toward a look she calls “athluxury.”
“We’re going to see these elements that we love from athletic and activewear, but looking more refined and more sartorial,” Morgan-Petro said.
In other words, instead of simply wearing our gym leggings to do errands, we might invest in pieces that are made of similarly comfortable, technical fabric, but were intentionally designed to look more like a true trouser.
Beauty: The business of getting gorgeous roughly breaks down into four areas: makeup, skincare, hair care and fragrance. And Karen Grant, beauty industry analyst at NPD Group, a market research firm, said makeup is where she expects we’ll see “seismic momentum” in 2017. Eyebrow grooming products such as tinting gel and sculpting pencils should be especially popular, Grant said, continuing a recent hot streak. NPD found sales of these products soared 37 percent in the most recent quarter, as fuller, Lily Collins-esque brows remain in vogue.
Grant also expects a strong 2017 for lipsticks as well as contouring makeup, a product you apply to your face to strategically highlight your bone structure.
Why does Grant forecast that makeup will sell so strongly? She said a burst of new brands and new products helps.
Make-up sellers, Grant said, are “being rewarded by all the innovation coming into that category.”
Gadgets: The year ahead looks poised to be a breakout one for voice-activated digital assistants such as Google Home and Amazon’s Echo. Shawn DuBravac, chief economist at the Consumer Technology Association, said the early adopters who purchased these devices this year could be crucial catalysts for the technology to burst into the mainstream in 2017.
“As the ownership rates move up, the exposure increases,” DuBravac said.
In other words, more of us are going to encounter these devices in real life — say, when we go to a friend’s house and watch him use Echo to cue up the party tunes, or visit a sister who tells Google Home to add milk to her grocery shopping list. Once more consumers start to experience these use cases, they may be compelled to buy one of their own.
Also, it’s worth noting that adoption of these gadgets is poised to increase in part because the technology that powers them has gotten vastly better. DuBravac said that back in the 90s, the “word error rate” for voice-activated assistants was near 100 percent, meaning they almost never understood the user correctly. Fast forward to 2013, and that rate had come down to about 25 percent. Now, though, in the last three years, he said it has fallen to about 5 percent.
“We’ve had more progress in that technology in the last 30 months than in the previous 30 years,” DuBravac said.
(Jeffrey P. Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon, owns The Washington Post.)
Toys: Next year should be an extraordinarily busy one for toys with tie-ins to the silver screen. Jim Silver, chief executive at toy review website TTPM, says that in a typical year, we might see eight feature films that are attached to major merchandise licensing programs. This year, Silver said there are some 20 films that fit that bill. An installment in the “Transformers” series is scheduled to hit theaters this summer. And Spider-Man, one of the best-selling of all Marvel’s characters in toyland, should be in-demand after the box-office debut of “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” Also, Disney is set to release in March a live-action version of its 1991 animated classic “Beauty and the Beast,” which stars Emma Watson of “Harry Potter” fame and will likely deliver a jolt of interest in that property.
“Disney, probably among all the studios, is really good at building franchises and leveraging those” into a merchandising strategy, said Marty Brochstein, senior vice president at the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association.
It’s worth noting, Silver says, that the toy industry could benefit from the way these movie releases are positioned on the calendar. Instead of just a crush of toy-friendly movies at Christmastime, there’s going to be a steady trickle of flicks all year long that could have kids dragging their parents to the toy store.
Looking beyond toys with a Hollywood connection, keep an eye on the re-launch of Teddy Ruxpin. Laurie Schacht, co-publisher at review site The Toy Insider, said she expects the new, souped-up version of the 80’s-era talking bear to be a big hit. Its manufacturer, Wicked Cool Toys, is betting that it will strike a serious note of nostalgia for parents who played with the original back in the day.