17 May Why We Love Millennials + How They Are Shaping Design and Style in 2016
Millennials are the most maligned generation in recent memory. Be honest. Raise your hand if you are guilty of calling them “lazy” “spoiled” “narcissistic” and “entitled.”
The truth is, we have all met plenty of this generation who are exceptionally talented, insanely innovative and transforming business-as-usual in just about every industry.
In the world of style and design it’s precisely this group of 20 and 30-somethings who are upending industries that for the last century or so, have been operating in the same way.
Their thirst for a newer, better, more efficient and more conscious lifestyle has shifted fashion, interior design, travel, office culture and even transportation. They have ushered in the rise of “disruptive” companies like Uber, AirBnB, egalitarian design-for-all businesses like Havenly and Laurel & Wolf, and socially conscious fashion labels like The Reformation and The Arrivals.
Meet Our Newest Millennial
In the office, we recently hired our first 20-something, Kate Dreher, who has transformed my vision of what the Millennial generation offers. After just a few hours with her, I realized that as a card-carrying member of Gen X, there are a lot of things I can learn from these gorgeous creatures who were tossed out into the scary world of the Great Recession, and who have clawed their way out of it to the top of the pile.
Last week we got into a long discussion about what Kate and her co-conspirators are bringing to the table, and here are some of the things worth a mention.
Why We Love Millennials
This generation is perfectly liberal about their views on gender, sexual preference, race, lifestyle, politics and style. Examples include:
- Gender Fluidity: 5 years ago who could have predicted the exciting transition we are in right now as traditional notions of gender are replaced by a touching humanity where everyone is accepted no matter what shape, color, or gender. The impact of this has been felt far and wide, with companies like Pantone addressing it with their two 2016 Colors of the Year. Fashion as well is addressing it off and on the runways with designers like Opening Ceremony, Rick Owens, Vince, Rag & Bone and even Zara leading the way.
- Fashionably Funky: Leandra Medine of Man Repeller, who ushered in a funky, irreverent, not-your-mother’s-style unlike any other fashion blogger on the planet. This has been a major shift from the Normcore of years past and has certainly created a trend towards more individual style choices. Think about the mad-cap style emerging from Gucci and Vetements. Liberal style is most certainly here to stay.
- Bernie. No matter what your politics are, you can’t ignore the fact that this man has made some major waves.
There is no doubt that this crew of 20-to-30-something humans is creative. Every millennial I know has some kind of creative outlet, whether it’s making homemade jam, painting in their spare time, creating gorgeous hand-stitched leather bags, or coding the next great app. This drive for a more creative lifestyle is driving trends in DIY, has contributed to the rise of Etsy and spills over into our everyday style.
Whether is maximalism or Scandinavian minimalism, interior design has become a major creative outlet for a lot of Millennials. You only need to look at the proliferation of blogs like Apartment Therapy, Remodelista, Design Sponge or Design Love Fest to know that creativity is alive and well in their approach.
Nothing is left to the imagination with this generation and sometimes that’s ok. The openness to be yourself and share it has never been stronger. My generation balks at their readiness to discuss everything with the world. We fault Reality TV, social media, texting, etc., but let’s be honest, are we overreacting a bit?
In the spirit of sharing millennials have transformed us into a much more liberal society. This “as much information as possible” approach is actually breaking down barriers and bringing a lot of things that have been in the closet to the forefront. Refer back to the first section on liberalism and gender acceptance. I don’t know if it would have been possible without this generation’s desire to speak their mind about everything all at once.
Sharing has also resulted in a much more egalitarian approach to design. Style is no longer relegated to those who can afford expensive clothing and home decor. Even famed lighting designer Lindsey Adelman, has a DIY section where you can straight up swipe the plans for one of her well-known fixtures…for FREE. How’s that for sharing?
No matter your feelings about Miley Cyrus, it’s time for Gen X’ers to step back and realize that the over sharing economy isn’t going away anytime soon. So let’s stop complaining about it and embrace it shall we?
This generation is not afraid to try things and fail. Some people may see this generation as non committal but they like to think of it as adventurous.
This kind of no-fear approach is one of the hallmarks of this blue-hair-don’t-care population, who are applying it to everything in their path. They are launching million dollar businesses before they even graduate from college. They are out there, doing it, crushing it, and using their sense of entitlement as an excellent excuse to do whatever it takes to have fun, be successful and stay in control of their world.
In some ways, I think our Gen X/Baby Boomer angst about millennials is a tiny twinge of jealousy for their no-fear approach to life. It might be hard to admit, but I know that as soon as I started to question my own misgivings, I discovered that envy was real reason for my grumpiness.
So in the interest of some self-introspection and reflection, I have decided that it’s time to fully embrace the millennial spirit. And I think, no, I’m sure, that I will be a better person for it. Now it’s your turn? Are you ready?
Your Dose of Millennial Madness
For those of us in our late 30s and 40s, it’s time to catch up. For those of you in your 20s, here are some of our favorite blogs to follow to discover your own sense of style.