Everything goes full circle. When fashions resurface, which they invariably do, they are embellished by the younger generations in order to validate them, whilst the older amongst us will smile and nod knowingly.
It is interesting that the key underlying trend, across all product sectors, be they food, clothing or transport, is a return to simpler times. Fast fashion is being challenged with a movement towards retaining clothing for longer and recycling rather than landfilling; in bygone times this might be considered as the ‘make do and mend’ mindset. Flight-shaming is the latest response to curbing unnecessary air travel which, of course, negatively impacts the environment; in years gone by unnecessary travel was not even an option. Similarly, with food, fast food is being replaced by slow food, back to basics and transparency; previous generations sourced ingredients locally, prepared foods themselves, and never wasted.
Maybe it would be prudent for us all to consider the fact that a significant portion of society is undergoing a paradigm shift away from the complex and unnecessary, that is underpinned by stewardship; that is, looking after the planet for future generations.
It is interesting to note that the regularly issued and updated trends seem to identify components of this bigger, all-encompassing change that is affecting our global society, spanning every aspect of our lives. Taking the food industry as an example, many trend keywords over recent years are related to the values associated with the pre-processed-food era; natural, provenance, transparency, sustainability, simplicity, food-waste. Whilst the pre-processed-food generations were doing what they did out of necessity, there is now a shift towards these same requirements but for personal health and the health of the planet.
Other trend keywords of recent years include mindful eating, which at its heart encourages the consumer to be aware of, and enjoy, the experience of consuming food, engaging all the senses to benefit the mind and the body. This trend requires and promotes the consumption of good quality, healthful foods, which is an embellishment of the pre-processed-food era values.
Then there is veganism, which one could argue is actually fuelling food processing R&D, although interestingly there is a splintering of veganism occurring with one faction happy to accept the processed faux-meat alternatives, and the other faction wanting to make vegetables the star of the meal without non-natural interventions. In the latter case, there is a basic, healthy and almost frugal existence which fits with the pre-processed-food era, which also consciously is working towards a more sustainable future.
So, in an eco-nutshell, we appear to be taking the over-riding values of the past and embellishing them to address our current environmental and societal issues. Innovations in farming means that more interesting and robust produce is available, although some of this variety comes at the expense of the environment given the food miles involved. The big wins in terms of product development will come with mindful product development, which conceptually, adheres closely to a desire for transparent, healthful, local and sustainable products. Mindful product development is not a fad, and it is becoming the way to do business. Nothing exists in isolation and stewardship is everyone’s responsibility.