The Bold and the Beautiful: “Maximalist” Aesthetic Makes a Splash in Culture

January 26, 2022

Over the decades, fashion trends have been born, evolved, buried, and resurrected. Rinse, wash, repeat. But today, pandemic-induced stress, isolation and subsequent tech reliance are pushing people to embrace themselves and stand out in new, bold ways. Online culture is driving mega shifts in the way people express themselves – especially for the younger crowd. In fact, 83% of adults 18-24 (vs. 39% of adults 25+) told us in December, “Expressing myself in social media is an essential part of how I openly express my identity. I can’t imagine life without it.”* Gen-Z’s self-empowered approach to identity is driving a movement toward high-volume maximalist and colorful style for all generations; A trend we call Maximally Me – an evolution of a macrotrend we’ve been tracking since 2019 called Over the Top.

Y2K RESURRECTION

Borrowed fashion trends are not new, but it may be surprising to see that #Y2K fashion is making a comeback with Gen Z. For Millennials, turn-of-the-century fashion brings up middle school PTSD and over-accessorized, tween-angst cringe. But with 4.3B views on TikTok, #Y2K is (for the moment) here to stay. While many Gen Z’s weren’t even alive to experience the glory of the 2000s, their unlimited access to content gives them the ability to “download” and revamp iconic styles across time – and make it theirs. One viral TikToker, @teabby, brings her 549K followers into her closet to celebrate the hyper-loud aesthetic and music of the idealized 2000s era in her GRWM (get ready with me) videos. Another Gen Z influencer has even made a successful business revitalizing the era. Natalia Spotts brings 90’s and 2000s fashion to New Yorkers in her vintage shop, Funny Pretty Nice, in SoHo. According to Vogue Business, Natalia is projected to reach $1.2M in year-one sales, and she’s prepping to open another NYC flagship location in March this year.

COLORING OUTSIDE THE LINES

While minimalist aesthetic still has its place in the sun, a countertrend of hyper-loud colorful chaos is getting a spotlight in the world of fashion. On Pinterest, searches for “vibrant outfits” grew 16X between October 2019 and September 2021. Maximalism, defined in Wikipedia as “an aesthetic of excess,” fuels itself on the philosophy of “more is more.” That means: Color, Patterns, Layers, Galore! With 132M views on TikTok, #Maximalism aesthetics find their footing in apparel, interior design, and accessories. One influencer, @saracampz, breaks fashion conventions with her mis-matched patterns and bold color choices that magically work together. Maximalist design breathes life into retail, too. Last summer, maximalist interior designer Noz Nozawa of Noz Design helped business owner Marie McCarthy envision and execute a second store location for Fiat Lux, a jewelry shop and piercing studio in the Bay Area. In November, Nozawa maximally designed a nouveau diner in North Beach called Hilda and Jesse – where breakfast menu items, like their “Pancakes Without Boundaries,” are just as over-the-top playful.

WHAT IT MEANS

Maximalist aesthetics may seem unapproachable, but to us, it’s a category-agnostic winning strategy for brands of all kinds. Whether art directing for content, web-design, or interior spaces, maximalist design helps encourage feelings of intrigue, impulse, and playful creativity. Not to mention – it’s unquestionably ‘Grammable.

HOW TO APPLY THIS TREND: SECTOR-SPECIFIC EXAMPLES

  • Entertainment: Remember how Rachel’s haircut on Friends became a moment of its own? Now, iconic looks inspired by shows like HBO’s Euphoria are transforming the makeup industry. To fuel inspiration, build surprising and eye-catching maximalist design and aesthetic into your set design, wardrobe, and makeup artistry. Bonus? Build a pop-up experience “replica set” where people can photograph themselves and share with friends.
  • Home: A paint brand could capitalize on the maximalist moment by creating a custom line of new colors that don’t just accent a wall, they #AccentAll. For novice maximalists, create a style guide for maximalist paint tips (like expert color-clashing) on your website.
  • Fashion: A department store brand could inspire a deeper discovery in-store with alluring maximalist window displays that break conventions and disrupt routine shopping behaviors. A bathing suit and fishnets with a chunky neon bag? Why not?! Pulling inspiration from TikToker @saracampz, start with a single item as a “shining star” and build your look around it, weaving various color elements into your palette to draw attention and foot traffic.

Source: *Horizon Media, Finger on the Pulse. Survey fielded 11/29/21-12/9/21, n=1,140

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