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The Age of the Amateur

In a Business of Fashion podcast posted last month, BoF founder, Imran Amed, interviewed trend futurist Lidewij Edelkoort. Edelkoort first launched her own trend forecasting agency, Trend Union, way back in 1975. The podcast is a part of a special series that is looking at the impact this pandemic will make on the fashion and retail world. Amongst a whole bunch of gold nuggets Li Edelkoort dropped throughout the conversation, there was one term she introduced that made me sit-up straight and listen. When asked what trends we will see emerge in the future, Edelkoort predicted the next era will be ‘The Age of the Amateur.’

Edelkoort went on to define ‘amateur’ as a person who didn’t really know how to do something, but the love for doing it overcame that lack of knowledge.

This concept dovetails perfectly into what we’ve already seen happening in the fringes for the past decade. The rise of the hipster movement and the gig economy diametrically oppose the industrial revolution's mass-production, traditional 9-5 lifestyle. And where once working for a big corporate provided us a job for life - or at the very least sick pay and annual leave - with the grinding halt of the global economy and mass-layoffs, the appeal of working on one’s own terms becomes only more appealing. I think the final push toward The Age of the Amateur, comes as a reaction to the current era - The Age of Big Data. As volumes of information are collected from us, on us, there's the uncomfortable feeling of simultaneously being spied upon, and feeling like an insignificant drop in the ocean. I can't help but wonder if the rise of individualism could be an opportunity to reset the boundaries between what makes us unique? And then, how we individually knit into the wider world? Big business have sensed this was coming, because we’ve already watched them adapt their products and communications to become more bespoke and more human. Product ranges that already come in every colour, can be personalised with custom-printing, embossing or embroidery. Social media has forced corporate language to become more conversational and a two-way experience. In relation to the fashion and retail industry, Edelkoort’s prediction is that arts and crafts cottage industries will continue to build in popularity. Of course, we will still shop, but where we once (thoughtlessly) consumed fast-fashion, we will shift our focus to seek out handmade goods, crafted by the artisan, in The Age of the Amateur.


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