Tech scammers out, Abercrombie in: What ‘vibe change’ will bring in 2023 | life and style
YesYou might not need to be a trend forecaster to know this, but “2023 is going to be a bad year.” So says Sean Monahan, who writes the sub-stack 8 ballsand last year correctly predicted the “mood change” popularized in a widely shared essay in the Cut by Allison P Davis.
“It’s hard for me to predict or have a strong hunch for 2023 because the economy is behaving very strangely now,” Monahan told the Guardian.
However, some trends are already emerging. Enjoy the Sam Bankman Fried crypto drama while you still can because the scammers are out, he says. Tech is no longer “the last good career”. Music also faces a bleak future. And don’t be surprised if 2023 sees you catching a show or partying in a converted office space.
What do you think we’ll leave behind 2023?
One thing I’ve made jokes about is that it’s the end of zero interest rate culture. It’s called the millennium lifestyle subsidy: things like Uber, Airbnb, or delivery services were cheap and priced below what it cost to provide that service, because Interest rates were very low throughout the 2010s. As that changes, we’re going to see some of the changes in the types of businesses people start.
I can already tell that it will be much harder to be a scammer in 2023 than in 2019. Five years ago you could see people getting a lot of funding, and it was hard to understand where they got that money. They clearly had no business experience, no technology skills, and no ability to create products.
There’s a reason we’ve had so many scammers and con artists over the past decade: there was more money looking for a place to make a profit. It’s going away, and I think that’s a good thing. There was this millennial idea that tech was the last good career, and that seems to be over. From a cultural point of view, it has no aura.
Who is due to return this year?
Lindsay Lohan, but it’s a bit in the making. Cobrasnake made a comeback, as did the Strokes. Abercrombie has had a comeback. I think people want the old Abercrombie. There was this documentary on Netflix, which laid bare all their terrible and racist business practices.
Despite the brand’s moral reservations, the brand image was very strong and relevant, all that Bruce Weber photographs, homoeroticism and a relaxed northeast vibe. I see people wearing those old Abercrombie and Fitch briefs with the underwear strip right above the jeans, so people can see it.
What did you do with Balenciaga’s recent campaign, with teddy bears in bondage gear and articles on child abuse law? It was meant to be edgy or subversive, but it ended up playing into QAnon’s hand.
Maybe there are some things where your wry humor will get you in trouble, and Balenciaga has certainly discovered a third rail here. The nervousness will not go away; I think smaller brands will always do that. I don’t know if the big brands will. I think Balenciaga’s biggest problem over the past two years is being too dominant for too long. Fashion is a system that relies on novelty and the reversal of the people who run the scoreboard.
I think there is a desire to rebrand Céline as the cool kids brand rather than Balenciaga. And that goes back to the 2010s: Celine’s rise happened then. Again, these are cool kids looking just beyond the horizon of what everyone loves. Indie sleaze has returned during the pandemic, but now you see people looking to the horizon of late hipster-dom and revising minimalism.
Think minimalism is coming back after a year of overdone dopaminergic band-aids?
I don’t think it will come back anytime soon. The whole last decade has been so minimalist. And that can be a problem for fashion: if brands become so minimalist, it’s hard to tell them apart.
When I think of minimalism, I think of the new aesthetic of technological products. Everything looks the same, and has for a while. So there is a burn-out with minimalism. Everyone has the same phone. But suddenly we see young people going out and buying digital cameras when they already have their iPhones. They don’t want all their photos to look the same. There is boredom in there.
What else do you think we will be wearing in 2023?
Some people have asked about the return of normcore. And here’s the thing: Millennials are becoming yuppies. They’ve grown up, and that’s part of what changing the mood is. The original normcore dynamic was interesting, not necessarily because of the styles, but because of who wore it. There was something ironic, and perhaps somewhat infuriating, about having cool inner-city kids dressed like suburban moms. I don’t know if it’s as interesting to have suburban moms dressed up as suburban moms. There certainly seems to be a rise in the preppy aesthetic, which seems to continue to rise.
Gen Z and Millennials showed up in droves to vote midterm. How do you think people will engage in politics this year?
There is a burnout with politics, especially the hyper-politicization of social media. We’re all exhausted by the late 2010s. And I think we’ll see an avoidance of political conflict online. Voting is different – it’s a proven method of political engagement. But the social justice movements of 2020 have been fully integrated into corporate marketing. These things don’t feel punk or edgy anymore because you see them in soap commercials.
Arguing with people on the internet that you disagree with them seems over. Or at least it resembles the behavior of older people. A good parallel would be why millennials stopped using Facebook around the 2016 election, because they didn’t want to continue fighting with their family members over Trump. Facebook has become a single note this way. So people migrated to Instagram, but now Instagram has the same dynamic that people increasingly want to avoid. Doing a political slideshow on Instagram is something I only see a millennial do.
Why is 2000s nostalgia still so alluring right now?
Well, nostalgia periods are always reinterpretations of the periods they point to. When I was young in the early 2000s, there was a lot of 80s nostalgia. And people who consider themselves avant-garde will push the nostalgia a bit, to seem more original. Now you have kids who say, “Oh no, I’m not interested in mid-2012, I’m interested in 2012.” But in general, I think it’s because when you have young people watching parties from that era, they seem to be a lot wilder. And they were.
When I moved to New York in 2010, there were still abandoned industrial spaces in North Brooklyn. People were having parties there; it was the outgrowth of the DIY movement of the early 2000s and the accessibility of live/work studios. Now, it’s very hard to find a cheap live/work studio if you’re an underemployed 23-year-old. The amount of space young people have to socialize is much lower. And it will never come back.
Where will young people gather and socialize if they have been price out of most cities?
One thought is that perhaps with the rise of remote working, this office space could be converted into clubs. But the arc of those cities like New York or London having industrial spaces that kids can convert into housing, clubs and art studios is really not coming back. And I don’t think people are as comfortable with teenagers having independent spaces. Your parents couldn’t put a tracker on your cell phone in 2003, but they can now.
Still, people want to come together, and there are strict limits to what the digital socialization and communities we’ve seen during lockdowns can achieve without an IRL component. Socializing has become much more expensive, especially, again, compared to a decade ago when you could get $2 PBRs instead of a $30 martini. People are trying to find a way around it. Perhaps video games, or spaces like Twitch, could become a substitution.
Music is going to struggle this year. Cheap and seedy rooms are gone, so young people are using video games as a social space. It’s like a phone call, but you also do an activity together.
What do you mean when you say the music is going to struggle this year?
I don’t mean people are going to stop making music and music scenes, but we have a shift where people are listening to more catalog music than new music. The music was a relatively specialized thing, and part of the reason people cared about the scenes was that it was something other people didn’t know about and that made them special. It doesn’t seem as special when Spotify and Apple Music organize everything you listen to. These are algorithmic recommendations, as opposed to a friend sending you something or you being invited to a space. It made the music much less special.