SLEEK’s 2018 Trend Forecast

If you're looking to stay ahead of the curve then look no further. We've got witchy premonitions for 2018.

In an effort to leave this seemingly unending train-wreck of a year behind, we here at SLEEK have focused our attention toward the 12 mysterious months ahead. Although we may not be as reliable as your daily horoscope at predicting the future, we reckon we have some certifiable hypotheses regarding the next “big” things in the big one-eight. We’ve assembled a list of trend-forecasts for the coming year, covering art, music, fashion and beyond. And despite our witchy premonitions being merely premonitions, when you suddenly find yourself next year without eyebrows in Serbia, don’t say we didn’t give you adequate warning.

1. Gorpcore, when mountain clothing goes luxe

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Already annoyed with normcore? Get ready for another peculiar style-ladden neologism. Ever heard of Gorp? This word, which used to refer the snacks mix used by hikers for an energy boost (Good Ol’ Raisins and Peanuts), will likely define the future of your wardrobe. Gorpcore is a fashion trend rooted in outdoor attire – as such, the Gorpcore vogue is big on sheep skin, oversized parkas, fleece jackets, cargo pants, bum bags, hiking boots and of course puffas (otherwise known as the wearable version of a sleeping bag). All in all, the hiking apparel you’ve been saving/hiding for winter weekend getaways is now all the rage for everyday wear. The style has been upgraded by Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga, however functional pieces from the likes of North Face, Patagonia or Salomon also do the trick. And for the best of both worlds, you can check out the collaboration between Napapijri and Martine Rose which has been the talk of the fashion-town.

– Jean-François Adjabahoué

2. The meme-ification of contemporary art

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It’s no surprise that brands and corporations have already co-opted memes: millenials (aka the most desirable category of people to market) find them relatable. Contemporary art remains an elitist, if not classist, universe, and some of its older forces still refuse to see it democratised. However, artists have started to embrace memes’ codes as a way to communicate concepts and ideas to the viewer: Cali Thornhill DeWitt might be the most blatant example of this, and Barbara Kruger actually started this decades ago. As memes grow in popularity, so will their use in contemporary art; whether this specific form of communication will create the necessary cracks in this secluded world remains to be seen.

Karim Krippa

3. Sherbert Orange

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In the past year, workwear orange made unexpected appearances on runways and in closets. 2018 will be the year of its tame descendant. It may seem like pastels have been on trend, for like, ever, but we’re expecting fashion to embrace an unlikely new player this coming year, sherbet orange—  also known as soft peach or sun-kissed orange. Combining the most hated colour of the rainbow with the most hated range of hues, sherbert orange is indubitably a chromatic underdog. Our underdog orange has been spotted on the runway more than once, making cheeky appearances in the SS18 collections of Victoria Beckham, Celine, Calvin Klein and Sies Marjan, to name a few. Expect it to trend in makeup as well, with hip brands like Fenty and Milk already making satsuma-gelato inspired hues available for both eye and lip. A sherbert orange makeup look was recently sported by Margot Robbie on the red carpet premiere of Goodbye Christopher Robin. In the words of Elle Woods, “whoever said orange was the new pink, was seriously disturbed!”, but in our defense, Elle hadn’t already lived through the era of millennial pink. Bust your Dreamsicles out of the freezer, folks!

4. Hyped-gelled, “wet” hair

Some very daring cuts have come to define “hip” hair. Our premonition is that the reign of straight cut fringe, the undercut and the baby bang are coming to an end. Any reasonable person with fringe has likely asked themselves: how will I ever grow this out? The answer is patience and gallons of hair gel. SLEEK predicts slicked back, heavily gelled hair will trend in 2018. If last year was the year of the Matrix sunglasses, the next will bring Matrix hair mania. Slicking your hair back is practical for the sake of removing awkward length hairs from your face, and fortuitously fashionable (with a capital F), thanks to the Fenty Puma, Prabal Gurung, Phillip Lim, Alexander McQueen and Chanel’s SS18 shows. There’s a surprising amount of leniency within the slicked back category, which ranges from marble precision to grungy chaos. All of those guilty of hitting the snooze button in the morning should rejoice in the coming year, because the “I literally just got out of the shower” is now officially chic.

5. Polish cuisine

Our times are troubled; the world is in flames, and while most of us remain untouched by the really awful aspects of world politics, we still long for a place in which we can regress into a feeling of safety and warmth. Polish cuisine might provide you with such a place, and it might be more necessary than you’d think. The cuisine of Poland abounds with dishes consisting mainly of buttery carbs, soothing to both the stomach and the soul. Polish cooks have learned how to be resourceful, as the country has been subject to privations, wars, repressions and other disasters for many centuries, which is why polish cuisine is also economical. With just a few basic ingredients – potatoes, butter, milk, salt –  the Poles have managed to create explosions of deeply satisfying tastes and textures. For freelancing underpaid millenials anxious about most aspects of their lives, it might be the best way to find solace during one of those long-ass Berlin winter days.

Karim Krippa

6. Rediscovering jazz


After a long and still undergoing R&B phase, it’s time for jazz to fuel the creative fire of a new generation of artists. For upcoming musicians like Poppy Ajudha, Oscar Jerome and Charlotte Dos Santos, jazz influences are blended into an eclectic genre, invoking the kind of energy emitted by Gil Scott-Heron or Erykah Badu. As is evident in the blossoming South London jazz scene (Moses Boyd, Zara McFarlane, Ezra Collective), a generation of gifted musicians and singers is channeling jazz intensity to produce an exciting and modern musical hybrid (grime, pop and electronic is often added to the mix) appropriate for festivals, dancefloors and jazz clubs alike. The product of these playful experimentations has been made popular by trendsetting music platforms like Boiler Room, Colors Berlin or east London’s radio NTS. Careful listens of aforementioned artists will force you to admit that unlike La La Land’s misleading theories, jazz music’s legacy is still very much alive (and kicking).

– Jean-François Adjabahoué

7. The capsule biennial

People visiting this year’s documenta(s) might have learned the hard way what “overwhelming” really means. Thousands of pieces by hundreds of artists were on view, and somehow one couldn’t fight the feeling that there was a reason so many of them had been kept in obscurity until then – their work just wasn’t surprising, innovative, or interesting. The Venice Biennale too was spiked with rather mediocre contributions that seemed unnecessary. In fact, the third mega-event of the year, Skulptur Projekte Münster, was the most well received – perhaps because the curators made the wise choice to limit themselves to 35 excellent positions. 2018 will hopefully follow this trend: drastically reduce the number of artists involved in one of the many biennial / triennial / quinquennial events dotting the art world calendar, but giving them, and the visitors, more space to breathe, unfold and think.

Karim Krippa

8. Korean designers getting the attention they deserve

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Korea has proven itself to be a powerhouse of contemporary culture, commanding international acclaim for its food, music, beauty products and of course, fashion. As the fourth largest economy in Asia, it’s clear that Seoul is gunning to surpass Tokyo’s long held position as the fashion capital of the East. The country is like an assembly line of boundary pushing brands, churning out one after another that are more than worthy of the West’s attention. Brave, bold and genderless designs abound from brands like Juun.J, pushBUTTON and Blindness, which represent only a fraction of the creative talents driving their rapidly growing industry. KYE, General Idea and Wooyoungmi illustrate a distinctly youth driven and trend privy culture, embracing playful and quirky spins on sizing, color and pattern. Expect the energy of Korean designers to be met with deserved hype in the coming year, as these designers gain mainstream attention and continue their elegant seduction of Western markets.

9. Belgrade

Image: Marko Kosovcevic via Creative Commons

Is Belgrade the new Berlin? No, but it may be the new Athens. In the coming year, expect a surge of attention toward Serbia’s capital, a gritty treasure rich with history. The rapidly growing city is a product of a complicated past; given 500 years of Turkish rule, 50 years of communism, and the 1999 NATO bombings, it should come as no surprise that counterculture is thriving amongst the wear and tear of its overarching regimes. We’re anticipating a major creative flock, given Belgrade’s appallingly affordable rent, which, when partnered with innumerable coffee houses and rowdy bars, is basically begging for artists’ attention. It’s reputation as a year round party city is upheld by a vivacious nightlife scene which caters to every interest, from experimental jazz to industrial techno. Belgrade’s most famous club, Drugstore, has a reputation as positive as Serbia’s award winning music festival, Exit. Serbian culture proves a convenient counterpart to nightlife, given the Serb’s reputation for four hour lunches and sleeping in late. Honestly, what better place to build your next light installation?

10. Non-binary heels

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Fashion has always been a powerful tool to both express and protest identities. Subcultural style is rooted in the layers of signification hidden in garb: class, race, gender, age, politics and perspective. Heels have become synonymous with heteronormativity, stereotypical femininity and old fashioned gender politics. In some circles, the heel is remembered as the corset of the 20th century, a vestige of the imbalances of expectations of man and woman. The prominence of the sneaker and boot in womenswear is more than just a trend, it’s a mark of a modification in the roles women play in our world. Needless to say, heel culture is alive and well, and plenty of designers continue to send out hoards of gorgeous stilettos, wedges, pumps and peep-toes. SLEEK predicts that 2018 will be the year of the heel’s return…. with a woke vengeance. Expect to see red bottoms (aka bloody shoes) and other household name designers to manufacture heels in larger and wider sizes, appropriate for all female and non-female identifying consumers. We hope 2018 will be a year of unlearning past associations and mark a “queering” of one of fashion’s most gender-laden shoes.

11. Vine’s Return

The internet has yet to accept the loss of its beloved video platform, Vine. The app, initially released in 2012 after it was purchased by Twitter, had 200 million active users just three year later– all united by an obsession with 6 second long looping videos. The time constraint, choppy editing and infinite loop encouraged creativity, producing carousels of humor, horror and delight. The result was a myriad of mesmerizing videos which would go on to serve as cultural touchstones in global digital culture. Its self referential nature allowed for infinite remakes and remixes, leading to viral hits like the Squidward dab, what are those, damn daniel, and all things Ted Cruz. How could the internet ever stop mourning the death of the platform that produced Ryan Gosling eating cereal, pronouncing things incorrectly and the running man challenge? To the delight of millions, on December 6th vine co-founder Dom Hofmann tweeted a cryptic “v2”, after claiming he was “working on a follow up” to the original app. The internet will surely applaud Vine’s zombie resurrection. If it does come back next year, we can remember 2017 as the year so shit that Vine had to skip it. 

12. “Call Me by Your Name” takes it all

Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer’s on-screen chemistry reaches far in this adaptation of Aciman’s coming-of-age novel. Set in beguiling Italian landscapes, the Luca Guadagnino-directed movie explores the poignant bond between Elio (a 17-year-old played by the flamboyant Timothée Chalamet) and Oliver the oh-so-handsome research assistant working for his father (played by the magnetic Armie Hammer, also seen in Nocturnal Animals this year). The sensual summery romance took the cine-sphere by storm and earned the entire team praises at every festival they attended in 2017. Further European releases at the beginning of the year (the movie comes out in Germany on March 3rd) will surely unveil the full potential of this gem, which is likely to make waves at the next Oscars ceremony. Meanwhile, you can quench your thirst with countless listens of the soundtrack, which features two exclusive/exquisite tracks by Sufjan Stevens.

– Jean-François Adjabahoué

13. Queer ikebana

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Ikebana, the japanese art of composing tableaus with plants, is simply exquisite. By exquisite we mean sublime – place a well-executed ikebana next to a Michelangelo fresco, and the latter will look like the gory, Freudian dream of a libidinous peasant. Just like drinking tea, tying knots or talking with someone, the Japanese have elevated placing flowers in a vase into a complex artform reflecting deep philosophical concerns. Hence, ikebana seems like an ideal art form to be queered: flowers have an aesthetic and socio-historical meaning begging to be challenged; the codes associated with them can be twisted and reappropriated, a strategy essential in queer theory. Not to mention, they are literally the dragged up version of a plant’s genitals. Exploring ideas around sexuality, gender and identity through meditative flower arrangements definitely seems like something with a high instagram popularity potential in 2018. Try it, it’s both fun and calming – and check out Robert Mapplethorpe’s gorgeous photographs of tulips, Calla lilies and orchids in case you need starter’s inspiration.

Karim Krippa

14. Shaved eyebrows

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Looking back we can watch our eyebrows change and morph with passing time. They’ve been thin. They’ve been thick. They’ve been #onfleek. Yet the past year was (to both our horror and delight) somewhat of a brow-renaissance. 2017 was indisputably the year of the over-the-top brow, bringing us viral innovations like the wave, lightning bolt and nike swoosh. With such opulent brow trends dictating the past year, we predict that 2018 will embody its negation. Say goodbye to painstaking care and exhausting precision! Ciao to your worries about whether they’re too thick, too thin or uneven. The brow trend of 2018? No brows at all. We’re tipping our caps to social media sensation @uglyworldwide for showing the world how to look sexy as hell without your forehead’s trusted counterparts. Freshly shaved brows will usher in a new era of alien glam, where the fearless and fabulous will sacrifice their body hair to the fashion gods.

15. Robot sex

Between algorithms to find your one true love, dating apps and remote-controlled sex toys, technology has slowly become a part of our sex lives. 2017 took it even further.  There was fitbit for your penis, a stretchable ring that provides delightful statistics such as thrust speed and calories burned, so even sex can be turned into a joyless competition! We were introduced to one robot with AI capable of showing signs of arousal and another who declared she’d love to start a family. It’s time for 2018 to bring on the augmented sex dolls– who know all about your kinks, but will never ever throw you a weird look. How about sex toys that will also check your blood pressure while they’re at it? We wouldn’t even be surprised to see those social media buttons on porn sites being put to good use… and not only by the sex gif Twitter accounts you look at in incognito mode. But if we’re going to draw data from our lovemaking sessions, maybe we should start counting female orgasms. The truth might be uncomfortable, but we can only go higher from there.

Elise Jost

16. Beauty brands (finally) recognise diversity

Political, economic and religious turmoil (Trump’s election, Brexit, nuclear threats in Asia, conflicts in the Middle East to name a few) will urge beauty industry leaders to address diversity and representation more accordingly. Thanks to the launch of Rihanna’s inclusive brand, the number of shades made available to women of colour across the board has has improved since last September. For the launch of Fenty, the R&B superstar declared “Fenty Beauty was created for everyone: for women of all shades, personalities, attitudes, cultures and races. I wanted everyone to feel included.” The cruelty-free line’s endgame was to target a consumer group who had been left aside by big beauty brands. She achieved her goal with great success, considering the darker shades sold out on the first day. Since then, other beauty brands have taken notice and aligned their communication strategy with Fenty’s example. In showing that diversity matters, Rihanna initiated an overdue update to the cosmetics industry and paved the way for more positive change. Of course, diversity goes further than the colour of your skin and should also include age, size and gender, meaning there is still room for progress to be made in 2018 and after.

– Jean-François Adjabahoué

17. Neo Emo

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With more than 10 years of distance, we can finally move past the cringes and shudders which onset when recalling our years shopping at Hot Topic and listening to My Chemical Romance. As embarrassing as our bangs, raccoon eyeliner and studded belts were, “Emo” was a legitimate and robust subculture which deserves some critical thought. Although first coined in the 90s to describe bands like Weezer, the “Emo” in question here refers to its mainstream peak, from 2001 to 2006. Characterized by melodramatic, confessional lyrics and flamboyant melodies, Emo music was unapologetic catharsis for suburban teens coming of age during the embarrassment of the Bush years, the aftermath of 9/11 and the rise of social media. Green Day was one of the only explicitly political bands; other groups like Fall Out Boy, New Found Glory and Red Jumpsuit Apparatus operated on a politic of emotion, drawing inspiration from insecurity and ostracism. It’s more than appropriate that in the age of Trump and Brexit we remember Emo with nuance and consideration. Judging by how popular LA’s Emo Nite was in recent months, SLEEK predicts the coming year will bring heaps of op-eds and ironic Emo fashion. Expect Emo nostalgia to make its way back into music as well, likely in Hip Hop and R&B, a style pioneered by the beloved Lil Peep.

18. Michael Halpern’s disco couture

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Central Saint Martins strikes again! In just two collections CSM alumnus Michael Halpern has become the fashion spheres’ latest wunderkind. After collaborating with J.W. Anderson and working as a consultant for Atelier Versace, the American young-blood is already dressing the likes of Kate Moss, Adwoa Aboah and Beyoncé in his eye-catching designs. It’s accurate to say shedding light on women is his forte, considering his dazzling dresses earned him a prize as British Emerging Talent in Womenswear this year. His sumptuous Autumn/Winter collection reads as an ode to nighttime hedonism, a liking he inherited from his parents who were Studio 54’s regulars. With profusion of sequins, Swarovski crystals and satin dresses, Michael Halpern merges the tropes of Haute Couture with a contemporary edge and creates a luminous wardrobe for bold women. Disco delights for 2018, anyone?

– Jean-François Adjabahoué

19. A shift in focus from old female artists to the post-normative generation


The past couple of years have seen gallerists and institutions, both established and emerging, suddenly (re-)discover the work of old (or dead) female contemporary artists. Their presence in exhibition programs was and still is a welcome break from machoid practices by white male artists; but now, it seems this marketing trick is getting a bit tired. As a replacement, 2018 might be the year of very young artists who stopped placing themselves in any given gender category. They use unconventional pronouns, are politically engaged and eager to challenge the conditions in which their art is produced, exhibited and perceived. Off-spaces and digital exhibition platforms are already cooperating with this new generation, and 2018 might be the year in which museums and galleries recognize these creatives, often born after 1990, as a group worthy of serious exposure. What will be required for success though is an aptitude to use critique of their post-normative practices and discourses not as a reason to feel attacked, but as a chance to challenge the mainstream even further – by mediating it with the intelligence and digital savvy so many of them possess.

Karim Krippa

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