Now that we’ve had a couple weeks to reflect on what worked (and what was a complete disaster) in 2017, it’s the perfect time to examine emerging trends for 2018. Artists and makers find inspiration in a million places, and trend analysis adds context to what’s relevant and timely in your industry. Check out this list of 2018 trends to find marketing opportunities and growth potential for your creative business.
Craft Industry Trends
Pantone has dominated the market on color forecasting for years. Their official color of the year selection for 2018 is Pantone 18-3838 Ultra Violet, a cosmic color connected to mysticism and spiritual practices. The cool purple shade references the creative bounty of much-missed artists David Bowie and Prince. If last year’s pick, Greenery, was meant to represent a fresh start after a volatile election season, Ultra Violet may be a nod to bipartisanship. Pantone’s choices have the power to shape global trends: just as zeitgeist-y foods like avocado toast, matcha tea, and green juice flourished under Greenery’s rein in 2017, figs, purple carrots, and ube (purple yam) would be on-trend items to consider for artisan food businesses in 2018.
CostueroReal’s handmade cosmic maxi skirt.
Pantone cites “the vast and limitless night sky” as inspiration for their 2018 pick, which fits in with trends from 2017. Yayoi Kusama’s popular Infinity Rooms exhibition last year saw museum patrons waiting in long lines for their 45-second turn in a mirrored room that appears to drop you into outer space. Cosmic designs were included in Etsy’s trend forcast for the 2017 holiday season and beyond, and ‘celestial’ was reported to be one of their top search terms for the year.
Some complementary and secondary color stories in 2018 include:
- dusty desert shades (like the rust tones popular in F/W17 fashion, and yes, Millenial Pink, too)
- radiant citrus
- ultramarine blue
- bright poppy red (an orange-toned version, Tigerlily, is Kona fabrics official color of 2018)
- carmine red
- lilac (cited by retail trend forecaster Edited to be a color to watch in Spring 2018)
Oilslick, opal, and iridescent tones will continue to appear in the home decor, stationery, and gift markets, as “The Unicorn Effect” continues into 2018. Paint companies Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams offered lively choices as their 2018 colors for interiors – Caliente, a vibrant shade of red, and Oceanside, a rich teal hue, are their respective picks.
Zodiac trinket dish from Etsy seller Touched By The Moon
Pantone’s Ultra Violet is a dramatic hue tied to new-age spirituality. One similarly-shaded trending item in 2018 could include amethyst crystals: great to keep in mind if your brand intersects with spirituality or holistic wellness. Trend forecaster WGSN cites an increase in mainstream embrace of crystals as healing and wellness tools, which may extend to more new-age spirituality and astrology-driven designs in the craft marketplace in 2018.
Embroidery will continue to be a major trend in fashion in 2018, as retail markets reported a 188% increase in embroidered products in stores during 2017. Retail analysts predict that the trend “will continue into the new year, with a turn towards eighties-inspired imagery, with more animal motifs, stars and emblems.” Artisans have a unique advantage here: the more intricate and high-quality the embroidery design, the less likely it is to be copied. While enamel pins may be on the wane, embroidered patches will pick up the thread of trendy 80’s nostalgia.
Popular craft magazines like and Knit Wit, Koel Magazine, and Pom Pom Quarterly are elevating the conversation around contemporary fiber art, and offer fresh knit and crochet patterns to their subscribers. Recent coverage shows an uptick in innovative techniques, non-traditional materials, and craft informed by social justice movements.
Tetra offers designer-made smoking accessories.
January 1st ushered in marijuana legalization or decriminalization in several states, including California. Legislative changes may expand the market for handmade smoking accessories, and designers are poised to capitalize on the need for beautiful products and branding for new marijuana businesses. Online retailer Tetra and designer dispensary Serra each offer examples of a creative approach to servicing this industry. Ceramic artists may step in to provide beautifully crafted pipes and ashtrays, but should consult a lawyer to review marketing restrictions and other legal considerations.
Consumers will notice a shift towards a more holistic approach to wellness products in 2018, including mindfulness and meditation becoming more mainstream. Some scheduled releases from Chronicle Books exemplify this trend: their Unwind Every Day journal, and Mindfulness Cards both fit in with a holistic view of self-care. In a similar vein, Etsy is using holistic marketing language like, “mood-boosting jewelry” to describe items with inspirational quotes on them.
Trends in business
WkndLA‘s recent lookbook, titled “Better Together,” highlights diversity.
2018 could become a year of increased inclusivity, as 2017 saw a shift towards centering the voices and experiences of women via the #metoo movement and the hundreds of thousands of attendees at Women’s Marches in January. Many media sources are taking care to highlight more stories from women and minorities, which could provide new opportunities to highlight the work of artists and makers in our community. It’s vital for brands to consider inclusivity in their design process, as evidenced by recent backlash to fashion start-up Everlane’s choice not to offer plus-sized clothing. Consumers with disabilities, as well as customers from other under-represented groups are eager for goods designed with their needs in mind.
If you’re feeling exhausted by your social media feed, you’re not alone. Circa, an alarm clock that prevents you from being tethered to your phone at bedtime, raised over $100K on Kickstarter in November, illustrating that thoughtful unplugging is gaining popularity. Social media fatigue and unplugging will gather steam in 2018, and creatives who rely on social media to reach their customers will need to reinforce their authentic connections with their followers to remain relevant.
Those of you in the education or service side of the craft world know that our industry is in flux. Full-time creative industry jobs are being replaced with freelancers, creating a need for education focused on managing a freelance career. Intuit’s market research team predicts that 40% of the US workforce will be freelance, contract, or contingent workers by 2020. Whether artists are crafting as their full time gig, or as a side-hustle that provides additional income, they will be searching for new apps, online communities, and digital resources to make their creative careers possible.
Amazon’s dominance has contributed to massive shifts in online shoppers’ expectations. Craft businesses are struggling to offer free shipping, speedy delivery, and easy returns, which online buyers now expect. In 2018, shoppers are predicted to demand even more convenience. We’ll see more AI chatbots aiding the online shopping process, and quick (even same day) delivery becoming the norm. Shopify is clued in to the latter trend, offering shipping integration with Postmates to expedite local deliveries. Etsy also offered this service in 2015, but imposed an additional fee that discouraged shoppers from trying out same day delivery. Indie craft businesses and makers will need to develop strategies to meet consumer expectations without sacrificing their bottom line.
As you reflect on popular trends for 2018, keep the needs of your customers in mind, and look for opportunities to create stories around these themes that could be useful in your PR and marketing. Building a business solely around trends is difficult to sustain, but using them in your product planning can add cultural relevance and connect you with a larger audience.
Erin Dollar is an artist, surface pattern designer, and founder of Cotton & Flax, a collection of boldly patterned textile home decor that is designed and manufactured in California. Her work has been sold in 100+ retail shops, from indie boutiques, to large mass-market retailers like West Elm, CB2, and Need Supply. By growing her ecommerce business to accommodate wholesale buyers, she has built a sustainable business that generates income year-round, and built a platform for long-term growth. See her webinar, Wholesale for Craft Business, in our archives.