2023 was a big year for pop culture, from Beyoncé and Taylor Swift’s world tours to big movie releases like Barbie and The Little Mermaid reboot, to major TV moments like the final episodes of HBO’s Succession and the Sex and the City revival.
These moments provided more than entertainment—they gave us reasons to get together, have fun and break free from the confines of sweatpants. The retail landscape felt the influence of these moments with the emergence of new style ‘cores’—trends driven by a particular aesthetic—giving rise to 'barbiecore,' 'mermaidcore' and beyond, all amplified by social media platforms like TikTok.
This impact is evident in the findings of our 2024 Style Forecast, our annual trend report that analyzes how people are living, shopping and dressing today, and where trends are headed tomorrow. Informed by billions of data points on style and fit from our millions of clients, as well as insight from our stylists and trend experts, the forecast illuminates just how much these pop culture moments are influencing the way we dress.
The most talked about moments from the big screen—and the small screen—were also some of the most ‘trending’ with our clients as our stylists saw an astonishing 300% surge in client requests for maximalist 'Barbie-inspired' outfits throughout 2023. What’s more: we found that nearly half (47%) of our female clients say they draw fashion inspiration from the real-life Barbie counterpart, Margot Robbie, and 44% of our male clients covet the wardrobe of Ryan Reynolds. Requests for "Quiet Luxury" skyrocketed by 975%, influenced, in part, by Succession; and maybe Gwyneth Paltrow's televised courtroom battle led to the allure of understated elegance. Either way, pop culture was clearly a force of stylistic inspiration in 2023.
Trends that stay relevant for longer often have a connection to pop culture and align with wider societal themes. Take, for example, the resurgence of nostalgic styles. In the aftermath of challenging times, styles rooted in nostalgia provide more than just a fashion statement—they offer the comfort of familiarity and a connection to a time perceived as simple and carefree. An excellent example of this is the enduring influence of the iconic 90s movie "Clueless.” Our Style Forecast shows that clients are eagerly anticipating donning plaid styles (55%), loafers (46%) and varsity jackets (35%) in 2024, so it came as no surprise when trendsetter Kim Kardashian chose to channel Cher Horowitz for Halloween this year.
However, in the era of TikTok, where the trend cycle is only accelerating, keeping up with style has become a daunting challenge for some, adding layers of complexity to answering that age-old question: what shall I wear today? In fact, more than half of our clients admit to experiencing decision fatigue, feeling mentally overwhelmed or stressed when confronted with the task of choosing what to wear.
Our findings reveal a dichotomy—a desire among shoppers to embrace these fun trends, paired with an uncertainty about how to integrate them into their own style.
Our report predicts that the impact of pop culture on style will only continue, and consumers agree: 81% of our clients believe blockbusters, concerts and sports events will keep shaping trends in 2024. And with major cultural milestones like the Olympics on the horizon, we anticipate even more influences to break our normal style habits.
Now more than ever, retailers must possess precise insights into these cultural moments. Not only is this key in curating the right inventory, but it’s also crucial for understanding why these popular items resonate with the unique wants and needs of their customers. Offering customers guidance on how to integrate these pop culture influences into their wardrobes can become a form of customer engagement, transforming the shopping experience into a collaborative journey.