2024 Trend Preview: Connecting the Dots

December 28, 2023

Remember when you were a kid? You were just drawing lines on a page with a bunch of numbers and dots scattered on it. Slowly but surely a picture formed before your eyes, leaving you wondering why you didn’t see it before.

When Sherlock Holmes or some other brilliant detective solves a mystery, they’re not pulling a solution out of thin air – they’re connecting the dots of evidence to see how different things are related, getting the full picture and drawing the logical conclusion. What seemed uncertain (maybe even impossible) initially suddenly becomes clear.

You don’t have to be a child or the world’s greatest detective to do this – you connect the dots all the time whenever you engage in a problem-solving process.

“Dot connectors are tuned in to key pieces of information and they understand the importance of how it relates to other, often seemingly unrelated, information.”

So here’s the real mystery: how does all this paint a picture of next year’s trends? As it turns out, connections are at the very heart of it.

This year, we’ve tapped into connecting our emotions to the products we buy, like in this recent Homegoods “Finding Is a Feeling” ad campaign. Stop-motion animator Anna Mantzaris worked with Apple to creatively connect people through a familiar story in “Fuzzy Feelings.” Krispy Kreme in the United Kingdom sought a way to connect with their customers, and produced the “world’s first SADvert,” a sunlight-therapy billboard to help fight Seasonal Affective Disorder during the darkest months of the year.

The Joy Of MovementAll these different expressions share a common thread: businesses are responding to our need for connection and community through marketing efforts and product offerings, because thriving customers mean a thriving business in 2024.

The Joy of Movement

Take another look at that Homegoods ad and you’ll see movement from beginning to end, and that’s no mistake. Movement is a part of so many of the activities we engage in right now, whether it’s playing pickleball, hiking to explore a new place or our latest Olympic sport,  breakdancing.

“Clubbing” in 2024 means being social and connecting with one another while we engage in wellness together, sometimes competitively but always inclusive. “Kidulting” has been on the rise since the pandemic, focused on the joys of nostalgia and the light-hearted activities we indulged in as children.

Apparel that supports this trend can range from tees and shorts to hoodies and jackets – anything that emphasizes physical activity and celebrates movement will fit right in.

The Strength of Heroes

The Strength of Heroes

One thing I like about Apple’s “Fuzzy Feelings” ad is how it reframes how we think about heroes – sometimes it’s not big acts of bravery that make a hero, but small acts of kindness. Keep that in mind as we continue the conversation about hero styles that we started talking about in 2023.

Hero styles are those core pieces that become a staple of our wardrobes – the tee you own in every color or the vest that just goes with everything. Identifying these styles with your customers can help provide everything from meaningful employee gifts to uniforms that workers want to wear. This means looking relevant and put-together while having some fun with the clothes that they choose, and exploring new hero colors as well.

This can look like a relaxed knit blazer as a top layer or a stretch pique polo or long-sleeve jersey shirt with a fun pattern. Color categories are being described for the mood they set, like “sunset tones,” “refined classics” and “restorative color” to match the needs of the wearer. Think of the hero style as being a kind of refreshed familiarity in the clothes we wear in 2024.

The Power Of the Future

The Power of the Future

Krispy Kreme’s “SADvert” billboard looks like the future to me, both in the way it acknowledges the struggles of the people it’s aimed at and offers a uniquely technological solution. Not bad for a business best known for their sugary donuts.

As Millennials, Gen Z, Gen Alpha and all the “in-between” generations grow their influence in 2024, this is what the future will look like – emphasizing sustainability, inclusion and empathy, the things that connect us in common experiences, and expecting technology to help bring us together. You may be thinking of smartphones and social media (and you’re not wrong!), but the tech that goes into clothing we wear is a part of that picture too.

Apparel that enables healthy, active lifestyles is going to be a priority for our future, so tees and even sweatpants fit in nicely here. At the same time, clothing made from recycled or carbon-neutral fabrics are key climate considerations for any forward-looking customer.

What’s trending in 2024 is connections, and we’ve only scratched the surface of what that’s going to mean in the new year. I can’t wait to dig even deeper on how you can connect the dots between your customers’ ideas and creative product offerings that make them into a reality.

Until then, I hope you have a fantastic new year and I’ll see you again in 2024!