From witches to platonic dating and a new kind of veganism - welcome to 2017

The last 12 months was all about fake news, political change and selfies, but what can we expect from 2017? The forecasting company JWT Intelligence has been busy predicting the biggest trends and its report makes for some interesting reading. Veganism, unisex beauty products and paganism will all come into their own in the next 12 months. Oh and good news for those who have spent the holiday overindulging, next year plus-size fashion will go mainstream.

New Orleans is set to come into its own in 2017.

Polar travel: Holidays go Arctic

Adventure is what people want from their holiday and it doesn’t come mych more wild than the North Pole. Previously off-limits to all but the most hardy explorer, Crystal Serenity recently became the first large scale cruise liner to traverse the Northwest Passage from Alaska to the Atlantic. In the remote Norwegian territory of Svalbard, revenue from tourism is outstripping revenue from coal mining, previously the regions’ main industry. As summer ice in the Arctic hits historic lows, not only are more ships expected to arrive, but demand is also set to increase with tourists eager to see the region before climate change also it forever.

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Witches: Paganism becomes the new religion

Looking adventure then head to the North Pole.

Centuries after witches were burned at the stake, the Wicca movement once again looks set to become a symbol of female empowerment. It was back in 2013 that figures showed paganism was the fastest growing religion in America and this year it could come into its own. Television series like Salem and American Horror Story: Coven are already attracting a huge following and look set to do for witchcraft what Twilight did for vampires a few years back. And if you want further proof, head to Instagram, self-proclaimed “modern mystic” the Hoodwitch shares her meme-culture inspired brand of sorcery with her followers, who numbered over 108,000 at the last count.

Baby tech: Designers find niche market is child’s play

Smarter monitoring devices, technology to assist with conception and even a baby food maker that looks more like a designer coffee machine, there is now pretty much a gadget for everything related to bringing up baby.

“The growth in the Internet of Baby Things is taking the world by storms,” says Jill Gilber, producer of the BabyTech Summit, which was set up to identify new trends. “Technology is enablish things that parents of yesterday could have only dreamed of. Every challenge is being tackled.”

Emil + Aris' new Smart Coat collection looks set to be the future of clothing.

Including it seems getting your little one to sleep with the launch of the smart crib called Snoo which monitors sleep patterns and promises to rock agitated babies gently back to the land of nod.

New Orleans: Hospitality from the Big Easy

A decade after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, New Orleans is finally emerging from the shadow of the disaster. Last year it had the biggest growth rate for international travellers of any US city and next spring, British Airways will add nonstop flights from London to New Orleans. Add to that the opening of the Ace Hotel which has turned an Art Deco building in the Latin Quarter into a hp high rise with a rooftop pool and its own music venue and planst to open a dedicated tourism bureau in China and visitor numbers are set to rocket further.

All the single ladies: Bridget Jones is the norm

Television shows like Salem look set to do for witches what Twilight did for Vampires.

Over the last few decades the number of women deciding not to marry or move in with a partner has risen dramatically. In the UK, research by the Office of National statistics showed that the number of women aged between 18 and 49 who described themselves as single rose had risen from 18 to 36 per cent compared to the previous decade.

“The Age of the Single Lady stands to shift how marketers think about women overall. I think, ultimately, it’s about acknowledging that women are motivated by all kinds of things, including romance, sex, work, a desire for travel, and familial comfort,” says Rebecca Traister, author of 2016’s All the Single Ladies, Innovation Group. “It’s about acknowledging women as full human consumers.”

Generation X: Return of the slackers

For a while it seemed that Generation X had been consigned to history, overshadowed by Millenials, Baby Boomers and Generation X. However, now aged between 35 and 55, the so-called slackers will once again become a target market for leading brands.

Single women are on the rise a la Bridget Jones.

“We are in a position where we are influencing our elders, specifically our parents, when it comes to getting them online and helping them to navigate this new fast culture,” says Tiffanie Darke, author of the forthcoming book Now We Are 40. “And of course we are bringing up the Generation Z as well. As a group we are profoundly important for brands to talk to.”

Ayurvedic eating: Putting India on the menu

“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use; when diet is correct, medicine is of no need,” says an ancient Ayurvedic proverb that may help explain why this diet is catching on among today’s health-conscious concumers. Ayurvedic eating is an ancient Indian medical practice that uses natural incredients such as ginger to promote balance and happiness. This autum the first Ayurvedic restaurant opened in New York and if the explosion in the popularity of tumeric is any indication there’s sure to be more to follow. Ranked as one of the year’s top food trends b Goodle is anti-inflammatory properties are supposed to be good at fighting disease.

Big screen diversity: Hollywood embraces colour

It’s no secret that Hollywood has a diversity problem. However, the latest releases suggest the industry may finally be taking steps to address its shortcomings. The last 12 months have brought critical acclaim for Fences starring Denzel Washington and Birth of the Nation, the story of the Nat Turner rebellion smashed Sundance records when it was bought by Fox Searchlight for £17.5m. There was also a female led Ghostbuster and in 2017 we will also have Wonder Woman lending a little feminine weight to the superhero blockbuster.

“If you try to be diverse for the sake of being diverse, it’s going to fail,” says Jeff Shell, chairman of Universal, the studio behind rap biopic Straight Outta Compton. “The real reason to do it is that it’s good business. Our audience is diverse.”

Looking adventure then head to the North Pole.

Wifi disruptors: Screen breaks are enforced

In 2015, pasta sauce brand Dolmio surveyed Australian household and found that more than a third felt they had no way to limit use of technology during family dinners. In response, the company proposed the Pepper Hacker, a pepper grinder with a disguised wifi blocker. After was Dolmio called “unprecendented feedback”, the grinder went on sale this year and Google Wifi also now offers a family pause switch that suspends wifi access at dinner or bedtime. Despite the push for a seamless and constant internet connection, it seems now that more and more of us also want some enforced down time.

Brexterity: Leaving has never been harder

Thought you could draw a line under the political events of 2016 come the New Year. Think again - 2017 will be a year definite by Brexterity. Remember how Toblerone began shrinking the size of its famous triangular chocolate bars to cover lost revenue caused by higher prices of imported chocolate. Well, expect more of the same in the next 12 months. Microsoft has already announced a similar plan to “harmonise prices” with the EU. The likely implication is that our buying power will decline next year and onwards, especially as talk of a “hard Brexit” continues to spook traders.

Plus-size fashion: Big enters the mainstream

once on the fringes of fashion, plus size fashion looks set to come to the fore as consumers seek sophisticated clothing and fashion images which reflect reality. The average women’s clothing size in the UK is now 14 and 16 in the United States and sales of women’s plus-size clothing grew by 17% between 2013 and 2016. Many leading high street brands, however, have been missing out on a huge market, tailoring their imagery and advertising to a constructed ideal instead of reality. In an age of user-generated content, portraying women as they are goes a long way toward convincing them your brand is on their side.

Unisex beauty products: Gender neutral looks good

The all-gender skincare and cosmeticcollection Context launched in 2015, as did Make’s unisex skincare line Naxos and overall beauty branding and packaging is set to become less overtly feminine.

New York socialites Harry and Peter Brant recently released a unisex makeup collection for MAC. “Most makeup is packaged for women, which is why men feel embarrassed about owning it. There’s no difference between makeup for men or women—it’s all packaging,” Peter Brant told Allure. It’s already available in the UK and while the market for men’s makeup is likely to remain small, the widespread appeal of male makeup-wearing personalities on social media suggests that all consumers, including women, are hungry for change.

Platonic dating: Friends come to the fore

Dating apps are pushing their own boundaries, betting that a generation of users who grew up building friendships online is interested in swiping for more than just dates. In July, Tinder added a Social mode, which allows groups of users to team up for a night out.

A handful of other apps have sprung up exclusively for friend-swiping. Squad is for groups of friends to meet, while Vina uses platonic connections to empower women (and was also the beneficiary of a recent investment by Tinder). Patook, the newest entry, uses an AI-based algorithm to suggest potential platonic matches.

New veganism: Soy out, natural alternatives in

Amid a wave of interest in natural ingredients and transparency from food companies, even vegan cuisine is evolving beyond soy products to more natural and unprocessed alternatives.

Jackfruit, a spiny-shelled Asian fruit that’s closely related to the fig, hasbeen popping up on menus and the natural alternatives don’t stop there. Try coconut jerky, cauliflower nuggets, or any of the nut milks currently sweeping the country. As even vegan foodies seek more natural, unprocessed options, “plant butchers” will finally have the chance to shine.

On demand spa: Relaxation at the push of a button

First Uber and Amazon Prime, now, on-demand services are set to revolutionise the beauty industry. Soothe, an on-demand massage service which was already operating in 22 cities across the US, recently launched in London and expect the move north soon. The service allows consumers to order massages from a network of professionals and have them come to their home as quickly as a takeaway. The company recently achieved an investment of $35m which will further its expansion and its success looks to be the sign of things to come.

Smart kitchens: Robots take over dinnertime

Moley has created the world’s first robotic kitchen, which is set to launch early next year and claims to include an “iTunes-style library of recipes.” The smart appliances market is forecast to grow by 15.4 per cent between 2015 and 2020 and most of the leading electrical companies are keen to exploit this new gap in the market. Samsung has also just launched a collection of smart kitchen appliances, including wall ovens and cookers, adding to its SmartThings Hub portfolio. Earlier this year, the brand launched its Family Hub refrigerator, which is integrated with a touchscreen service called Groceries by MasterCard, allowing users to shop for food directly from the fridge.

Fitness festivals: Personal trainers the new rock stars

In August, Nike held a three-day immersive fitness event in London with all the trappings of a music festival. As part of the brand’s Unlimited You Olympics promotions, Nike guests could participate in high-intensity workouts from celebrity fitness gurus against a background of flashing lights and video installations and a custom soundtrack from electronic duo Hot Chip. Events like the Wanderlust festivals, which place yoga and music side by side, or Croatia’s Obonjan festival, a month-long wellbeing retreat that opened in August have laid the groundwork for combining fitness and fun. Nike’s Olympic-sized spectacle shows there is plenty of room for fitness brands to get creative.

Smart clothing: Personal trainers the new rock stars

In 2016, a wave of new seamlessly “smart” clothing hinted that the long-promised wearable technology revolution might be closer to functional integration in our everyday garments. In March, Emil + Aris launched the Smart Coat, a collection of sleek, batterypowered coats that heat themselves to adapt to changing weather. Starting from £1,195 they are not cheap, but as we become accustomed to “smart” health-tracking accessories, the next wave of wearable clothing will be expected to provide real benefits without sacrificing style.

Emil + Aris' new Smart Coat collection looks set to be the future of clothing.
Television shows like Salem look set to do for witches what Twilight did for Vampires.
Single women are on the rise a la Bridget Jones.