A lot can happen in a year. Some of it good, some of it, well, you know… From craft whiskey to gravel biking to 5G-enabled smartphones, here are the products and trends our team expects to dominate the next 12 months.
Mechanical watches get cheaper
“We’re about to see a lot more variety when it comes to mechanical watch movements utilized by brands large and small. Following an antitrust ruling banning the Swatch Group from supplying ETA movements to its rivals this year, alternative movements from Selitta, STP and Seiko (whose column wheel-operated NE86 movement is an affordable alternative to the famed Valjoux 7750 produced by ETA) are going to come to the fore. While the Swatch Group certainly isn’t thrilled with this development, it means more competition and the proliferation of less expensive — though well-made — alternative movements. For the consumer, that’s a good thing.” — Oren Hartov, Associate Editor
Slim-tapered loosens up
“‘Hey, buddy, eyes up here,’ is going to be heard a lot this year. Except it’s not what you think, because 2020 is going to be the year of the statement pant. The funkier, the better; the more flared, the more far-out; mo’ prints, mo’ fun. Look no further for confirmation than Harry Styles wearing a pair of high-waisted, flared trousers (and, yes, this is also the year we call our bottoms trousers). In the zeitgeist, the Council of Fashion Designers of America named Emily Adams Bode as its emerging designer of the year award for her label Bode, which specializes in using deadstock one-of-a-kind fabrics to make statement menswear pieces, including a range of printed trousers with loose, breezy fits. And if this all comes full circle, and we return to our slim tapered days, at least you’ll know how to get your pants tailored properly.” — Tyler Chin, Editorial Associate, Editorial Operations
Hemp makes it to the mall, and your closet
“The cannabis industry is booming. In recent years, the legalization of recreational marijuana in numerous states has led to a veritable gold rush with new brands materializing overnight in almost every cannabis-tangential industry. While 2019 showed that CBD can be marketed and sold in things from coffee and tea to lotions and pills, 2020 is the year for another byproduct of the marijuana plant: hemp. We’ve seen a few specialized brands offer clothing made with hemp in previous years, but this year, the miracle fiber is going mainstream. Expect to see it in jeans, button-up shirts, sweats and more, all available at your local mall.” — John Zientek, Associate Editor
5G arrives in force (but you won’t need it)
“In 2019, the first super-fast 5G networks started to launch, with companies all over the world claiming to be first. In 2020, the hardware will start catching up. Samsung already has a few 5G phones; it even claim to have sold over 6 million units — chiefly in its home country of South Korea. But in 2020, rumor has it, 5G will arrive stateside with the first 5G-capable iPhones.
While 5G’s blistering speed is impressive — it’s proving to be at least ten times faster than 4G — it’s probably not something you’ll want or need quite yet. Bleeding-edge 5G phones are more expensive than their 4G counterparts, run extremely hot and chew through battery at a ridiculous rate, all while relying on network infrastructure that’s not yet widespread, offering speeds you’d be hard-pressed to use anyway. Expect to hear a lot of hype this year, and brace yourself not to fall for it.” — Eric Limer, Editor
Craft beer grows up, for better or worse
“By the end of the year, America will have more than 8,000 breweries. That’s almost double what it was just five years ago. This means more competition in an already dwindling slice of the beverage pie for beer (although craft beer is still outperforming the overall beer market). And as much as we don’t like to admit it, 2019 was the year of hard seltzer — and it’s not going anywhere.
“2020 will demand craft breweries adapt to this changing alcohol landscape: More breweries will add seltzer labels to their production to become beverage companies. Big brewery purchases of 2019 (Dogfish Head, New Belgium Brewing and Ballast Point) will spill over into 2020 — along with a notable closure or two. Taprooms and local communities will become increasingly important for breweries. Lastly, exciting and informative ways to educate drinkers will become crucial for breweries to keep their shares of the pie; people like Em Sauter are going to be prominent voices in craft beer to help educate non-beer nerd consumers to retain attention in beer.” — Ryan Brower, Project Coordinator, Editorial Operations
Sustainable packaging stops being optional
“From Amazon Prime boxes to plastic beer holders, packaging — you know, the stuff that contributes to more than 80 million tons of waste a year — corners us from all directions. And only half of it ever gets recycled. In the last few years, we’ve seen hints of change: cardboard beer sleeves that hold together six-packs, fiber-based plastics to store and ship iPhones (thanks for that one, Apple). REI, a leader in the space, has forgone individual poly bags for t-shirts and similar apparel by implementing a so-called “sushi-roll” packaging method — products are rolled up and secured with a twine-like piece of paper. In 2020, we’ll see even more elegant solutions in sustainable packaging. Hopefully, come December, we’ll no longer call it a trend but a standard.” — Jack Seemer, Deputy Editor
Phones get dumber … and better
“Most people just aren’t willing to shell out over $1,000 for a smartphone. Yes, each model boasts a good deal of improvements over the last — but they’re marginal at best. A slightly better camera. A slightly nicer display. A slightly longer battery life. And their primary purpose? To scroll endlessly on the social media platforms we’ve soured on. In 2020, we’re going to see more people using paired-down technology like the Light Phone II or Plunkt. We’ll also likely see bigger tech companies make entries into the product category. Apparently, Apple is working on the follow up to its iPhone SE. Fewer distractions for less money? It’s hard not to see that catching on.” — J.D. DiGiovanni, Associate Editor, Editorial Operations
Gravel moms are the new soccer moms
“In the 1880s, what we now think of as a bicycle was called a ‘safety bicycle’ because it was so much less dangerous than the high-wheeled penny-farthing. In 2020, gravel bikes may begin to overtake their road bike predecessors in a similar way. With city streets getting increasingly dangerous for cyclists, a pedal-pusher’s safest move may be to hit the dirt, and more and more of them are. Every state but Hawaii hosted a gravel event last year, a new gravel race in Northwest Arkansas sold out in five minutes, and even financial media noted the growing popularity of the sport. This year, we’ll see the industry continue to respond by launching awesome new bikes and accessories and even e-bikes in the gravel space, to the point where even your mom will think about getting one.” — Steve Mazzucchi, Editor
Streaming services empty your wallet
“Netflix would never be enough. We also have Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, as well as the newly launched Disney+ and Apple TV+. Oh, and then there’s your music — Spotify, Apple Music.
This year, HBO will launch HBO Max with a bunch of new shows, like the Game of Thrones prequel and some of your favorite oldies, like Friends and The Big Bang Theory. Discovery is going to have a service, too, with cool documentary series like Blue Planet. And then there’s NBCUniversal’s anticaptied Peacock, which will be the destination for sitcoms like The Office and Parks and Recreation.
By the end of this year, we’ll all be sinking way more into streaming services. And we’ll still be paying for cable because, frankly, it’s still not going to make enough sense to cut the cord.” — Tucker Bowe, Staff Writer
Craft whiskey gets serious (and tasty)
“Craft whiskey sucked. Largely because ‘craft’ means squat, but also because running a whiskey business on a small-scale that makes any money at all has, historically speaking, proved next to impossible. A distiller needs a huge amount of cash to get started — for barrels, stills, experienced staff, rickhouses, connections with distributors, bottling facilities, etc. — but cash alone is nothing. Time is the enemy. Nobody is clamoring for one-, two-, three- or four-year-old brown — what kind of startup can’t sell a respectable product four years into operation? Thankfully, we’re now enough years removed from the whiskey boom for those once-nascent distillers to have opened up shop, made their bets and put their own whiskey rest, mature, sell and, potentially, stand a fighting chance against the macro-whiskey titans. Watch brands like New Riff, Willet (their own stuff, not the sourced bottles), Old Elk, Westward and Balcones carve out more territory in liquor stores — and your bar cart.” — Will Price, Assistant Editor
You buy a used watch
“Buying a “certified pre-owned” watch is easier than ever. Outfits like WatchBox or Crown & Caliber have become established parts of the luxury watch landscape, and even traditional retailers like Bucherer are entering the game. While the demand for affordable watches has never been higher, people still want nice stuff, and services that “check” a pre-owned watch’s health and authenticity will help people buy more confidently.” — Zen Love, Staff Writer
And outdoor gear …
“Since thrift stores became an acceptable and even desirable place to purchase clothing, fashion industry pioneers have innovated new ways to dress us in worn threads. Now, the clothing racks are digital, and business is booming. In 2019, The RealReal became the first secondhand clothing company to trade publicly, and the consignment company ThredUp projects the market to hit $51 billion by 2023. Sustainability-minded outdoor gear companies have taken note; in the latter half of the 2010s, Patagonia, Arc’teryx and REI ranked among those to open web-based used gear shops. REI estimates that it sold nearly one million used items in 2019 alone, and its revenue from those sales was almost twice that of the previous year. With more people heading outside than ever, we can only expect these numbers to grow.” — Tanner Bowden, Staff Writer
And streetwear …
For style, streetwear obsessives will shift into buying less of-the-moment pieces as vintage continues to take more of the piece of the pie. The same reasons fans of streetwear fawn over exclusive drops and limited releases, will be the impetus for them to flock to vintage stores in search one-of-a-kind pieces. Before streetwear king Virgil Abloh made the prediction for the new decade, the demand for vintage has soared for years making up $11 billion of sales in 2012 jumping to $24 billion in 2018. It’s also expected to double again by 2023. In 2020, we’ll see the continued shift toward secondhand take a more noticeable toll on the streetwear industry and by extension, trends overall. — Gerald Ortiz, Staff Writer
Collabs get weird. Like real weird.
In 2020 we’ll see more collaborations by entities that don’t really belong together. Take, for example, the Stranger Things x MLB collab: Why would I want an MLB logo on my Stranger Things hat, or a Stranger Things logo on my MLB hat? These franchises are not even tangentially related, and the product of such a collaboration is a confusing one that nobody asked for. Nonetheless, we’ll be seeing more of it this year as companies try to cash in, imitating brands doing collaborations that actually make sense. Like Patagonia and Danner. — Scott Ulrich, Editorial Associate, Editorial Operations
Normal people drive electric cars
“Luxury manufacturers such as Porsche, Jaguar, and Audi have already gotten in on the EV game. Startups Rivian and Bollinger Motors have high-end electric trucks ready for production. But established affordable manufacturers like Ford and Volkswagen launching affordable EV crossovers could be game-changing, not to mention the Mini EV potentially starting below $20,000 in some states. You may not go electric in 2020. But 2020 will be the year you start seeing your otherwise normal friends, neighbors and relatives do so. Not just that one guy down the street who is way too eager to talk about his Tesla.” — Tyler Duffy, Staff Writer
Wellness gets (even more) personalized
“For years, personal trainers have been an easy way to customize your weight loss or muscle gain journey, and now it’s looking like that’s expanding across all aspects of wellness. 2019 brought us customizable vitamins, protein powders, and boutique doctors’ offices that are made to suit your needs, like Parsley Health and The Well. Workout gear from Mirror and Tonal also brought the personal trainer home via a machine. Wellness has to be customizable for it to really work for you (think about sleep and nutrition), so it makes sense that we’re seeing that rise. In 2020, we’ll see even more offerings for at-home personal training, likely in big-name brand apps, as well as in the gear that goes along with it.” — Meg Lappe, Editorial Coordinator
Self-driving cars park on the back burner
“The last decade was dominated by a narrative that cars and trucks would, one day, be capable of driving themselves anytime, anywhere. The tweens of the Twenty-Teens would never even need drivers’ licenses, people predicted, because ever-present fleets of robo-rides will be around to take them anywhere for less money than owning a car. Tesla owners would be able to rent out their Model 3s as self-driving taxis when not in use, enabling them to make passive income. Hell, Uber even built an entire business model around the idea that they simply needed to subsidize the cost of paying human drivers until self-driving cars could replace them.
“Expect to see more of companies tamping down expectations in 2020. The combined brainpower and billions of Silicon Valley, Detroit, Germany and Japan have yet to come close to cracking the secret sauce of a true self-driving car; the best results so far to see widespread adoption are little more than souped-up cruise control. And while the research will go on — there’s just too much money to be made someday for whoever gets it right — the next year of self-driving car news will be more about making human-driven cars safer through better advanced driver-assistance systems than giving us rides we can nap in on our way home.” — Will Sabel Courtney, Editor