The Iridescent Trend
3 Ways It Reflects Industry Change 7/30/2019 | Taylor Borst , Taylor's Take
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Iridescence is the phenomenon in which a surface appears to change color depending on the angle of the viewer. Basically, it’s the metallic family’s whimsical cousin. Also referred to as “holographic”, “hypnotic”, “unicorn” or “mermaid”, promotional products with this futuristic aesthetic can be found in a variety of color combinations, most often ranging in blues, greens, purples, pinks, and silvers. The popular look has taken off in several categories such as drinkware, bags, umbrellas, straws, sunglasses, journals and more. 

According to Tessa Trumble with Evans Manufacturing, their Hypnotic Cascade Bottle is currently Evans’ most-searched item in ESP. Other suppliers like Webb Company, Peerless Umbrella, and Hit are also embracing the look. 

“We’re seeing increasing popularity because it’s not only eye-catching, but also an exciting updated material that incorporates retail and runway trends into everyday items,” explains Delaney Ward, Product Development Manager at Hit Promotional. “This has ultimately stemmed from designer brands and retailers creating new ways to wear and incorporate this trend.” 

Ward is also confident of the trend’s consistency and relevancy moving forward throughout the winter and holiday months since it provides a snowy, icy look.
It’s likely that when you think of this trend, the end buyer or recipients in mind are young girls or women…customers like cosmetic companies, yoga retreats or youth cheer or dance teams. However, with the right opportunity, message and audience, iridescence can also be a standout for tech conferences, resorts, music festivals, museums, aquariums, and planetariums. Paired with a relevant logo or message that centers around the idea of exploration, dreaming big, creativity or the future, it can create a memorable, emotional response. 

Iridescence is more than just a trend – its popularity is indicative of three major changes happening in our industry: 

Closing the Retail Gap

The promotional products industry is embracing retail trends and closing the lag time between what goes to market in retail and when we adopt in promo. The consumer is pushing our industry and other players in our space (Amazon and independent online retailers) to move more quickly than ever before. We can’t wait a year or two to capitalize on retail trends. This proves we’re taking positive steps toward more aggressive operational, technology and go-to-market strategies.  

Increasing Creative Freedom

The end-buyer is getting more playful and has the freedom to redefine their brand. While black is and will likely always be representative of a polished, classic look, consumers are searching for new ways to stand out and create an emotional response. Consider the athleisure movement. In many workplaces where pantyhose was once required, leggings and hoodies reign supreme. The trend was perhaps less of a cause-and-effect, but more of a symbiotic relationship – our wardrobe norms had to change because our culture is changing and vice versa. In many situations, the iridescent aesthetic gives us permission to break away from tradition. 

Growing Cross-Generational Influence 

Due to changes in technology, social media, and inclusivity, we are far more progressive and connected than ever before. What was once classified as “youth culture” now flows into all age groups. I recently attended a presentation given by Vicki Ostrom, futurist and trend editor at SanMar, in which she positioned that there are now five generations in the workforce – Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X, Baby Boomer, Super Boomer – and more diverse than ever (gender, race, background, etc.). The bottom line is that consumers are no longer stuck within the confines of their own generational bubble. They are inspired and influenced by a much broader and more diverse group that can impact their take on trends, taste, and opinion. 

While the iridescent aesthetic is not the answer for every customer in every situation, it can provide an unexpected pop of interest for the right project. This trend lives on a spectrum that jumps from playful to futuristic to eclectic – and everything in between. Our power as marketers and branding experts lies in our ability to understand what’s happening in the market so that we can provide our customers with the best possible solutions. By recognizing relevant trends and their relationship to changes affecting the retail gap, creative freedom, and generational influence, we position ourselves for enduring success.

Taylor Borst is head of communications and public relations for American Solutions for Business. Joining the print and promo industry in 2015, she specializes in social media, promotional products, and supplier relations. Taylor is currently a Sous Chef with PromoKitchen, on the Networking Committee for PPAI SPARK and is an advocate for education and youth involvement in the industry. Connect with her on Instagram and LinkedIn

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