“Trend” is a bit of a dirty word these days. Without proper context, fashion trends can feel like the worst part of the industry, promoting fast-fashion consumerism and the kind of ephemerality that perpetuates what one Highsnobiety writer laments as “the sorry state of fashion.”

That said, trends tell us a lot about what consumers want. Identifying trends is a useful way to sift through the design tricks that connect with the zeitgeist: the chunky sneaker trend, the ’90s revival, ironic “ugly” fashion, and so on.

We’ve examined trend forecasts in the past and now we’re living through them. We first clocked the “frozen yellow” wave (or “volt” for the Swoosh-inclined) in 2017, and it’s still going strong (check out favorite frozen yellow items here). More recently, we looked at Gen Z’s answer to millennial pink, “neo-mint,” which, while not due to hit properly until 2020, is already popping up in collections by Our Legacy, Diadora, Stone Island x Stüssy, and Prada.

So what comes next? Trend forecasters such as WGSN work 24 months ahead, with teams of experts combining social science and instinct to predict trends well before they hit stores. It’s like a crystal ball but for garms, and for 2021, it’s glowing blue — specifically, a post-internet shade of blue dubbed “A.I. Aqua.”

Here’s why “A.I. Aqua” will be popping off come 2021.

It’s the “color of the internet”

According to WGSN, “A recent survey of the tones used on the world’s biggest websites found blue easily outstripped others, and shades of blue used prominently in tech are set to become more immersive.” 

If trends are indicative of the world at any given moment, then a color palette connecting us even more to the digital world feels apt. “The hyped concepts around augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) that were out of reach for many will become readily available and closer to reaching their full potential,” says WGSN. “With a digital quality that is set to have key relevance in 2021, A.I. Aqua is our tech-inspired hero color to watch.”

Highsnobiety / Eva Al Desnudo

Blue is versatile

Blue is a strong choice because it’s so adaptable, whether worn formally, casually, on sportswear, or somewhere in between. The recent Nike “Tech Pack” demonstrated how activewear is leveling up to the kind of bold silver, orange, and lime green colorways you’d expect to see more on the Prada runway than in the gym.

Nike

“A.I. Aqua looks both sporty and trend-forward,” says WGSN, “making it perfect for designs that inhabit the blurred space between active and fashion.”  

While tech is forever changing the way we live, fashion is also expected to change dramatically over the coming years. Fashion shows are becoming increasingly co-ed and designers continue to push boundaries with elegant, futuristic designs. As WGSN notes, “As fashion seasons become more unpredictable and fashion styles cross-pollinate more rapidly, we expect this color will have major commercial appeal.”

Words by Max Grobe
Associate Fashion Editor
What To Read Next