IBM has some kind of new analysis tool and they studied all the online ‘chatter’ and all the online ‘buzz’ the kids are creating, and came back with this conclusion: Steampunk will be the next major fashion trend of 2013 and beyond.
Unfortunately, there are a few things wrong with this conclusion.
1. Steampunk has already peaked. It was talked about in media (major and indie) around 2009-2010, made some inroads (Target sells Steampunk Halloween costumes) and has since died out in terms of any kind of mass exposure or interest.
2. Steampunk is an established subculture, and will likely stay that way. IBM found that most of the chatter came from those under 30, and on gaming sites. How would this then predict mass infiltration? If anything it shows that a large but very specific subset of people – gamers, fantasy fans, comic con attendeeds, etc. – are into this shit. These are not people who want mainstream exposure, and the mainstream is not dying to dress like a Victorian robot. Note: There are also thousands and thousands of people who think they are pirates. Or go to Renaissance Fairs. Or Burning Man..
3. IBM doesn’t understand young people, fashion or trends. Data analysis and technology cannot (and will not) ever accurately predict behavior, style or trends in fashion, art, music, etc. Just because people are talking about something, and are talking MORE about something than they did the year before, doesn’t mean that it’s a trend, and that even more people will follow suit. If anything, it means the trend is already on its way out. Trends may spread online, but they are born in the real world, by real people, who embody them in their real lives. Not their online lives. Not their avatars or personas. I don’t think IBM gets this.
By the way, their next prediction? Furries in 2015.
Link to their study HERE.