Why 2016 is not about authenticity, it is about being real

2015 felt like it was the year of authenticity. Every brand and celebrity wanted to convince consumers how authentic they were. Because of this, authenticity actually lost its way and now, by January 2016, brands are ditching the tag altogether.

That doesn’t surprise me, in my research around consumer behaviour for an in depth report on WGSN called Top 10 – Key Ideas 2016– I have identified this shift. In fact in 2016 we’ll be moving on from authenticity and towards ‘being real’.

What does this mean you ask? It means doing away with the clichés, and presenting our lives, unfiltered. Because perfect isn’t quite right (and doesn’t ring true or resonate with anyone). As consumers move into living a life that feels very real, they will demand the same from the brands they shop, invest in and are associated with. As alluded to in our WGSN Future Trends report called Artisan, consumers are moving towards shopping homemade and artisan designs that come with a few flaws, meaning that each piece is a bit different. Independent brands such as Stone Island make jackets that are hand painted so that customers get a unique design each time.

This new movement is also emerging within the public eye and on social media too, among celebrities, bloggers and fashion personalities who are being encouraged to be more real, documenting the everyday in an authentic way.


There’s Deliciously Stella, the Instagram star who is a reaction to the Deliciously Ella lifestyle (which advocates spiralizers, green juices and yoga before breakfast). Deliciously Stella, by contrast has an Instagram feed full of chocolate bars and cakes to show that we shouldn’t be shamed for wanting to eat donuts.

Then there’s Socality Barbie, who proves just how ‘plastic’ social media has become. This tongue-in-cheek account sees Barbie doing everything everyone else does on Instagram: drinking frothy flat whites while reading Kinfolk, enjoying nature (via VSCO filter) and eating smashed avocado for brunch. She proves the paradox of authentic living and how cliched this whole aesthetic has become. While Oikos for example, has branded itself as the lifestyle magazine for realists.


In art, Thai-born Chompoo Baritone has gone behind the scenes of the Instagram posts we covet so much to reveal the reality.


What does this mean for 2016? Consumers want to engage with the upfront and honest truth only; nothing staged, it has to feel real.

Photo credits: Ria Roberts , Oikos Magazine and  Stone Island.

For the full report Top 10 – Key Ideas 2016, join WGSN.

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