Trends are something I wouldn’t say I’m great at predicting.
Years ago, when I was passing the Empire State Building, two tourists asked me if I’d take their picture. “Sure,” I said. They proceeded to hand me a phone.
“What the heck?” said I.
“Oh, you can take pictures with a phone now,” they told me.
Turns out they were shills for a tech company — Sony, maybe, or Samsung — and their job was to introduce the public to the idea that phones could double as cameras, and wasn’t that cool?
I proceeded to write a column: “Just what we need, camera phones. Why not a bra that’s also a toaster? Shoes that dispense glue? How about a hat that can drive?”
So maybe I’m not always ahead of the curve, but I’ve been reading up on other trends recently, and these things are truly on their way … I think.
Running in the dark: Not running at night, when at least there’s a moon, but running on a track in pitch blackness. I don’t quite get how people survive this “sport,” much less why they want to do it in the first place. But the Japanese footwear company Asics has debuted a “blackout track” that ostensibly helps people concentrate — sorry, no, it helps them “be more mindful” as they say today. And I’d be pretty mindful, too, if I was worried that my next step could slam me smack into the idiot in front of me who is stupid enough to be jogging in the dark.
Male makeup: Men in China are supposedly getting into cosmetics. Sales of guy goop are rising by double digits, according to Jing Daily, a Chinese report on luxury goods that quotes one 22-year-old who said he dabs on concealer and some “brightening products” every day — but would never tell his dad about his habit. China owes the popularity of this trend in part to celebrity men willing to be the face of the new face, including the singer-actor Luhan, who is considered the Chinese Justin Bieber. The slang for attractive young men with cosmetically flawless skin is “little fresh meat” — which is almost as easy on the ears as the guys apparently are on the eyes, don’t you think?
Mayonnaise ice cream: I’m not sure if this is a real trend, or just something so gross that everyone is talking about it. Either way, mushy, smushy Hellmann’s ice cream is the creation of Ice, a Scottish creamery with a somewhat unfortunate name that bills itself as an “artisanal” shop. (Speaking of trends, is there anything that hasn’t been artisanal-ized yet?) Anyway, Ice’s owner said the mayo-cream is a “full on hit of fat, followed with an eggy, milky aftertaste.” Hard to resist with a description like that, right? But here we are, talking about it, so I digress.
Hearing aids that are also not hearing aids: These sound (ha!) great. The tech company Ericsson predicts we might end up wearing earphones qua aids all day long, in part to listen to our devices, but also to be picky about what else we hear. Future, programmable earphones might allow us to only hear Person X in a room, and no other voices. Or they might let us muffle the sounds of our spouse’s snoring. And there’s always the hope that they will simultaneously translate for us, which would be amazing.
Except if the foreigner is saying, “Where iz zee mayonnaise ice cream?”
Pokémon meets Hilfiger: Designer Tommy Hilfiger’s new Xplore jeans come with so-called smart chips embedded in them. Somehow between the chips and an app on your phone, you can rack up points just by wearing your Xplore duds to certain places the brand is presumably partnering with. It’s like Pokémon Go, but you’re the Pokémon. (Or the app. Or the sap.) And as you get rewards, Tommy gets the reward of “figer-ing” out where you are, and how often you wear his clothes.
Edible coffee cups: We’re talking cup-shaped “Cupffee” wafers that withstand heat and liquid, and still taste good when you’re done sipping. This idea is so obvious, I am kicking myself. (Or maybe that’s the guy jogging beside me in the dark.)
Fun laundromats: This one’s local! The super-hip Celsious laundromat in — where else? — Williamsburg features tables, chairs, a coffee bar, and even a free cup of organic detergent (not to be mistaken for the coffee). Why we have been subjected to otherwise dreary, soul-sapping laundromats for so long is a great question.
Why we need a camera in a phone is not.
Lenore Skenazy is the president of Let Grow, and the founder of Free-Range Kids.