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The new year is right around the corner, and you know what that means--yes, it's a brand-new batch of best-of themes for product developers and licensing opportunists:
What tree-hugging, eucalyptus-eating marsupial is expected to garner the most attention in the new year? That's right: it's the koala. You'll see his cute mug on everything as the 2000 Olympics comes to his native land.
A continuing thirst for tranquility and peace means an aquatic theme will dominate next year's palette, its bluish-green hues granting calming atmospheres to tension-heavy hearts and minds.
We hope you're not oversaturated with the glut of teen-focused entertainment that hit theaters and TV sets this past year, because the networks have debuted a slew of youth-filled shows, like Fox's Get Real, NBC's Freaks and Geeks, and WB's Popular and Roswell, this season. One thing's for sure: It's more entertaining to watch "the awkward years" than to live through them.
SCENT: Mood Enhancers
The use of aromas to answer everyday needs will take "scent"-er stage next year--jasmine for wakefulness or green apple for stress reduction, just to name a couple. Such mood-enhancing concoctions will eventually be found at check-out counters everywhere.
Embroidered pillows, ribboned fabrics, patterned silks, fringed scarves and saris--all using a luxurious mix of Indian-derived textures, colors and intricate designs--will transform boring homes into exotic palaces, simultaneously creating auras of warmth and infectious spirituality.
FOOD: Fusion Dishes
Continued splicing of cultural flavors shows no sign of slowing. Fusion dishes, which allow ethnic cuisines like Latin and Asian to coexist on one exciting plate, will increase in availability and popularity. With such cultural stimulation at our fingertips, it's amazing Americans still hold french fries as their favorite food item.
Accompanying the trend toward spicy flavors is an affinity for sweetness. Many once-bland items are taking on sweeter attitudes. Such beverages as syrupy lattes and chai tea are raging favorites in the coffeehouse world, so kiss bitter good-bye and get ready for more sugary concoctions.
Look for a swarm of motorized scooters called Go-Peds to zip their way into the limelight. Whether used in competitions or simply as a fun way to get to the grocery store, the lightweight racers, which were introduced more than 12 years ago, are generating a buzz.
Equally hot are those '90s favorites called X sports (extreme sports). According to the National Sporting Goods Association, the number of in-line skating participants rose to 27 million in 1998, up 188 percent from 1994, while the number playing roller hockey increased to 3.1 million.
Snowboarding grew to 3.6 million participants, up 102 percent over the same period. And 8.6 million people rode mountain bikes in 1998, a gain of 87 percent.
LICENSING AND MORE LICENSING:
- Expect the already intense interest in Asian-themed design to grow with Steven Spielberg's release of a film adaption of the bestselling novel Memoirs of a Geisha.
- Manga (Japanese comics) and anime (Japanese animation)--visually stimulating meshes of reality and fantasy--will see even more licensing opportunities in the new year.
- Gen Y-focused WhirlGirl, a 5-minute weekly Web-series found at http://www.sho.com, offers licensing activities to promote the sassy twentysomething superheroine, Kia Cross (a.k.a. WhirlGirl), and her sci-fi adventures.
By Laura Tiffany and Victoria Neal
SOCCER SCORES: Building on the excitement generated by our Women's World Cup superstars' triumph, soccer is destined to grow in participation and equipment sales, specifically among girls aged 12 to 17. According to the 1999 National Soccer Participation Survey, participation among girls in this age category rose 37 percent to 3 million from 2.2 million in 1997. Nationwide, 497 high schools added girls' soccer programs last year.
In 1995, the size of the U.S. market for soccer equipment at wholesale was an estimated $192.5 million. Today, according to the Soccer Industry Council of America, the wholesale market for soccer apparel, footwear and equipment is estimated at more than $1.1 billion and is expected to increase by 5 percent next year. For more information on soccer, visit http://www.us-soccer.com, http://www.sportlink.com, and http://www.womenssportsfoundation.org.
THE SKY'S THE LIMIT: Open-air malls are showing up in even the least likely places. Sure, you'd expect them in a state with balmy climates like sunny California, but would you expect to see them pop up in a state like Ohio? Well, that's exactly where such concepts are headed, with two malls slated to open by summer 2000 in Cincinnati. The overstimulation and chaos of a noise-reverberating, body-filled, artificially lit mall pales in shopping-bliss comparison to the spacious, naturally ventilated, socially provocative open-air promenade. And with the adornment of beautiful landscaping, umbrella-dotted patio seating, intriguing fountains and live music blissfully whisking shoppers from window to eye-candy-filled window, it's undoubtedly becoming the mall of choice.
COUCH POTATO ALERT: Drooling over the latest fashion find on Friends but pulling your hair out because you don't know where to buy it? No worries. Entertainment and e-commerce have finally negotiated a marriage contract pleasing to all. At AsSeenIn.com, customers can navigate their way through the households of the Camden family (7th Heaven) or the Halliwell sisters (Charmed), clicking on favorite items to find links to retailers. And with B3TV enabling e-commerce for TV commercials (viewers can use their remote to order items or information through Microsoft WebTV, Liberate TV Navigator and PowerTV SofaSurf), how long will it be before producers connect the dots and you can instantly order Frasier's cardigan from your easy chair? Shoppers, grab your remotes.
Because fashion is fickle, it's a good thing the trend toward body modification has found more temporary expressions. Adhesive body jewels provide a glitzy alternative to painful sterling piercings, and henna designs, temporary tattoo kits and stretchy wire necklaces, bracelets and anklets allow the ultra-hip to avoid daunting tattoo needles and their often-regretted-later permanence.
Even mainstream companies are in on the trend: Johnson & Johnson's Band-Aid brand and 3M's Nexcare bandages have made clear bandages with colorful designs to make your covered owies look like tattoos.
License Magazine, (212) 951-6600
Nada Associates Color Designer, http://www.colordesigner.com