2021 will be virtually the same as 2020 — here's a peek at the trends to expect

NO ONE could ever have predicted the horrors of the past year.

But as we stagger into 2021, we can at least look forward to a host of new trends, from virtual happy hours, travel and, er, foreplay, to mullets, DIY pampering and digital fashion filters.

Kathryn Bishop, foresight editor at business forecast consultants The Future Laboratory, already knows what we will be eating, drinking and doing.

She says: “Trends tap into something raw and human. The pandemic will prepare us for a life that’s lived digitally, but also a new appreciation for the small things that are taking place in real life.”

Kathryn tells Judy Cogan what will be big in the year ahead . . . 


THE VIRTUAL HAPPY HOUR: We are fed up with Zoom, but virtual happy hours will be a thing. Instead of going to your local on a Friday you will get wine or beer delivered to your home then meet mates over the net.

British brewery Signature Brew’s Pub In A Box includes canned beers, glasses, bar snacks and a Spotify playlist. The Open Arms is an online bar from Scotland’s BrewDog.

We will embrace wine tastings and cocktail hour in a virtual realm. Cheers!

TIKTOK TREATS: A new menu featuring viral foods such as pancake cereal, cloud bread and whipped coffee will be huge.

TikTok and food delivery platform Postmates are working with a series of Los Angeles restaurants to make trending foods available for home drop-offs – and the system is UK-bound.

VIRTUAL RESTAURANTS: Eateries are creating Zoom and Snapchat backdrops so people can meet mates from home and imagine they are all together in their favourite chicken shop or pizza place.

Food delivery platform DoorDash spon-sored a set of Snapchat filters allowing at-home diners to snap themselves in virtual versions of popular restaurant chains.

Fresh, Hot, Delicious is a completely virtual, Instagram-based restaurant specialising in digital desserts that “sell out” when a certain number of views is reached.

MEAL KITS: Think sensory experiences and a focus on travel here. You might get a meal kit delivered that comes with a playlist or tableware to match your dining experience.

Ikea has done a fun take on this. You pick a country and it will send you a box of home decor pieces associated with that location. We might see an EasyJet Greece meal kit with a big fat Greek salad and a playlist to make us feel we are on the island of Kos.

ADULT FIZZY DRINKS: Complex-flavoured soft drinks, or grown-up pop, is a trend.

Leading the way is Something & Nothing, whose varieties – Yuzu, Cucumber, Rose and Hibiscus – contain only 51 calories per can, satisfying the 61 per cent of us who say they would like to see a greater range of soft drinks aimed at adults.


THE MULLET: Business up front and party at the back, the classic Eighties mullet hairstyle has lurched back to life like a serial killer at the end of a horror film.

Pop stars Miley Cyrus and Rihanna are already on to it, but it is a trend for 2021 for both men and women. Key to the updated look is curls and colour.

DIY TREATMENTS: The home experience will be huge as people begin to realise they can achieve the same spa therapy treats in the comfort of their home.

From DIY face masks and hair-dying to home peels and microneedling will take place at home as people avoid travel and exposure outdoors.

EXERTAINMENT: Say a big hello to the exercise party, everyone.
Expect a rise in what we are calling exertainment – a cross between fit-ness exercises and entertainment.

Platforms such as Obé allow you to have a fitness party with your friends and hang out after the virtual class so you replicate the experience you would normally have with gym buddies in real life.

RUNNING STORY: Right now we run and listen to music. But running is about to become augmented.

Take, for example, new app Running Stories. It understands where you are heading and will create a story.

Choose a murder-mystery theme and your route will turn into part of the story’s plot. It is immersive and will make exercise a lot more entertaining.

ASSISTED STRETCHING: Not to be mistaken for yoga. This is an example of a regenerative physical therapy that is taking off, according to Jessica Redman, a personal trainer and founder of the app Work That.

Assisted stretching has gained huge numbers of followers in the USA and has now come here with huge response.

Good Stretch is London’s first Stretching and Splits studio and offers live stretching classes.


IMAGINATION TRAVEL: It could be 2023 by the time international air travel returns to normal. For now, we will just have to use our imagination.

Travel company Trippin is immersing its community in the tastes, sounds and sights of foreign culture.

Alongside live cooking shows, it offers podcast insights into life as a ballroom historian in New York or a disco-funk DJ in Melbourne, Australia.


ISOLATED INTIMACY/WHEEL OF FORE-PLAY: New apps, toys and digital platforms will allow people intense sexual awaken-ings at home, alone or with their partners.

Exploring our sexual desires from a well-ness perspective is no longer taboo – helped by singer Lily Allen who launched a “life-changing” sex toy with Womanizer.

The Wheel Of Foreplay is a light-hearted virtual game that lets users choose from categories such as Going Solo and Long-distance Dating’.

SINGLE ROOM: A Tokyo-based hotel has launched short-term rentals for people who want time away from their partner. Available for £31.95 a day, a free 30-minute divorce consultation is also available.


DIY FASHION: Everyone wants to learn something new so the DIY fashion trend is really going to build, with people customising clothes at home and creating garments from scratch.

It is inspired by singer Harry Styles, after a JW Anderson cardigan he wore went viral and became a huge hit on TikTok, with everyone crocheting their own versions.

British designer Christopher Raeburn, who uses scrap fabrics in his designs, has released DIY bucket-hat kits to buy on DePop. Liam Gallagher, as you were.

IN-GAME FASHION: The synergy between fashion and gaming is swelling. Designers and high street brands are producing clothes to wear in-game and in real life.

Drest is an online game that rewards users for completing style challenges and creating looks bought with an in-game currency.

Women mobile gamers are 79 per cent more likely to make an in-app fashion purchase.

FASHION FILTERS: We will be getting excited about dressing our virtual selves next year. Creating fresh, cool digital looks on Instagram is easy now you can buy fashion filters to have a virtual garment over-layed on your own picture.

You get a new piece of fashion for a fraction of the price and it is a little bit greener.

GET SHORTIE: Bold Bermuda shorts will be massive for men, come summer 2021, according to GQ mag.


MUNDANE GAMES: 2021 will see a shift towards stripped-back games that are pretty boring. It is all about doing quite mindless things to chill out.

The Sims 4’s Tiny Living Stuff Pack encourages gamers to create an urban farm, for example.

Demo game PowerWash Simulator lets players take satisfaction from virtually jet-washing a dirty house to a soundtrack of ambient, relaxing sounds.

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