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Weed, Gender Fluidity, and African Prints: CultureLab Trendspotting at Afro Punk Fest 2014 by Kevin L. Walker

October 11, 2014

Afro-Punk Fest 2014 was a big effing deal but for those of us who operate in the trends/cultural intelligence space, it was a BONANZA. In one place, in one moment all of the hip Black kids gathered at the same time resulting in a real time fashion show, lifestyle show, and alternative music orgy. 

There were three very distinctive trends I noticed:

Gender Fluidity

 Last year, when I consulted for trends consultancy, Sparks & Honey, we discussed an emerging thing pegged Third Gender. At Afro-Punk that notion of third gender was on full display. Boys in dresses, women sagging, showing off their boxers, straight boys in skirts, etc. It was a sight to see, but among this new generation, traditional notions of gender and sexuality can be fluid and the fluidity is part of their self expression. I am going to call it a glam rock redux.

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Weed

 In this year’s CultureLab trends to watch report, Cannabis culture was acknowledged and at Afro Punk Fest, weed was everywhere. Women, Men, it didn’t matter people were smoking their weed. As a matter of fact, when I think about Afro Punk Festival I still smell the weed. It is still illegal in New York but no one seemed to be too concerned about the law, as they sparked all over the park. Normalization of cannabis use is growing and for the festival participants it was THE drug of choice. I don’t think there were any reports of Ecstasy overdoses, LSD freakouts, or people passed out from over indulgence in alcohol usage but weed perpetually filled the air. Maybe that is why there was such a peaceful vibe at Afro Punk Fest 2014.

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 African Prints

Someone put the memo out right before Afro Punk Fest 2014 that this year was the year of African prints. When you think about it, this has been the year of Africa. Africa has arrived and so have the majesty of African prints. Dashikis, skirts, and dresses were regally on display and it was a beautiful thing to see. So if I had to put my money on what the major European fashion houses will focus on for Spring 2015, I will bet on a plethora of African print inspired designs on the runways of Paris, New York and Milan.

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The advent of Big Data has resurrected the fantasy of a social physics, promising a new data-driven technique for ratifying social facts with sheer algorithmic processing power.

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