Some of WGSN’s radical trends for 2022

The firm paints a picture of brands dabbling with waterless washing, crypto loyalty, fermenting ingredients and smart textiles.

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By Will Novosedlik

As you might imagine, strategy receives a lot of trend reports. Many of them tend to be incremental extensions of the trends they identified in previous years. One firm that seems to avoid that is WGSN. The company has become known to speculate on radical trends, rather than easily discernible patterns that anyone can glean from a quick hop around the internet.

For the interest of marketers and product innovators, we’ve gathered some of WGSN’s intriguing signals of change for 2022. Note how many of these ideas are a pragmatic response to impending social and environmental catastrophe. In their sometimes Swiftian imagining of marketing’s future, these guys aren’t afraid to peer over the precipice toward which the world is hurtling.


When in drought: One in 10 people worldwide is unable to access clean water, and that number is bound to climb. The solution? Waterless washing. Waterless product innovations are part of a more minimalist approach to hygiene where people focus on washing only the smelliest parts of their body – pits, bits, holes and soles – to reduce water consumption and damage to their microbiome. WGSN cites Swair’s Showerless Shampoo that cleans without suds or rinsing and Hanni’s no-water hybrid Shave Pillow which enables users to remove hair anywhere.

A beautiful brew: Fermentation releases enzymes that break down active molecules, allowing them to deliver powerful ingredients into the very structure of your skin or hair. Part of a wider trend towards sustainable holistic beauty and plant-based ingredients, fermenting botanicals such as rice, mushroom and tea cultivate the growth of beneficial bacteria, which act as a natural preservative, making fermented beauty ideal for sustainably minded and value-focused consumers.

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Loyalty is pointless: As more companies accept cryptocurrency, digital rewards programs are on the rise. Mastercard is about to allow customers to earn and spend rewards in digital currencies instead of traditional points. Brave is a new browser that pays users in crypto currencies in exchange for their data. Lolli is a shopping portal that offers 30% cashback for using it while shopping in crypto. Roll over boomers and tell Gen-Z the news.

Pimp my avatar: According to WGSN, designing and selling items that don’t exist IRL (In Real Life) directly to avatars allows brands to enter the metaverse, sidestep supply chains, and open up new revenue streams. By 2022, the “in-game skins” market will soar to $50 billion. Companies such as Bitmoji and Genies allow users to create and customize their virtual identities. Brands can now debut exclusive digital products in-game on platforms like Roblox and Fortnite.

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Rhymes with emoji: Koji, the fermenting and flavouring ingredient long favoured by global chefs, is now appearing in plant-based meats such as Prime Roots’ koji bacon. As WGSN describes it, Koji is the name for rice or barley inoculated with the mould Aspergillus oryzae. It produces enzymes that break down proteins, fats and sugars, which then play a role in transforming ingredients in culinary applications. Miso paste, soya sauce and sake are made with koji mixed with grains or beans. Koji also satisfies our craving for umami. Yummy!

Chinese tequila: Baijiu is a high-proof white spirit distilled from grains like rice, millet and sorghum. Who knew that it globally outsells whisky, vodka, gin, rum and tequila combined? Baijiu boosters want it to ascend to the same international status as regional spirits like tequila. WGSN notes that there are already specialist bars such as Boston Baijiu Bar, baijiu cocktails like the White Rabbit at Viridian in Oakland, California, and craft spirits from Sydney’s Australian Baijiu, U.K.’s V.I.P Jiu 8 and the U.S.’s Buffalo Trace. The official drink of the end of the world?

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Wear conditioning: As planetary temperatures rise, performance and athletic garments that monitor and reduce body heat will be a must-have. “E-textiles” provide personalised temperature control, with the added benefit of reducing air conditioning’s environmental impact. Ralph Lauren has already experimented with climate control garments at the most recent Olympic games.  The smart material could be of interest to performance and personal care categories in the short term – and maybe every other garment category in the long term when things get really hot and sticky.

Friendly fibre: Flax (linen), hemp and jute are hot. These biodegradable fibres support regenerative agriculture by helping the soil sequester carbon and use far less fertiliser and water to grow. WGSN reminds us that linen is cooling, moisture-wicking, absorbent, breathable and durable, and has antibacterial, moth- and stain- resistant properties. Linen and hemp are of interest to denim brands, while jute has a future in footwear and accessories.

The future is fuchsia: WGSN and sister brand Coloro previously predicted intense magenta as the next big thing. After two years of COVID fatigue, vivid colours like this convey a much-needed sense of optimism and vigour. The hue should do well in digital fashion, gaming and virtual environments. Equally invigorating in analog form, WGSN and Coloro chose this hue with trans-seasonality and gender-inclusivity in mind.

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Tufting it out: Tufted cushions, rugs and other products are a global trend, emerging on every continent. Tufting covers every part of the home, from the bathroom floor to living room armchairs and the dining room wall. Mass retailers are introducing tufting in cushions and rugs, including H&M South Africa. And designer brands like Justina Blakeney’s collaboration with Loloi, and Peter Saville’s new range for Kvadrat suggest that tufted textures will be popular for years to come. Check out TikTok’s #tuftok to see how Milllennials and Gen Z’ers are indulging in unique and expressive DIY tufting.