There was a brief period in 2016 when so-called Millennial Pink seemed poised to become the Flower Power of our times—a trendy aesthetic that embodied a cultural shift.
Just as daffodil crowns and floral-printed shift dresses became ubiquitous fashions that reflected the love-in, anti-war spirit of late ’60s flower children, Millennial Pink evoked today’s progressive gender-fluidity movement.
No matter the shade, pink used to be girly, preppy, or flamboyant. But Millennial Pink—a rosy, muted, retro pink, like the color of blush dogwood blossoms and Babe the piglet—was somehow cool and androgynous.
Worn by men and women, it was the color of a generation that wears “The Future is Genderless” tees and believes sexuality operates on a spectrum.
I say “was” because Millennial Pink is no longer just a chic generational mascot; it’s a hyper-commercialized trend that has reached its saturation point.
No longer just the color of Drake’s 2015 “Hotline Bling” album cover, or of the interior decor at The Wing, an intersectionality-championing women’s club in New York that opened late last year, it’s featured in every vaguely-hip furniture company’s catalogue and on the racks at every retail fashion chain store.
It’s the new filament lightbult of the design world: a cliché ripe for parody.
“I think when you start seeing a trend like this on every design blog out there, it’s the end,” said Chiara de Rege, interior designer and CdR & Co founder who created the interior at The Wing. “What I liked about Millennial Pink in The Wing design phase was twofold: it was feminine but not in a girly-girl way. There was a neutrality and timelessness about it. But I look at it as a different color now. It’s so saturated it needs to go on the backburner for a while.”
Jane Boddy, color director of the trend forecasting agency WGSN who first became interested in the hue back in 2011, declared Millennial Pink is on its way out.
“For a while it was all about the genderlessness of guys and girls wearing this pastel tone, but this year we’ve reached a point where it’s everywhere—from bedding to notebooks and cars,” said Boddy. “We have hit the peak.”
That’s not to say it will suddenly disappear from celebrity wardrobes, fashion runways (the color was big in Fall 2017 collections), and Pinterest pages.
Indeed, Gigi Hadid was seen wearing matching Millennial Pink pants and sneakers earlier this week, and hip hop artist Frank Ocean—who has described his own sexuality as “dynamic”—recently stepped out in New York City with Millennial Pink hair.
But even GQ noted, like Boddy and de Rege, that “‘millennial’ pink has been everywhere forever” and Ocean’s new ’do “feels like the peak of that trend.”
So what color will defy its own conventions next?
“We’re starting to see a lot of red coming through on the high street,” said Boddy. “It has gone from being a primary color to something that’s quite cool and refined,” she added, remarking that she noticed it was hugely popular in Korea back in February. She predicts that purple will become increasingly popular as well.
Dhruva Tipathi, an analyst at the fashion trend forecaster f-trend, also predicts that red will be big in the fashion and design worlds—along with bright orange.
“Red especially is already emerging strong at major runway shows and on the street, but I think red and orange will emerge stronger than pink in part because millennials like to express themselves very boldly,” said Tipathi, who noted that these colors are also “associated with the growing charm of women and men’s activity at the gym.”
It’s worth noting that Millennial Pink isn’t a socio-political expression for everyone. After all, it has long been the color of Ivanka Trump’s namesake fashion and lifestyle brand.
Not coincidentally, Ivanka wore a Millennial Pink shift dress from her own line when she delivered her big speech at the Republican National Convention, vowing that, if her father was elected, she would fight alongside him for better maternal leave policies and wage equality.
Back then, progressives were cautiously optimistic that perhaps Ivanka wasn’t just her father’s daughter. Perhaps she would successfully advocate for women if Trump became president. But nearly five months into a Trump presidency, Ivanka has failed to deliver on those promises—and Millennial Pink has lost a good deal of its luster too.