Toby Shorin with a superb long essay, the product of six years’ work, that’s both an eerily accurate summary of the last decade of culture and a vision of the future that it’s hard not to be depressed by.
Shorin characterises the 2010s as the era of “lifestyle”:
“The 2010s is what I want to call the era of Lifestyle. You know what it felt like, because you lived through it. And I did too. Since 2014 I have lived in New York, inside the machine where Lifestyle is made. Spending my waking moments moving through these branded experiences, I felt they they pointed to something I could say but not name.”
Now coming to an end, what replaces it? Shorin argues that brands will begin to manufacture and shape culture far more directly, rather than merely reflecting it:
“The Lifestyle era was not about creating culture; it was about attaching brands onto existing cultural contexts. It was not about shaping people; it was about sorting consumer demographics into niche categories. The new order we are entering into reverses this. For some organizations, culture has become the product itself, and products have become secondary, auxiliary, to the production of culture.”