When we were younger, we all followed certain “fads“*. As a kid of the 90s I remember the switch from Pokemon to Digimon (and I know some never made that leap), from Digipets to Giga pets, from Harry Potter to Lord of the Rings. As kids, there were things that we were all “obsessively in love with”, but changed over time. It defined the memories that we have as children of a certain decade.
Fast forward to 20 – 30 years from then (I’m clearly writing for my age group here), where we have obsessions about different things. Instead of “fads”, then are now “hype“. From craft beer to craft cocktails, from Crossfit to Pelotons (watch out Australia), from Dolce and Gabbana to Fendi and Madonna, we call them by different names – artisan and craft – but in many ways they are simply the same fads that we’ve had since we were children. Some of them signal status and privilege, social inclusion, or just simply being hip (especially as we get older). In this age instead of calling it a fad, it’s now become “hype”. There is hype for everything from sneakers to boy bands (BTS – hey it all comes around). Much of it is shepherded along by Instagram as we’ve become a more techie, and aesthetically-sensitive culture, but in many ways hype is the same.
What I have noticed as change with “hype” vs a “fad”, is the prevalence of craft and a way to tell its story. As a more “woke” society, we ask questions not only about the end product but the process it has gone through to be in the form it is in in front of you (or behind a screen if you’re online shopping). Fielding these questions requires suppliers and merchants to be 1. on top of their game to know what they’re providing and 2. hone in on doing it well to develop their craft. Never before has “craft” seen the light of day has it has in modern-day society. Every product comes with a story and a uniqueness that makes it worth the price it’s been marked. In some ways there is a clearer understanding of seeing something’s value or worth (monetarily).
And “craft” has been around for centuries. “Craft” is simply the expertise we develop when we do a deep dive. In many ways its synonymies to skill, flow, expertise, and creativity. In a world of generalists, we appreciate when an individual can do a deep dive and create a unique item, bringing their own flair as a result of their background or interests. Just has each object has history, it has the ability to be elevated (craft). In some ways, you could reframe craft as a combination of history (and legacy), and skill.
However, there is a slight distinction between hype and craft. While there might be hype for a craft, a craft exists outside of hype. It is true that we see more of the craft of something (that might result in hype), but some of that craft has already been there. Shows such as Blown Away on Netflix are a perfect example of a highly skilled domain that is (finally) getting the appreciation and light in the sun. Prior to streaming platforms or social media, it wasn’t always easy to highlight what went behind a product. These platforms are used heavily to “hype” and storytell their way into your hearts and pockets.
It’s hard to resist the capitalistic urge to spend on the highly priced hipster item, but next time you’re tempted, ask yourself, is there craft in what I’m putting my currency in? Or is it just hype? What is the story I’m being told here and by what standards am I judging its authenticity?
I’ve personally been on a journey to find craft in (almost) everything I touch. Some examples below: