My mother often sewed my clothes herself, cut my hair, and canned food from our garden, all to save our family money. I may not have always had the coolest outfits as a kid, but the love and effort my mother put into my clothes was evident not only in their uniqueness, but in their authenticity and durability.
Culturally, we are experiencing a return to the traditional ways of doing many of the tasks we’ve mindlessly let huge corporations take on for us. Today, many consumers are finding ways to create their own authentic lifestyle—a move that requires creativity, attention to detail, and a Do-It-Yourself mentality.
The modern consumer lives each day as their own, individual DIY experience; we live in an era where the consumer is empowered and encouraged to design their own products—their own life—which offers each individual consumer the opportunity to engage in brand construction. In the Pacific Northwest, we pride ourselves on the curiosity and individuality that motivates us to brew our own beer, build our own stone ovens, re-purpose human and wilderness castoffs into functional and creative art, and even design and construct personalized objects—ranging from bicycles to tiny houses—out of recycled materials.
For many of us, the appeal of the DIY lifestyle is not just about frugality or political radicalism: it’s about a deeper connection with authentic craftsmanship and the heart of the artisan poured out into his unique, irreplaceable design. People are realizing more and more that the imperfection of a handmade object offers a warmer, more familiar embrace than the cold veneer of a factory-made product ever could.
This quest for individuality is a Macrotrend embodied by many cultures, including those right around the corner from you. Take a walk in your neighborhood; look around you. From re-purposing and recycling to appreciating the extraordinary nature of a handmade product, DIY is everywhere as each member of our global community crafts their own identity and experience. The plastic bottle castoffs of first-world citizens are recreated into usable and visually stunning rooftops, jewelry, and even rafts in countries like Fiji, Guatemala, and Brazil, proving that re-purposing has become a truly evolutionary process.
DIY crosses more borders and inhabits more spaces than your average Macrotrend by covering a versatile profile of skill sets varying from home improvement, crafting, community-based art, thrifting, and more. Centered on the re-usability of old materials, while rewarding the DIYer with the experience of the pursuit and capture of these materials, this Macrotrend champions creative thought and pushes traditional boundaries through new methods of technology, recycling, irony, and innovation. A DIYer knows that it is the details that make an item beautiful and unique, and seeks the best example of craft in whatever they create or purchase.
Over a century ago a similar movement of people seeking to reconnect with hands-on activities and the aesthetic value associated with them set the stage for the DIYers of today. Coincidentally, the Arts and Crafts movement came at a time of industrialization and modernization that progressed away from the artisan styles of the past and gave way to mass-production.
However, the heritage of this historic movement is evident when we compare the Industrial Age with the current corporate market, and connect the anti-industrial mentality with the post-modern consumer’s motivation to exist apart from capitalistic control while maintaining individual style and taking part in a progressive, creative global community.
An abundance of original, unusual, yet high-quality goods allows consumers to pursue unique, alternative lifestyle identification while fashionably eluding the mainstream market—and frequently staying one step ahead of it. This new crafting movement encourages people to make things themselves, or buy one-of-a-kind, artisan products, rather than purchasing a replica of what thousands of other people already own. Today’s DIY appeal is about more than thrift and sustainability as it also embodies a community-wide reaction to the identity loss that results from marketing to a broad and largely undefined consumer group.
The current DIY renaissance embodies a deep respect for the history of innovation and therefore receives high approval from today’s critical minded, self-made citizens. Internationally, people have returned to self-sufficiency in order to adopt a lifestyle of frugality, concentrate on the detail of good craftsmanship, customize their interests, and feel less dependent on larger corporations and standardized aesthetics.
The DIY culturescape houses an evolving, widespread demographic with distinct (and nearly activist) perspectives and goals; one of the main appeals of crafting is the pleasure derived simply from the lack of corporate control over our consumer activities—and the ability to exit the consumer model by meeting material needs without paying market prices. While the idea that consumers desire to consume less and create more may seem daunting, it’s actually an ideal window through which to invite the customer into your brand by asking them to care about where your products come from and how they are made, while showing your customers that you care about their values and their pocketbooks.