Smithers-Oasis North America Design Director Sharon McGukin, AIFD, AAF, PFCI enjoys sharing floral tips and techniques for celebrating life with flowers.
“I think every time you shop, when you walk into a store no matter where it is, you're looking around for what's new,” says floral trend guru Talmage McLaurin AIFD of Sunshine Bouquet. “You want to see something different. You want to be inspired.”
In his nearly three decades of trend-watching, Talmage has discerned that floral trends are not revolutionary - they're evolutionary. Trends aren’t disruptive, they’re a movement forward. A trend doesn't just arrive in one year, it's in the making two or three years as we move in that direction. “Tiny little shifts and a brand-new story.
Nobody's going to go in and change their world every two or three years, but they might adjust it slightly,” he suggests. That's why it's so important that the trends we embrace in our businesses are relatable to people.
Photo: Talmage McLaurin AIFD
Trends Share a Story
“If you're like me, sort of a visionary, you gravitate towards those things that are aspirational. Things that I don't have but maybe I want. I think a lot Americans are that way too,” he adds. Consumers are looking for what's new that can enhance their lives. “It's fun to tell a new story.”
Talmage began his floral career in a family-owned flower business, spent 23 years in floral publishing, contributed to more than 20 books, and staged eight popular AIFD trend presentations. He is now trend-spotting for flower farms, growers, and importers as a member of the Sunshine Bouquet Creative Team in Miami.
“I think of myself more as a journalist than a trend forecaster, I try to hinge my predictions on something that already exists. Something that I can bet on and really depend upon.”
Trends can drive impulse sales like fashion does. You have clothing, but when new seasonal styles emerge you want to add to your collection. “It's not just for something different. The new fashions are telling you a story. It's something you buy into.”
Talmage thinks we now see stories through Covid-colored glasses. “You've heard of rose-colored glasses. Well, those got broken somehow a couple years ago and they turned into Covid-colored glasses. I don't think anything in our world is quite the same.”
He encourages florists to have a sense of freedom when following trends.
• Use trend collections as a springboard
• Update your palettes to fit your customers
• Add color to distinguish yourself from others
• Start a trend forecast of your own
2023 Floral Trends
Visit flower.style.com to find inspirational images and trend stories as they evolve. Adapt these trends regionally to your own customers.
This look is based on our need to interact with nature. When Covid hit, everyone stayed at home. There was a push to communicate with and be surrounded by nature. “For folks living in urban areas, this became quite the task,” Talmage reminds us. “You couldn't just drive into the country. Here you are stuck in a concrete jungle and you're wanting to commune with nature.” How do you do that? A lot of city planners started creating more green space for parks within the city.
In the city of Paris alone, they gave up 70,000 parking places. “The population voted for this! I mean, if you've ever been to Paris, you know there's no place to park your car. And they're giving up 70,000 spaces to create plantings in the inner city? Wow!”
“In the US, 83% of folks are considered to live in urban areas. I'm a country boy. But, there's all these people trapped in the city trying to find a green leaf somewhere so that they can feel like they are communing with nature.” This palette is based on spring green and a deeper, richer green, but it's the blossoms in these plantings that really steal the show. A lot of bright colors like hot pinks and oranges all play together. “I've imagined that we're reclaiming the rainbow for everyone. It doesn't just have to be in a pride parade anymore.” It’s as if you’ve thrown the rainbow up against some green plantings.”
“It's a fancy word, but it just means here today and gone tomorrow,” Talmage muses. “It relates to the fact that during Covid we were stuck at home. There was a lot of cabin fever going down.”
People were losing their minds over the fact they didn't really know who was attacking them. “Was nature suddenly starting to attack us? Or, is it just some crazy man-made thing that came out of a laboratory in Wuhan? I mean, people were really confused about what was going on. I still don't think all those questions are answered, but that's beside the point.” The fact is that we are still seeking comfort in our lives.”
We’ve surrounded ourselves with comforting colors and materials. This introspective, sensitive palette of colors offers easy on the eye pastels that provide a sense comfort. “To make it heartfelt, add a dusty red to it,” he advises. “Red flowers tie it to our hearts. Especially for men. When they're buying flowers, they grab a red rose.” These pastels tied with a dusty red that makes it a very soft, easy to look at, feel good trend.
Just prior to the Pandemic, Cottagecore was a growing trend. Especially with young people online. “It got a bad rap because it didn't seem to have a clear worldview. It was a little too ‘little house on the prairie,” suggests Talmage. We cleaned it up and added some worldview to it.” The addition of textiles and weavings made it more inclusive. It still has the warm palettes and ideas of Cottagecore, but it's more basic.
It's what people wanted during the pandemic. Genuine. Authentic. “There was this idea that ‘I just want to move out to the country and live a simple life again.’ And, of course nobody did. But, that's the idea it was it's based on.” This very organic, functional trend has an abundance of warm colors. It has a lot of floral stems in it that you might have gone out into the country to pick. Goldenrod, a few wild sunflowers or some Queen Anne’s Lace gathered all together. We want to bring that look forward as a commercial product.
This look harnesses our creativity. The creativity of youth, as well. During this pandemic, nobody could really travel and people were going to school online. Museums were shut down so many of the major museums opened up virtually. You could hop online for a visit. It was absolutely free to tour the Louvre or other museums around the world. So, something happened creatively. Young people were virtually traveling and looking at a lot of Roman and Greek icons - like busts, statues, and columns. This spawned a creative sort of smash-up. I don't know if you’ve ever watched Glee. They'd take two songs and they'd smash 'em up,” explains Talmage.
These creative youngsters took the classical elements and smashed them up with some new ideas. “You have to be living under a rock, if you haven't seen all the face vases and sort of kickbacks to Roman and Greek times that are so prevalent in the accessories market now,” he continues. Take it one step further and add some really bright and contrasting colors to make this whole classical, historical, creative, new youthful look. “It's definitely an eclectic look, and a super young look. I think that's kind of why I like it. It's based in the classics, but it's just full of wild creativity.”
This look is expressive, vibrant and full of energy. “I live in Florida and I can tell you that Miami is very voluptuous in its attitude.” It's time to party now that Covid is theoretically over. “We all knew that if this thing ever got finished, we were going to try to have a good time again. And, that's what embodies this whole look,” says Talmage. It's sensuous, robust, and inclusive of everyone. All skin colors, body types, and points of view. And, it all comes together in a completely, utterly, warm palette. The pinks to reds, and burgundies. The peaches, to oranges, and rusts. There's no cool color involved at all. Take all the flowers that you can gather in those particular hues. Pull them together without the use of the color green - opposite red on the color wheel. “Without that contrast, suddenly all these related colors start playing together and having their own little party. And, that's the gist of it. This intense celebration.”
We're seeing a lot of vases of people without their clothes on. They're very popular. "In fact, there's one designer who has a vase that - you're getting a rear end view on this base, and it has two little handles on it. She calls them love handles. There's a bit of wit to the whole thing. It's bursting with primal energy and definitely celebrating a lust for life,” Talmage adds with a laugh.
During Covid, there was an overriding preoccupation with people about what we were doing to the world. “I mean, is this disease that we are dealing with something that we did to the world accidentally? Or, intentionally?” Asks Talmage.
“Whatever the case, we certainly could use some responsibility checks on how we are creating and cleaning up pollution.” This palette celebrates the earth. The world in a macro view. It's the teals of the ocean. The blues of the sky. The verdant greens of a pasture. Those colors come together and play off of each other in a very soothing way. It's a dark, rich sort of mysterious and magical palette. “It celebrates the earth and how we can responsibly move forward.”
Use Trends to Drive Sales
Trends are only as good as their relatability. “You've got to give folks a point of reference on how to accent the stories they're telling for themselves. The materials, colors and patterns to surround themselves with,” Talmage explains.
We've lost a lot of foot traffic because people got used to ordering online. You can use trendy materials as a hook to bring customers back into your store. Consumers have the opportunity to find items online, fall in love with them, and then come to your store to purchase them.
• Create on-trend vignettes in your brick and mortar store
• Photograph them for a landing page on your website
• Share what's new and clever in your showroom
• Host a flower arranging class in your space
• Collaborate with a local designer, accessory store, or other visual professional
• Bounce ideas off of each other, share products, and help move trends forward
“It's long been a joke that ‘every florist thinks they're an interior designer and every interior designer thinks they're a florist.” It's nice when the two can get along and use each other's strengths in a way that's helpful to both parties. “I've often said that you never really love flowers until you can get your hands on them,” Talmage concludes. “That's why I always encourage people to empower their customers to work with flowers, touch flowers, arrange flowers, and really enjoy what florists have known for years - flowers are a heck of a lot of fun.”
How can you use trends to drive impulse sales in your floral business?