For months, maybe years now, scrolling through Instagram has felt like taking a stroll through the inside of a mouth. Pink walls, pink books, pink lights, pink coats. Pink pink pink pink pink. I have no right to complain: When I read The Cut’s ground-breaking exposé on this color trend, I did so while perched atop my dusty rose duvet cover, taking pauses only to look around my room: baby pink desk chair, dark pink throw pillow, candy pink baseball hat.
“By the time everyone started calling it Millennial Pink in the summer of 2016,” wrote Lauren Schwartzberg, “the color had mutated and expanded to include a range of shades from beige with just a touch of blush to a peach-salmon hybrid.”
If I squint and scroll through my feeds, it’s still a rose-colored blur, but when I slow down and take a closer look, flashes of something else, something sunnier, betray a changing of the generational tides.
I call it Gen-Z Yellow.
It was only a matter of time. The paradox which made pink so appealing — that a color with “girly-girl baggage” could be re-imagined as a symbol of feminism and resistance — has been all but usurped by its own ubiquity. Where’s the fun in predictability? Yellow, by contrast, offers a bright, sobering respite from the barrage of over-saccharine bubblegum.
Just like millennial pink, Gen-Z Yellow is not one particular shade, but rather several shades, from buttercream to melted butter and beyond. Just like millennial pink, it’s finding its sea legs by way of the young and the hip, which can only mean one thing: By 2018, the entire internet will probably look like the inside of a banana.
Or like it’s trapped inside a bottle of French’s:
Or wrapped in caution tape:
Or dunked in a bowl of split pea soup:
My theory vis-a-vis Gen-Z Yellow has been stewing for a while, but the contours of it came into sharper focus when I noticed artist Petra Collins — one of the earliest propagators of millennial pink — started using yellow-y light in her shoots instead of the pale pink glow she’d become famous for.
And then, of course, there was the entire “Fetish” music video Collins shot for Selena Gomez, which features Selena in various yellow dresses and is generally very yellow. I’ve watched it no less than five times, start to finish, because I can’t get enough of the 1950s lemon meringue aesthetic.
Gen-Z Yellow is the natural evolution of millennial pink. It maintains that pleasing-to-the-eye softness of the sweetest shades of millennial pink, but without the over-played infantilization. It’s both nostalgic and modern. It has zest, energy, optimism. It’s frequently unflattering, which works nicely in 2017, ironically speaking, and it pairs well with impractical shoes and weird sunglasses. It hits the perfect 2017 note of both trying and caring, but seemingly only for your own agenda.
“Millie Bobby Brown Was the Coolest Teen at the Teen Choice Awards,” pronounced Vanity Fair yesterday, of Brown’s red carpet look this past Saturday: Her yellow Kenzo dress and tiny amber-tinted Chrome Hearts sunglasses were indeed cool, possibly the best, and definitely the ultimate manifestation of Gen-Z Yellow.
As Harling pointed out in June, yellow was the color of the Spring/Summer 17 runways, too. Maybe we’re all just sheep, our proclivities swaying in the cross-breeze between designers and influencers, but this feels bigger than the typically-ephemeral lifecycle of a runway trend. We’re not just going to be buying yellow coats, we’re going to be buying yellow couches and opening yellow coffee shops. Gen-Z knows these things.
Collage by Emily Zirimis.