Steampunk is about to bulldoze its way into the mainstream, according to Dr. Trevor Davis, a consumer reports expert at IBM. And he has data to back that up.
IBM has a system called the Social Sentiment Index, which collects and analyzes comments and mentions from across social media to discover and study trends. This system’s gaze has been turned towards Steampunk and they found what we’ve known all along, that Steampunk is growing and spreading and isn’t likely to stop any time soon.
The trajectory for steampunk as a popular social and cultural trend is on the rise. From 2009 to 2012 the amount of social media chatter about steampunk rose by an astonishing 11 times. Recently, the 2012 Paralympics closing ceremony put the global spotlight on steampunk when singer Rihanna made her entrance on a steam sailing-ship to a world television audience of 3.4 billion. In addition, Lady Gaga has been photographed in neo-Victorian garb. Now a US television network is writing a steampunk-inspired TV show for the fall 2013 season.
Interestingly, their analysis let’s them map Steampunk’s spread from its fictional roots into all its current expressions.
Steampunk has become a style influence on mainstream clothing, accessories and home furnishings after several cultural leaps. In social media it is possible to analyse the move from fiction to fandom and music-making. Then to low-volume craft-makers to costuming. Next, promotion by cool-hunters and the attention of a few leading retailers. Now celebrities, high fashion and interior design.
For steampunk, the tipping point came in October 2010, when NYC ComicCon and a NYC Haunted House Halloween event both featured steampunk themes. Two months after that exposure, the level of social chatter more than doubled. Shortly thereafter, US department stores and specialty retail shops began to feature steampunk-inspired window displays and steampunk-inspired clothing and accessories as ways to increase footfall.
Of course, analytics are used to measure and dissect every part of public and consumer behavior today, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that trends receive this level of examination, but it is still fascinating to see what they have gleaned about our little universe. For example, 33% of the discussion of Steampunk fashion happens on gaming sites, and 70% of Steampunk-related tweets are by women.
In addition to Dr. Davis’s comments, IBM has produced an infographic that shows their findings and their prediction that we’ll see “steampunk styling in mainstream clothing, furnishings, and accessories by 2014.”
If IBM is right, this could be a bumpy ride.