Why homewares are where the Millennial’s heart is

Our high streets continue to see an influx of homeware offerings from brands better known for clothing. ASOS has launched its own-brand Supply range just a few months after the debut of River Island’s RI Home collection. This blog explores what lies behind this trend and how it may well intensify.

Source: ASOS Supply, RI Home

As Millennials struggle to get on the housing ladder, and move from one rented property to the next, buying big-ticket items like kitchens, wardrobes or beds seems like a dubious investment – a mind-set change that put pressure on many furniture retailers.

At the same moment, young adults are actually spending more time at home as, saddled by student debt and often blocked in career terms, they can’t afford to go out as much. This has produced a cultural shift where the home is increasingly seen as a refuge from stressful everyday life.

However, cash-strapped and home-trapped though they may be, Millennials seem determined to make sure these refuges are stylish vehicles for self-expression – injecting personality through smaller, affordable,  accent pieces such as vases, knick-knacks or cushions. It doesn’t seem a coincidence that these are all hero items at the successful lifestyle and gifting chain Oliver Bonas, which has popularised inexpensive, quirky, handcrafted-style home décor.

Source: Handpainted ceramics range at Oliver Bonas

Unique designs and a homemade aesthetic tick two important boxes for this type of homeware shopper. It allows them to curate a collection of distinctive, identity-projecting items that are also flexible enough to fit changing lives and living spaces.

Beyond ceramics and trinkets, bigger pieces like a rug or a striking duvet cover can turn a room from drab and impersonal to bold and welcoming. This is particularly appreciated by students or younger professionals who are renting and cannot join in on other interior trends such as statement tiling, colourful blinds or moody wall paint.

Of course, putting your own stamp on your living space has always been a popular way of impressing friends and demonstrating status. Today, inevitably, social media has magnified this phenomenon. Artfully arranged interior shots and immaculate #shelfies are booming as décor begins to rival fashion or food as an Instagramable way of signalling lifestyle accomplishment. Once it was just OOTD or ‘look at my uber-healthy smoothie’, now it’s ‘check out my china’ too.

Source: #shelfie tagged posts on Instagram

Looking ahead, it’s clear that homeware players which supply low-cost kudos – whether through original designs or handcrafted character – will play well to a pressured generation whose lives are on show like never before.

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