- Millennials have become trendsetters in the past decade.
- Business Insider took a look at six of the biggest millennial trends and moments from each year over the last 10 years.
- Millennials have led the way to healthier eating, revived ’90s fashion, and sparked national debate.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
During the past decade, millennials have cemented their role in the world.
In 2010, the youngest millennials turned 14 and the oldest turned 29. In 2020, they will be turning 24 to 39, respectively. Over the course of the past 10 years, they have minted new trends, sparked national debate, and created defining moments in history.
Business Insider took a look at some of the biggest trends, and the findings are telling. Millennials‘ preferences when it comes to food and drink have been inspired by Instagram and have led a path to healthier eating. Nostalgic for their past, millennials have contributed to the cycle of the fashion world by reviving ’90s wear. And they have expanded – for better or worse – the world’s lexicon.
And even as millennials around the world have pushed for change in fields ranging from gender equality to the government, breakout celebrities like Cardi B and Justin Bieber have changed the face of pop culture.
From the hottest food and drink to the topics millennials couldn’t stop talking about, here are six defining trends and moments for millennials from each year in the past decade.
2010: The year of Justin Bieber, bromances, and meat.
The look: Thanks to many an appearance on the red carpet and runways, peplum tops make their way into millennial wardrobes.
The food/drink: Charcuterie has become a food trend of the decade, but 2010 sees the rise of cured meats as an Instagrammable cheese board staple.
The pop culture moment:Lady Gaga steps out in a dress made of raw meat at the MTV Video Music Awards.
The millennial celebrity icon:Justin Bieber is the most Googled person and entertainer of the year, largely thanks to his debut album and hit “Baby.”
The millennial catchphrase: There’s nothing sweeter than a bromance, or an “intimate and affectionate friendship between men,” which spikes in online usage in 2010.
The thing no one could stop talking about:Healthcare – President Barack Obama passes Obamacare, which enables young adults under 26 to be eligible for health-care benefits under their parents’ plan.
2011: The year of Pinterest, the Kate effect, and Gluten-free everything.
The look: Millennials go bold in 2011, opting for coloured skinny jeans and feather accessories, from hair clips to earrings.
The food/drink: Gluten-free diets are nothing new by 2011, but they become a fad even among those who didn’t have a gluten intolerance.
The pop culture moment: The magical adventure that nearly every millennial grew up with comes to its film franchise end with the last instalment of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II.”
The millennial celebrity icon: Kate Middleton steals the world’s hearts ahead of the royal wedding in April 2011, beginning the long-lasting “Kate Effect.”
The millennial catchphrase: No one can stop “throwing shade,” or underhandedly insulting someone, which explodes in online usage this year.
2012: The year of J.Law, YOLO, and the kale craze.
The look: The maxi skirt’s cousin, the high-low dress, rises in popularity as millennial retailers from Forever 21 to H&M popularise the trend.
The millennial celebrity icon: Jennifer Lawrence becomes a household name as a star in “Silver Linings Playbook” and the female action lead in the first instalment of “The Hunger Games” trilogy; her character, Katniss Everdeen, is the most-searched-for Halloween costume that year.
2013: The year of cut-outs, quinoa, and cronuts.
The food/drink: Millennials continue to fuel the healthy food movement with the Paleo diet and quinoa – except when they’re willing to stand in line for the infamous croissant-doughnut hybrid, the cronut.
The millennial celebrity icon:Miley Cyrus comes swinging into 2013 on a wrecking ball, shedding her Hannah Montana roots.
The millennial catchphrase: 2013 is the year millennials get “thirsty,” otherwise known as horny or desperate for sex.
2014: The year of Nicki Minaj, “Serial,” and feminism.
The pop culture moment: Sarah Koenig’s award-winning podcast “Serial” explores the true story of a convicted murderer whose case didn’t quite check out.
The millennial catchphrase: There’s no one catchphrase in 2014, but many one-off slang terms take off this year, including bae, basic, #blessed, get lit, and slay.
2015: The year of avocado toast, rosé, and athleisure.
The pop culture moment: Adele makes a huge overnight comeback with the release of “Hello,” crushing nearly every record.
The millennial celebrity icon: From writing and starring in Trainwreck to having her own HBO special, comedian Amy Schumer shines in 2015.
The thing no one could stop talking about: From Jennifer Lawrence’s Lenny Letter to Patricia Arquette’s Oscars speech, the pay gap becomes a hot-button issue for millennials – as does same-sex marriage, which becomes legalised in the US this year.
2016: The year of millennial pink, Moscow Mules, and FOMO.
The pop culture moment: 2016 is a year of revelations – Kim Kardashian leaks an edited phone call in which Taylor Swift appears to give Kanye West permission to use an offensive term, while Beyoncé drops a surprise album, “Lemonade,” revealing that Jay-Z cheated on her.
The millennial celebrity icon: Ashley Graham becomes the first plus-sized model on Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue, and she turns the opportunity into a platform for body positivity.
The millennial catchphrase: Instagram and the experience economy fuel the rise in FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, among millennials; search for the term peaks in 2017.
2017: The year of mum jeans, canned wine, and Harry Styles.
The look: Mum jeans are no longer just for mums – millennials make them cool again in 2017.
The pop culture moment: Beyoncé announces she’s pregnant with twins in a very viral Instagram post in which she’s shrouded in a green veil.
The millennial catchphrase: “Binge-watch” has been a growing popular term since 2013, but it reaches peak search status in 2017 as streaming services grow.
The thing no one could stop talking about: All generations are talking about the sexual-abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein, and the #MeToo movement fuels its fire on social media.
2018: The year of bike shorts, Cardi B, and “Thank U, Next.”
The look: Bike shorts see a resurgence among millennials after celebrities like Bella Hadid, Kim Kardashian, and Emily Ratajkowski are spotted sporting the look.
The pop culture moment: Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” becomes a viral sensation, hitting heartbroken millennials everywhere.
The millennial celebrity icon: From beating Beyoncé’s Billboard record and giving birth to baby girl Kulture to appearances at The Met Gala and the Grammy’s, Cardi B wields ultimate star power in 2018.
The millennial catchphrase: The concept of BDE, or Big Dick Energy, explodes after Ariana Grande makes reference to the size of boyfriend Pete Davidson’s penis.
The thing no one could stop talking about: The millennial royal wedding – actress Meghan Markle marries Prince Harry, and it’s just the beginning in a series of moves that start modernising the monarchy.
2019: The year of CBD, Lizzo, and the leopard print.
The look: The silk-bias cut leopard-print midi skirt takes over the streets, and it’s paired with everything from vintage tees and leather jackets to sneakers.
The pop culture moment: You can nary walk into a bar during summer 2019 without hearing the country-rap duo of Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus singing “Old Town Road.”
The millennial celebrity icon:Lizzo takes home more Grammy nominations than any other artist and becomes a hit not just for her catchy, relatable lyrics but for her self-love and body positivity.
The millennial catchphrase: Megan Thee Stallion starts the phrase “hot girl summer” with the first lyric of her song “Cash Shit,” which quickly begins trending on social media.
The thing no one could stop talking about:Student-loan debt – as the national total exceeds $US1.5 trillion, the issue begins taking centre stage among Democratic candidates vying for a presidential bid in the 2020 election.