IBM Forecasts Steampunk As Next Big Thing

Clearly the IBM trend analysts haven’t been allowed to visit the likes of Dragon*Con or Comic-Con in recent years as they’re just now realizing that it’s a real trend:

Based on an analysis of more than a half million public posts on message boards, blogs, social media sites and news sources, IBM predicts that ‘steampunk,’ a sub-genre inspired by the clothing, technology and social mores of Victorian society, will be a major trend to bubble up, and take hold, of the retail industry. Major fashion labels, accessories providers and jewelry makers are expected to integrate a steampunk aesthetic into their designs in the coming year.

Measuring public sentiment can help retail chief marketing officers customize incentives and services to be more in tune with what customers are asking for, using data to tailor their offerings to address fast-moving trends and real-time customer needs.

Through its sentiment analysis, IBM has found that steampunk is evolving into a cultural ‘meme’ via a series of leaps across cultural domains (such as fiction, visual arts, etc). A combination of science fiction and fantasy, steampunk is a sub-genre based around gothic machinery and the industrialized civilization of the 19th century. Rooted in the designs of the industrialized civilization of the 19th century, steampunk is a retro-futuristic style of fashion that is influenced by the works of Jules Verne, Nikola Tesla, HG Wells and more.

Using advanced analytics, IBM has been able to track the spread of trends geographically, chronologically and now, culturally. From 2009 to 2012, the amount of steampunk chatter has increased eleven-fold. Since 2010, more than two dozen US department stores and specialty retailers have become steampunk savvy. During the next two years, IBM predicts that steampunk will shift from low production, high cost “craft” manufacturing to mass production…

[More from IBM]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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  • zombieslapper

    Oh gawd… I think even Boing Boing is finally tiring of steampunk.

    • Matt Staggs

      I think Doctorow is on to Rococopunk now. Seriously.

  • handsomedan

    stupidest development in our culture yet. steampunk…jesus christ…

  • Whit Hole

    Ugh. When steam punk becomes mass produced it is no longer either “steam” or “punk”. Get with it, IBM.

  • Rickenbacker4001

    This reminds me of models trumpeting Grunge wear and lumberjack shirts at 50X the price in the 90’s.

  • Calypso_1

    Does this mean that IBM will produce a line of Babbage machines?

    • “Big” Richard Johnson

      I want one to wear on my head.

      • Calypso_1

        I’m strangely turned on by this idea.

  • motley

    Accordingh to Jon Robb ( Resilant Communities) the next big thing is ging to be’ Dronenet’ as big as the internet he reckons- interesting stuff

  • “Big” Richard Johnson

    As awesome as this would be, I doubt it.

  • Chaorder Gradient

    But have you heard of DieselPunk?

    • handsomedan



    steampunk fashion died moments before it hit the internet….
    and that was years ago…really.
    like over a decade ago.

    i’m sorry you guys were late for the picnic.
    i’m also sorry you took the picnic seriously.
    i”m also sUpEr sorry you decided to make the picnic a “lifestyle choice”

    what Steampunk looks like in magical storytime village

    steam punk as it exists in Reality.

  • Gary

    Half a million posts from the internet? That’s like, watching twitter for an hour and a half.

  • Haystack

    IBM: Bringing you yesterday’s future, today.

  • BuzzCoastin

    is IBM muscling in on Clif High & the webbotproject?
    looks like the same level of accuracy too

  • chinagreenelvis

    I hear computers are going to catch on at some point as well.

  • Leah Doner

    The Steampunk-themed gift store in my neighborhood changed focus last November. The owner told me the fad had played out and it was time to look for a new angle.