Trends: The Quest For Cool

Predicting the future is hard work. Ask any professional trend spotter: it takes insight, dedication--and secret armies of superhip teenagers

Many of us are not cool. I am not cool. Chances are fairly good, statistically speaking, that you are not cool either. Don't feel bad about it. Cool is an elusive thing. If it weren't, well, we'd all be cool, wouldn't we? And then who would get snubbed in the hallways and made fun of in gym class?

Cool may be our country's most precious natural resource: an invisible, impalpable substance that can make a particular brand of an otherwise interchangeable product--a sneaker, a pair of jeans, an action movie--fantastically valuable. And cool can be used to predict the future. The...

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