badminton baddies: is 2024 the year of the shuttlecock?

Pinterest predicts the racket sport will be the hot new thing this year. We investigate why

Hero image in post
Hero image in post

Pinterest predicts the racket sport will be the hot new thing this year. We investigate why

By Darshita Goyal18 Jan 2024
5 mins read time
5 mins read time

Try thinking of a famous person who plays badminton. No, not a professional, just a celebrity who thinks of the sport as a fun hobby and posts cute pics with a racket. Shooting blanks? Same. Despite lacking a grand influencer endorsement, badminton is on the rise in 2024. In fact, as per Pinterest’s annual trend forecasting report, baddie (yes, we’re calling it that) is predicted to be the Gen Z and millennial sport of the year.

There’s proof: in the last three months alone, Pinterest UK has seen a 180 per cent increase in searches for “playing badminton aesthetic” and a 170 per cent rise in searches for “badminton”. Everyone’s favourite plushie brand Jellycat also introduced a badminton soft toy as part of its new year collection and TikTok is booming with GRWM to play badminton videos. So why is the shuttlecock and racket sport gaining fame among young people?

Let’s start with subliminal influences: the last few years have witnessed a wild racket sport renaissance with padel, pickleball and tennis emerging as the go-to sport for the bored and wealthy. Research by sports platform Padel Athletes claims that 900,000 padel rackets were sold across the world in 2023, making it the fastest-growing sport globally. However, a padel racket costs anywhere between £30 and £100 on average, and as a relatively new activity, courts for the sport are hard to find and even harder to afford.

On the contrary, a pair of badminton rackets can be purchased online for as little as a tenner and the sport is infamous for being low-maintenance. It’s likely that you’ve played baddie in a park or make-do gym hall while that’s rare for specialist sports like tennis or padel. This makes badminton an easy choice during the cozzie livs when money is tight, and equally when you’re in the mood for a spontaneous plan.

While growing up, London-based UX designer Malavika Mahajan played badminton with her grandparents. But recently, she returned to the sport because of its accessibility. “Unlike other team sports, you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment or people to play badminton,” she says. “It is especially great in London’s erratic weather because you can play indoors as well.”

Then there’s the lack of frill and pomp surrounding the techniques of badminton. Whether you’re a pro-server or a throw-in-the-air-and-hope-to-aim newbie, the sport is simple to pick up and play, allowing people of all skill and interest levels to get involved. For Isis Lloyd, a freelance filmmaker, this quality makes badminton a big draw in comparison to other hyper-competitive, high-intensity sports. “I like that you can chat with friends in between and it doesn’t feel as serious as something like squash where you’re facing a wall in competition. It feels more instinctive and childlike, which makes it fun,” she says.

In a world with so much divisiveness, adopting the aesthetic commonly associated with your sport of choice helps others know that you are part of that community.
Effy Okogba

The social element associated with badminton is also key in making it popular. As young people move away from drinking culture and club nights – and trends like loud budgeting gain support – the way that we socialise is changing, too. People prefer to meet for an activity that gives them the bang for their buck; playing baddie with friends combines a workout with chill-hang time, making it a win-win. Max Purvis, a civil engineer who plays the sport weekly with his friends, says, “I love that badminton is easy to pick up, meaning that loads of our mates can come play even if they have never played before. It’s a great level of exercise to just about keep you active.”

Besides the sport itself, badminton style has also come front and centre. Louise Richardson, director of integrated marketing at Pinterest reveals that searches for “badminton shoes” have gone up 75 per cent in the last three months while users are curating inspiration moodboards for their on-court outfits. Some common pins include fuchsia pleated skirts, bright polos and electric blue sweater vests. This isn’t surprising for a generation that thrives on finding connection through cores and eras.

After all, girl math, girl dinners and hot girl walks have existed for time immemorial. These trends didn’t go viral for their novelty but for their ability to spark conversations and that’s precisely what the rise of badminton style suggests. “Visual identifiers are important in establishing a sense of belonging,” explains Effy Okogba, CEO at creative agency and youth culture specialist brand The Digital Fairy. “In a world with so much divisiveness, adopting the aesthetic commonly associated with your sport of choice helps others know that you are part of that community.”

At a time when everything feels a bit out of reach, the accessibility and acceptance within the badminton space makes it an easy fan favourite. With its likeness to other racket sports, it gives people a whiff of elite sporting culture without the effort or money spent. Who needs a celebrity endorsement when you can have a wholesome game day with your gang instead? Corny, but so true.