If you’ve been to the gym lately (or anywhere, really) you will have noticed a trend in the past few years towards brighter and brighter colors in athletic shoes and apparel. Neon yellow, bright pink, even pairings of many colors previously thought “un-complimentary.” The movement isn’t necessarily about color, either, it’s about standing out from the crowd, and celebrating an active lifestyle.

TheUltraBright.com, a color forecasting and research group, points to “the re-emergence and dominance of street culture and its impact of society,” especially among young people. And young people have quite a bit of spending power when it comes to athletic wear, a fact not lost at the big manufacturers like Nike, Adidas, and UnderArmour. Eugene Rogers, basketball color lead at Nike, explains his team’s process when developing a new palette for a product (also called a “colorway”): “the design team will sometimes come up with an idea that might only be on the periphery of what our target audiences are interested in. Then we’ll try our best to find a way to bring that story or source of inspiration to life with color and graphics – in a way that young basketball fans will enjoy and find appealing. In may ways that process is how we continue to push the aesthetic of the shoes – by introducing unexpected twists to the stories and by constantly asking ourselves what a basketball shoe is and looks like.”

People use fashion to declare something about themselves. And color plays a huge role in the type of declaration you want to make. Kalista Walters, a basketball player at Bethlehem Catholic in Pennsylvania, puts it this way: “”I love bright colors. It looks cool. You notice our team if we have all bright sneakers.”

It’s interesting to track color trends across categories, you can even check out a previous blog post about how some of those trends are identified and encouraged. And while this one may have started with young people, it’s finding it’s way to all demographics. What might have been thought “ugly” a few years ago is now celebrated as “unique.” I’m all for it, so below I’ve created a gallery – a celebration – of bright, funky colors. Enjoy.