Does Pottery Barn Really Predict The Next Popular Names? Part 1

pottery-barn-summer-2013-pg92For years there has been a theory floating around the name-world that names appearing on monogrammed items in the Pottery Barn Kid’s catalog are up-and-coming names to watch.

Being a big time name watcher, I’m curious of course.

I set out to answer the question: Is this theory true or is Pottery Barn simply following trends, not setting them? Could the answer be both or none of the above?

To find out, I checked the Pottery Barn Kids catalog online archives. The online archives go back four years. I took a sample of names from the 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 issues.

Since the list of names became lengthy, this has become a four-part series. This is part 1, which focuses on names from 2010.

Future installments of this series will focus on the following years:

  • Part 2 – 2011
  • Part 3 – 2012
  • Part 4 – 2013

Names used for girls are coded pink, boys are coded blue, and if the gender is undetermined (or cannot be assumed) the name is coded green.

For example, Chloe is assumed to be a girl’s name, even if the decor in the catalog is unisex or traditionally masculine. For a traditionally unisex name like Taylor, the gender is determined based on the decor in the catalog; the name will be color coded based on whether the decor is traditionally masculine, feminine or unisex.

Based on when each name peaked, each name is categorized as:

  • Current (on trend for the catalog year or at their statistical popularity peak)
  • Traditional (never out of style or no big peaks or troughs)
  • Down-market (dated or past peak)
  • Up-and-coming (ahead of trends or trending upwards)
  • Original (unknown / invented / rare)

Names from the Autumn 2010 Online Issue

Current Names

These names peaked around 2010 (and in most cases these names are still at their peak):

Blake
Brayden
Brooks
Caroline
Chloe
Cooper
Emma
Evan
Gavin
Jack
Laney
Logan
Luke
Molly
Payton 
Riley
Sophia

Traditional Names

Names from the Autumn 2010 catalog that have been fashionable for at least a couple of generations:

Allison
Andrew
Anthony
Daniel
James
Joseph
Katherine
Matthew
Samuel

Down-market Names

Names from the Autumn 2010 catalog that statistically were on the decline in 2010. Truthfully some names on this list surprised me, such as Alex and Jake, but statistically these names were all past their peaks:

Alex
Ashton
Cameron
Conner
Devon
Hayley
Hunter
Jake
Jennifer
Jenny
Joshua
Katie
Kelly
Kyle
Lacy
Patrick
Tanner
Taylor
Todd
Trisha

Up-and-coming & Original Names

Now we are getting to the exciting part. The following lists of names were either up-and-coming or original, and were ahead of their time in 2010. A few of these names are still ahead of the trends. If Pottery Barn predicts name trends, these lists should be the longest.

Up-and-coming Names

These names were on the rise and fashion-forward in 2010:

Annabel
Calvin
Carter
Charlotte
Graham
Oliver
Reagan

Original Names

And here are names that were completely original in 2010—so uncommon they weren’t on many people’s radar (and in many cases are still under-the-radar):

Alie*
Barker
Cate
Leela
Lizzy**

*I had a hard time reading the font on the online catalog photo and the name could actually be Alice or Allie.

** As a nickname for the traditional Elizabeth, Lizzy may not come across as original, but as a given name it is rare. If statistics on nicknames (which are very difficult to track) were available, Lizzy would probably count as down-market, but I can’t prove that and I had to count nicknames as if they were given names.

Insights from Pottery Barn Kid’s Autumn 2010 catalog:

The up-and-coming and original lists are the shortest. Most of the names in the Autumn 2010 catalog were either current or slightly past-peak. In fact, the “down-market” (past-peak) list is the largest (but only by a small margin).

Before dismissing the “up-and-coming Pottery Barn names” theory, I’m going to sample names from 2011, 2012, and 2013 catalogs.

I have some thoughts on why most Pottery Barn names are either current or past-peak, but I will share my theories at the end of the series if the findings from 2010 are also true for 2011, 2012, and 2013.

To be continued…

For further reading, here is a Nameberry reader forum thread from January 2010 that discusses the names from the January 2010 issue, many of which are the same names used in the Autumn 2010 issue: http://nameberry.com/nametalk/threads/73800-Pottery-Barn-Names 

Readers: Why do you think most 2010 Pottery Barn names were current or past-peak?

Image Credit: From the Pottery Barn Kids Summer 2013 Catalog

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  1. […] I learned from part 1, which featured names from the 2010 Autumn catalog, is that most of the names featured on […]

  2. […] installments of this series were: Part 1 which focused on 2010 (Names were examined from the Autumn 2010 catalog) Part 2 which focused on […]

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