Suddenly, it seems, elevated is everywhere all at once.
I’m not talking about elevated trains.
Chicago “L” (for “elevated”) train. Image via Choose Chicago.
The ubiquitous elevated I’m talking about is in JSX’s “elevated inflight experience,” which goes beyond mere physical altitude. It’s “the chicest elevated basics” in menswear: a $425 sweater, a $195 cotton shirt, a $1,195 suede jacket. It’s Lululemon’s “elevated running and training tops” (email, January 28, 2023; Lululemon also sells the Free to Be Elevated bra). It’s the “elevated scents” in “a new kind of food candle” (Business of Beauty email, February 16, 2023; one of those “elevated scents” is called “Pasta Water”). It’s “dressed-up sweats” from AG Jeans: “You’d be surprised how elevated they can look” (email, January 15, 2023). It’s the Spring/Summer 2023 collection from upscale women’s shoe brand Dear Frances: “functional yet elevated.”* (The reference is not, or not only, to high heels.)
“Elevated staples”—woolly, not metallic—from Gentle Herd. (Email, March 31, 2022)
It’s “Salads Elevated,” the tagline of Bread Zeppelin**, a Texas restaurant chain that specializes in baguettes stuffed with raw vegetables. It’s “Elevated Snacking,” the tagline of Charcuter-Me***, a Milwaukee-based charcuterie company. It’s Elevated Rewards, Mountain Hardwear’s loyalty program. It’s also Elevated Rewards, Hilton Hotels’ loyalty program. It’s “Innovation Elevated,” the tagline of too many products, conferences, and corporate training programs to enumerate. It’s the truly egregious Elevated Drip Glowscriptions, a Florida purveyor of cosmetics, body oils, and the like. I can’t decide which part of “Elevated Drip Glowscriptions” I hate the most.
And, inevitably, there are ELEVATED cannabis dispensaries (in California, Colorado, and Montana); ELEVATED SIGNALS (“the new standard for cannabis manufacturing software”): and at least seven ELEVATED SMOKE SHOPs (vape paraphernalia) around the US.
I counted 434 live ELEVATED trademarks in the USPTO registry. The oldest—Elevated Game athletic and casual clothing—was registered in 2002; more than 400 have been registered since 2010. The majority use ELEVATED in English; a handful go for translations: UNNATA aerial yoga (Sanskrit for “elevated”), ELEVEE wine (French), TAKAMI “sushi rooftop experience” (Japanese; the restaurant’s cocktail lounge is called ELEVATE).
Elevated Prohibition: “nutrient fortified nonalcoholic beverages.” One of their products is called Margarita Vibes.
The “elevated” cannabis-related brands aside, many of these “elevated” usages are associated with fashion. I’m not a fashion expert, merely an interested bystander, so I asked style blogger and color consultant Susan Blakey, of Une Femme d’un Certain Age, for insights.
“When I use ‘elevated,’ it means to make something look more polished and intentional, or more ‘finished,’” Susan told me in an email. She added: “ I’ve also seen it used to mean ‘make look more expensive.’ Or just ‘take it to the next level,’ as in ‘holographic polishes to elevate your next manicure.”” She elevated that last comment with a grinning-squinting emoji.
But why now?
I’ll go out on a limb and theorize that we’re seeing a backlash to nearly three years of lazy, slovenly, pandemic-induced goblin mode—Oxford Languages’ word of the year for 2022. We’re tired of twee cottagecore (and maybe all the other -cores), too. We crave a bit of what once would have been called refinement or sophistication, but those words now sound a little, I dunno, elitist? Elevate and elevated, by contrast, sound sporty and sleek—ELEVATE is, in fact, the name of “a premier international esports organization.” When you elevate, you level up—another term borrowed from video games. Maybe you even go to eleven. Eleven isn’t related to elevate, but it sounds close enough.
On the other hand, why not blame Utah?
Back in 2006, the state of Utah chose a new slogan, “Life Elevated.” It replaced “Ski Utah” on license plates.
“You come to Utah to see; you leave with new eyes,” then-Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. said in a press release. “You see vistas like nowhere else on the planet…The result: your emotions are stirred, your senses are lifted. You soar. Your spirits rise. Your life is changed. You are elevated.”
It all sounded, frankly, a little trippy, especially for a conservative state like Utah. But the new slogan caught on—not just in Utah and the West, but nationally—and “elevated” began to get around. (License plates!) By 2010, we saw that surge in trademark filings. And now, 13 years later, we’re in a constant state of elevation. Thanks, Utah!
Hey, it’s a theory. Got one of your own? Leave a comment! And please—keep the tone elevated.
* Dear Frances also uses “hero” as a verb, as in “styles to hero a classic wardrobe.”
** I know, I know.