This is the first post in a series of posts that I will publish in the coming weeks and they are all going to be about one thing: Trends.
Let’s start with the basic question: What are trends? Trends are certain moods, current waves or changes within a community. They can be fashion related, but also concerned with a certain lifestyle and a way of thinking. They can be global or more exclusive. You can detect them but you can’t really measure them. They are all very abstract and it is often hard to put them into words. They can be very short-lived (think fashion trends that change every season, like denim culottes right now) or have a longer lifespan – those are normally more general and global lifestyle trends, like the return to the handmade and the regional.
One thing that can be done as well (and that I find extremely interesting) is to forecast trends. It’s about anticipating future consumer attitudes, deciphering their needs and visualizing future aesthetic preferences. Looking back is important as well, to analyze behaviour and tendencies and how they developed under certain circumstances and to translate that back into the current situation.
The key is to create a unique point of view. Aquiring information is not a problem, decluttering and analysing it is the real challenge. This takes a lot of experience and knowledge and, especially, time. And this is exactly what most designers don’t have. The pressure on them is huge, just like the competition. With every collection, the stakes are high and every new idea is a chance as well as a risk. Professional trend forecasters can help to eliminate some of these risks, by providing a starting point, which will eventually (and hopfully) lead into the right direction.
So who are these forecasters, who works in a trend agency? They can be consultants, stylists and designers, trend spotters/scouts, innovation experts, brand strategists, etc. A variety of people, who cover a variety of topics and try to bring all the different ideas together and find cohesive themes, which make sense and can be understood by the customers.
They find their information and inspiration literally everywhere. It is important that they then find out what is valuable, what willy crystalize out of the rest, what will be a future trend.
The thing is: Technically, anyone can do what they do. It takes practice, time and probably also a certain amount of instinct to know what will work and, ultimately, sell. Especially young desginers have to ask themselves the following questions: Is it better to invest in a good trend book (a real investment, the bigger ones start around 1000€, the magazines you can get for ca. 40-80€) or rather do all the research myself? Use a premade suggestion as a starting point or follow my own intuition? How well do I know my customers, do I even need someone else to tell me in which direction I should head, or is it enough to do what I’ve always done?
All I know is that big companies, chain stores, etc. buy all the trend books from all the publishers, just to be on the safe side. And that is totally visible in the end product: Would you say that H&M is fashion-forward? Not really. They are trendy, certainly, but not innovative. They try to please as many people as possible, to sell as many items as they possibly can. And that is the difference to the young, independent designers, who might not go with a short trend, but listen to long-term moods and embrace those rather than changing their formula season after season.
To wrap this post up, I leave you with a couple of links to trend agencies, books/magazines etc. Some just offer payed services, but other websites are fun to click through. This is just a very short list, they are all some I’ve heard about/ used in college and elsewhere, so I can ‘recommed’ those. The resources seem to be endless, though, there are quite a few good ones and a lot of bad ones out there. If you want to be serious about it, you should definitely do some real research, but these might help you and provide a starting point.
I hope this post was interesting for you and I’m looking forward to next one: Not so much theoretical blabla, but actual trends for the next seaons! Talk to you soon!