If you thought you were the anti-trend, you better think twice.
The way I see it, Fashion is a multi-billion-dollar industry based on creative minds and made of people who applied a risk factor into their lives to bring on revolutionary thoughts into reality. When I think about fashion, the word “trend” is something that usually takes the lead role whenever I immerse myself in any type of research. What’s the next big trend? What is everyone going to wear this season? But, have you ever stopped to think about who makes those decisions for us? This week, I took the time to go over some research on what, or more precisely WHO is truly behind our fashion choices and why is that we are constantly following some trends even when we do not realize it.
So for starters, it may not be a shock for people that know fashion about the existence of these crucial actors in the industry called “trend forecasters”. I must admit that the first time I heard of them, I thought they had the coolest job in the world, which is still true, but there’s a lot more going on behind what these people do. Without a doubt, trend forecasters are people who are inevitably and constantly observing the latest fashion products, campaigns, and brands’ behavior. I personally like to think of them as analysts, and I was surprised to find out how similar their job is to one that works for instance, in the banking and finance industry. The reason for this, is that fashion trend forecasters don’t just go to the most fabulous fashions shows and sit down to go over their notes to then decide that green is going to be the new black for spring; they actually run data, and HARD data requiring them to see fashion in a more logical way and to give the whole process of forecasting a more scientific approach. Their sources can vary from consumer demographics, emerging country behavior, geopolitics, cultures to celebrities and Instagram influencers.
The best example of a company that dedicates its life to this job is undoubtedly the forecasting giant WGSN, who works with a B2B strategy by which it currently has more than 6,000 subscribers to their insights, letting them get access to more than 70,000 design templates, colors, patterns and a complete database updated to reflect the trends that are coming next season. Their main fashion clients are of course designers, and if you look at it from their perspective, subscribing to a trend forecasting company might sound unappealing on one hand for the fact that they’re going to be jumping into the pool where everything looks kind of the same, or on the other hand take on a real source of inspiration that they know it’s going to sell. According to Carly Stojsic – Trend Forecaster, Insights Specialist and Creative Director for WGSN though, their company is like the artillery for fashion brands, because their job is to recommend their clients and give a more holistic insight into fashion.
Now when it comes to fashion forecasting, connecting the dots involves the management and experimentation with data, but that can’t be the end of the story, right? No matter how perfectly made the algorithm looks and works, there’s always going to be space for the unexpected and for fashion, the door for the unimaginable is always open. This case was applied in the 90’s for example when all forecasters thought denim was dead, that from then to the end of time the only people wearing denim were going to be people in their 70s and up. Everything changed when Tom Ford brought it back with Gucci in a more youthful approach, and against all odds, denim is something that is still on trend even now in 2018. A lot of what comes into a trend forecaster’s job is to be able to use your gut at the right time. Looking at things with calculated risk is important, but beyond data, intuition is the key ingredient in being a forecaster. Quoting Diana Vreeland, “fashion is sometimes about giving people what they didn’t know they wanted”, and part of that comes from intuitive thinking, a lot of research and certainly an intensive use of trial and error to come up with confirmations.
The truth is before WGSN existed, designers would go to buy trend forecasting books to see the latest changes in trends, but the concept of doing it was wrong because, by the time they bought the books, the forecasts were already out of date. Moreover, especially now during this digital age, any type of lifestyle, politic, health or economic factor can influence trends, and a trend can be forecasted from the perspective of the everyday life. I think that is when the anti-trend actor comes into the picture, the one that thinks that fashion is just all about the fluff and insignificant. It kind of reminds me of the scene on the Devil Wears Prada where Miranda Priestley shames on her new assistant for her fashion choice on the blue sweater she was wearing because she didn’t know the whole work that was behind it. Most people that reject fashion trends think of fashion as seamlessly simple, when in reality it is not. What is behind fashion, and precisely the fashion trends that we see every day on the street is more complex than we think and it’s funny how we think we’re not buying into a trend that in itself is a perspective and it’s our story. Trends are a reflection of what happens in the world, and fashion has become an industry that proliferates into so many areas of design and technology that the only way to keep up is to be constantly informed and take part of the hyperculture surrounding us.