Trend Forecasting: The Basics

Earlier this year I was invited to be a guest on Chick McGee’s “Off The Air” podcast, and they asked me how I know what stuff will be trendy. Every time I’m asked about trend forecasting, I can’t help but think of the scene from The Devil Wears Prada where Miranda Priestly gives a great speech about the influence of fashion trends and the resulting trickle down effect. It’s a great example of the importance of trend forecasting and the trickle down effect. It’s hard to explain exactly how I become aware of and catch on to trends, as I’m not a professional trend forecaster with formulas and spreadsheets, but I do know what I’m talking about most of the time. So, I want to share my approach with you.

Fashion week coverage

Fashion week coverage is the first step to correctly predicting trends. I always make sure to get images from at least four or five standard designers, but to get the best idea of emerging trends, you should view as many collections as possible. What colors, patterns, cuts, drapes, silhouettes, and details appear over and over? Repetition in several different shows can give you a pretty good idea of what will trickle down to your local retail stores.

Influences outside the fashion industry

Fashion is a great indicator of the state of the world around us, so it helps to know what’s going on around you. The fashion industry has a long history of taking visual cues from culture and society. If you created a large timeline of major historical and cultural events — politics, religion, art, music, etc. — and then compared it to a chart of the iconic fashion movements, you would see a direct relationship. 

Fashion trends also often reflect what’s popular in industries like interior design, graphic design, entertainment, and travel. I’m not an expert on these other industries, but I do try to stay aware of the major trends in related, outside industries and look for them in the fashion industry.

Word on the street

Traditionally, couture influences ready-to-wear, which eventually makes it to the average big box store due to the trickle down effect. But with the evolution of streetwear, it’s now popular for designers to look at the cool and absurd on the streets and take inspiration from the remixed fashions found there.

My #1 one trend forecasting tip

Be engaged with your world. Find unique magazines depicting new perspectives. Get out and explore. Find out what people are doing in your part of the world, what spots draw them in, what music they’re listening to, what issues they’re talking about. Then go explore other parts of the wold. Here are three apps that I’ve found helpful:

1) Style.com
2) Snapseed
4) YouTube

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