How Does Fashion Trend Forecasting Work?

Posted on September 10, 2015 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

 Trend forecasting is more complicated than it may initially seem. | BMJ Blog

How Does Trend Forecasting Work?
If you’re like me, you eagerly await the moment the September issue of Vogue hits the stands. For fashion devotees, it’s an exciting time of the year, perhaps because, among other things, it’s shrouded in a little mystery. Although glossies fill us in on the styles of the moment, from mules to “doctor” bags, they rarely (if ever) disclose the origin of those trends—beyond the usual phrases, like “70s-inspired.” Yet somehow, all of the major designers seem to be on similar wavelengths. If wool capes are “in,” then wool capes are flaunted by models on several runways. This leaves us to wonder, how exactly does this happen?

What’s in a design?

The best clothing designers are certainly capable of creating a beautiful, on-trend collection on their own. A senior designer may visit galleries, museums, and observe what other stores are offering and then create mood boards to help guide her designs for the season.

It’s increasingly common, however, for designers to consult WGSN, a fashion trend forecaster whose slogan is “Create Tomorrow,” or its property, Stylesight. With 75,000 subscribers, over half of which are designers, WGSN is the leading fashion forecasting service.

However a designer does her research, trend predicting services are undeniably handy when she must prove to her directors that her designs have commercial viability.

Fashion forecasting: The larger picture

Generally speaking, fashion forecasting involves predicting patterns, prints, colors, fabrics, graphics, textures, accessories, and beauty looks that will dominate the runways and major department stores. It extends to all areas of fashion—from haute couture to street style to mass market.

How Does Trend Forecasting Work? | BMJ Blog

Trend forecasting on Editd.

Julia Fowler, co-founder of Editd, another fashion forecasting service, clarifies that the best trend predicting is less about intuition and more about real-time data (or near real-time data) based on the financial market analysis. The goal of any forecasting service is to compile and organize this data so that it’s readily available for their clients.

The leading fashion forecasting services offer more than trend prediction, however. WGSN boasts 65,000 items in its colors and patterns library. Lauren Sherman of Fashionista explains why we may see such similar styles on the runways during a particular season:

“It’s romantic to think that all fashion lines dream up new patterns every season, but it doesn’t happen much outside of ready-to-wear. Brands will even send designers out to buy competitors’ pieces so that they can copy a popular pattern. It’s not a pretty aspect of the industry.”

Naturally, this raises questions about the room for creativity and artistic integrity, but many fashion houses and designers are mute on the matter. But even Sandra Halliday, WGSN’s editor in chief, argues that data and forecasting shouldn’t completely rule designs: “Fashion thrives on the unexpected.” Perhaps this also sensed by the consumer—the hint of magic felt at cracking open the September issue, the renewed inspiration for all things sartorial.


Photo: Fred Baby via Flickr

Posted in fashion, fashion forecasting, style, trend forecasting, trends



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