WHO DECIDES WHAT IS "IN" TOMORROW? OR: HOW TRENDS DEVELOP
Have you ever wondered how fashion trends actually emerge?
Who decides what are the must-haves for the next season?
And what does it depend on for a trend to prevail?
Contrary to what many assume, trends are rarely conceived in the design studio. They first reveal themselves in everyday life. However, it takes a certain flair to recognise them.
Designers, fashion institutes and trend bureaus hire so-called trend scouts or trend researchers, people who are on the go detecting new trends. They do this in the streets as well as in fashion blogs. Often, also, influences from art and architecture play a role in the emergence of trends.
Trend scouts investigate and identify the very latest consumer interests and tastes because fashionable new trends are exciting for the market and they’re also an important economic motor.
Accurate observation is a must-have skill for these trend analysts. As professional forecasters, they must be able to spot new directions and draw conclusions about future changes and developments. They have a unique talent for singling out a topic just as it emerges on the periphery and then nailing it down as a trend. They don’t create anything new; they just pinpoint and name a phenomenon that has the makings of a popular new trend at a very early stage.
The trend scouts’ collective observations are bundled in so-called style guides, which provide the fashion designers inspiration for new cuts, fabrics and colours in their collections.
Applying their own signature styles, designers create their own interpretations of these newly discovered observations and integrate them into their collections.
Even in the world of colour, new trends are constantly being created. In fact, the world-famous “colour of the year” award by the paint-industry’s Pantone Color Institute has become an established trend-forecasting highlight for designers and marketers in many different fields. The victorious colour is determined through an extensive selection process, described by Pantone as: "combing the world in search of colour influences". Cultural touchstones from art and entertainment as well as new directions in travel, technology and society are gathered and put under the microscope. A new colour highlight is distilled from this pot-pourri of influences.
Current world events are a major driver of consumer behaviour and deeply affect colour directions. Following the World Trade Center attack in 2001, for example, the entire US-colour sensibility led to darker preferences. And climate change debates are steering the growing popularity of earthy shades like coffee brown, light green, water blue or grey.
Once a trend has made it to the international catwalks, it is celebrated by the media. As soon as fashion magazines and bloggers report about it, the breakthrough has been made, and it doesn’t take much time for the trend to reach the masses. Well-known fashion chains implement the catwalk trends for their stores and make them accessible for everyone.
On average, it takes about two years before a newly discovered trend from the street can be seen on the catwalks before it finally returns to the streets as a recognisable fashion style.
All trend research and spotting aside though, ultimately, it’s the consumers who determine the success of a trend. Nevertheless, individual tastes aside, the media and the available high-street colour range still hold powerful sway over popular opinion. So if fashion stores are flaunting a particularly large number of blue items this season, chances are, we’ll pick up one or two pieces in exactly that shade.
And before it gets boring, it's time for the next trend...