Internet and the rapid spread of social media and hyper connectivity has bombarded trend information from every corner of the world weather it is on blogs, websites, Facebook pages or as visual inspirations pinned on Pinterest. The information is sometimes just too much to absorb and it needs trained human minds to transform these diverse influences into tangible inspirations, resulting in a booming trend forecasting business worth over $ 36 billion.
Every trend forecaster agrees that ‘the Internet’ is the most powerful tool influencing fashion today. Jaana Jaytri, Founder, Trendstop.com, an online trend forecasting service, is very forthcoming in saying, “Now that the world of fashion is connected online – fashion suppliers, manufacturers, designers and brands require the latest trends at a moment’s notice, which only the Internet can provide. At no other time in history have brands, designers and consumers had such direct access to fashion trends, and we’re seeing how this information is directly influencing the number of collections coming from each of the retailers or designers.”
Supporting the thought, Fiona Jenvey, CEO, Mudpie, an international authority on the supply of trend intelligence and design consultancy to the apparel, textiles and creative industries adds, “The most obvious change in fashion forecasting is the move from printed trend material to online trend presentations. Mudpie have seen impressive growth in our online service over the past 3 years (67% in 2011). The availability of real-time data, online has created huge changes in trend forecasting, making local trends global and at the same time helping global brands gain greater understanding of local cultures.”
While online trends have their own set of pros with information available easy and cheap to most of the companies, it also has its own set of cons as they can be confusing because of the sheer volume of information. Therefore, it is also important for designers and product development teams to use the forecast as only inspirations to design something with an individualistic interpretation. Fiona suggests that companies should use trend forecasting to better understand their customer and to differentiate their product, not simply create versions of existing inspirations. She adds, “It is precisely this ‘copy’ approach that has created competitive and unsustainable prices.”
Lidewij Edelkoort, one of the world’s most renowned trend forecasters in a recent trend letter on her blog writes, “Certainly things have changed, and are even changing while I type. The days of only four major fashion trends are definitely over.” As the world has become increasingly vast, open and communicative, within the realms of these realities it is trying its best to remain individualistic, gathering inspirations from Olympics, green revolution, natural disasters, riots and even the Apocalypse 2012. Encompassing every possible aspect of life which remains relevant to some lifestyle group or another, almost everything today holds the potential of becoming significant elements to be considered while designing for a targeted consumer base. This recognition of growing influences that can impact fashion has resulted in the ever increasing number of ‘seasons’ in the yearly fashion cycle, which Fashion Forward Trends recently shared with Apparel Online range from Valentine’s Day, Earth Day, the festival of Easter and Christmas, to global issues such as breast cancer and AIDS.
There are now as many as 22 defined retail seasons in the global market of fashion proving that inspirations today cannot be restricted to fixed numbers, with limited colour palettes and a traditional client profile. This has further led to an increasing number of collections that are developed in a year, which was once restricted to 4 to 8 now going up to 16 to 20. As each themes require a different design approach, the need to bring a new product, a new style and a new colour into the stores in shorter time spans that are as short as two weeks, is making trend forecasting an even more relevant tool in order to stay ahead of the trend curve.
Edelkoort believes that the complexity of a global market that is breastfed by local ideas and initiatives is only growing stronger, making forecasting a challenging profession. It is important to analyze the positive changes in society, economy and politics, and to listen to young people’s wishes to change direction.
Acknowledging that trend forecasting is no longer generic, but very country, buyer and market specific, Mayank Mohindra, CEO of Fashion Forward Trends says, “It is difficult for shippers to decide on the most targeted forecast available in the market which best suits their needs and while the bigger players can afford to experiment with huge teams, the small and medium level exporters wants very targeted information to create collections for his buyers.” He adds, “It cannot be denied that exporters can no longer grow by only offering manufacturing capabilities, so it is important to make collections to be preferred suppliers, but based on what is the question.”
Fashion Forward Trends was initiated with the aim of providing Indian exporters with focused information, based on Indian capabilities and resources to create collections in line with international trends and seasons. “We are dipping into the vast and deep information pool to bring exporters’ forecasts that match with their buyer profiles,” concludes Mayank.