Trend forecasting is a complicated but useful way to look at past sales or market growth, determine possible trends from that data and use the information to extrapolate what could happen in the future. Marketing experts typically use trend forecasting to help determine potential future sales growth. Many areas of a business can use forecasting, and examining the concept as it relates to sales and can help you gain an understanding of this strategy.
In terms of fashion, Trend forecasting in fashion is the technique of predicting buying habits and moods of the consumers. It includes the prediction or forecasting of colours, fabrics, textures, and various other styles that are going to be presented on the runway and will be in the stores for the upcoming seasons.
In short, Trend forecasting is the act of shaping a picture of what the future might look like for the business, based on what has gone on in the past.
Fashion forecasting is trend-driven and not fad-driven. It, thus, makes a tall order for the fashion forecasters to know if something is a mere flash in the pan or if something is worthwhile and there to stay in for long!
Short-term: This is used by merchandisers, production managers or product developers to generate style directions and to shape collections. Most apparel companies these days subscribe to the services which easily provides them with reports of developments in colour, textiles, and various style directions.
Long-term: Long-term forecasting is usually done for upcoming two or more years. This kind of forecasting is generally used by executives for corporate planning, and by marketing, managers to position their products in the marketplace while observing the competition.
Importance of trend forecasting in fashion
Forecasting is an operative word in the retail world, for the very foundation of it is built and cemented by it. A successful fashion business is dictated by viability and appeal. So, what you see on the runway isn't just instinctual but real. A designer's collection would be a complete whimper if he/she misses on key pieces or season choices; a far cry from the bang he/she had anticipated. We just couldn't agree more with Karl Lagerfeld who remarked, "There's no fashion if nobody buys it."
Timing is associated with a designer's or brand's success, and this is where fashion forecasting assumes a decisive role.
Be it a merchandiser, designer, buyer, retail executive or anyone involved in this capricious business of fashion, if he/she loses his mojo, they lose everything. While riding on the statistical data alone may seem normal (and it doesn't necessarily spell success), the real trick is about considering variables, and not basing your assumptions on a singular factor.
Despite fashion being a ubiquitous phenomenon, it is not same for all. What appeals to the population in the United States may not go well with the aesthetic sensibilities of those in Asia. Hence, trends are modified as they reach different parts of the world.
The actual process of Fashion Forecasting is a time-consuming career that requires months of research before the next fall and spring and so on. Many times, forecasters will start predicting within five to ten years in advance (depending on the company). Without our forecasters, the corporations or designers they work for would find themselves at a loss. No one would know what to look for, what the public will be looking for, and what will sell in the upcoming seasons.
How did this trend forecasting tradition start?
Let’s go back to the year 1924! By then the world had already understood that the success lies in the ability to predict the trends and predict them accurately.
The history began with the chemical revolution and the ability to create fabrics that don’t fade. The French recognized the potential and created the so-called colour cards to manage the boom of the new emerging colours. However, during and after World War I the cards were unobtainable and the American fashion industry struggled until the arrival of Margaret Hayden Rorke. She was America’s first professional colour forecaster. Rorke was responsible for monthly newsletters, colour bulletins and publishing forecasts to help her male colleagues in manufacturing and retailing and understanding what women expected of fashion.
Subsequently, other forecasting pioneers were born such as Edward Bernays, the father of public relations, and TobéColler Davies (known as ‘Miss Tobé’), the founder of trend forecasting Tobé reports. Trend forecasting became even more important after World War II!
Organizations working in Trend Forecasting
WGSN (formerly known as Worth Global Style Network) is the world’s best-known trend forecasting company of parent organisation Ascential. WGSN was founded in 1998 in West London by brothers Julian and Marc Worth.
They define what’s next, so people can make smarter decisions today. Their global trend forecasters and data scientists obsessively decode the future to provide the authoritative view on tomorrow. With experts in every major continent they build locally sourced, globally relevant content including daily trend intelligence, retail analytics, consumer insights and bespoke consultancy services.
Another leading forecasting company, F-Trend is the authority for news and trends in the world of fashion, and retail. Featuring daily headlines and breaking news for members. f-trend.com provides the most comprehensive coverage anywhere of fashion trend, and retail news and is the leading destination for all fashion week updates and show reviews from New York, Paris, Milan and London, Delhi, Mumbai, Shanghai, Tokyo.
Indian Designer Gaurav Jai Gupta contributes to Trend Forecasting and more
The Designer, Gaurav Jai Gupta, trained at Chelsea College of Art and Design London in Woven Textiles and National Institute of Fashion Technology Delhi in Fashion. He makes clothes, accessories and products for interior spaces which are all hand woven and sustainable. His approach towards his work and commitment to revive appreciation for contemporary Indian textiles has earned him both critical acclaim and a list of high-profile customers with in U.K. with likes of, Jimmy Choo.
He was also invited to co-curate and exhibit at London Calling in Tokyo on the commemoration of 150 years of British and Japanese Friendship in October 2008, the same was inaugurated by legendry designer Jimmy Choo in Tokyo. Following this he was asked by Jimmy Choo to design a fabric for a pair of sling back. Gaurav was also commissioned by the prestigious Central Saint Martins London as a trend forecaster from Delhi in 2006 for PREVIEW.
Importance of Trend Forecasting for Brands and Design Houses
If fashion did not have forecasting it is possible that the industry would be consistently failing due to lack of knowledge on what people will actually want.
Without knowing what the public is looking for the designers, stores, and their sales forecasters will not know what the people want and what will sell. A no fashion forecasting scenario to picture is this; your favourite store is desperately trying to figure out what to purchase for the upcoming fall and winter seasons, their sales forecasting team has seen designers use Ugg boots, riding boots, leather boots, and suede boots. Without knowing what the public wants all the designers use completely different fashions leaving the stores scrambling for the popular or “in” choice. The forecasting team takes a wild guess and orders leather boots in bulk; however, it turns out the public was more interested in suede. This leads the store to lose money, thus hurting our economy and potentially taking away our favourite stores. With fashion forecasting in the mix the designers would have all incorporated suede boots in one way or another, therefore the stores would have known what the public was looking to purchase. To conclude, fashion is more than what we put on our backs and without the process of forecasting the industry will not be able to provide what the consumer is looking for.
From the IKF Desk on what do you know about trend forecasting?
In the past, it was easy to predict the trends of the moment. Fashion forecasters would make their way to the bi-yearly catwalk shows. They would then wait to spot the most important looks designed by the fashion houses whose job was to set the agenda when they unveiled their collections.
Since the arrival of the internet, things have now changed and fashion trend forecasting has become a more democratic affair. The traditional lofty trend forecasters have been replaced by a plethora of influencers on Instagram and broadcasters on YouTube, who all relay information via their gadget of choice, the humble mobile phone. What do you think? Is today’s fashion forecasting even justified?