Fashion Trend Forecasting: How Brands Predict New Styles
How fashion trend was forecasted? I used to think fashion trend is a joke, because those designers from luxury brand who are on top of the fashion food chain just point the fashion trend as they like. And the rest of us consumers and brand just follow the lead. As more complication and abstract they give, the more so call ‘hight end’ sense were emit. Feel like an Emperor’s New Clothes story.
But after year working on the fashion industry, I feel the fashion is more like a survivorship bias. Every year, huge amount of new style, and new design are coming up, for those who be favorited by consumers and survive finally become the fashion trend. However, some trend that consumer hate would oddly go trendy, for example like the BAZAR bag from BALENZIAGA. Except the small amount of lucky ones would become the trend fashion, rest of the style and design would become the out of vogue.
When a style or design become the fashion trend, the next thing would be endless version of copies, until it go extremely viral and die quietly. And maybe in a random date, it would become the trend again out of no where as what we call ‘retro’. Clunky Sneaker is a good example of retro. Whether people admit or not, ‘Copy’ or even replication is also ways to broadcast the fashion trend.
Usually, those luxury brand won’t bet on just 1 or 2 designers’ talent and aesthetic, sometimes big name would fail awkwardly like the Frakta bag from Balenciaga.
But still, designer like Kim Jones from Dior could always catch up with the trend, why? Actually, the earliest fashion trend forecast could be traced back to 1920s, in a French magazine named La Belle Assemblee from 1828, they issue content about style and design would probably be trendy. And after 190 years, a scientific method for fashion trend forecasting has been developed by Institution like WGSN and Promostyl, and they has become authority in fashion trend forecast. This scientific method has been apply both on fashion design and industrial design.
If we want to give a definition about fashion trend, A fad is a way of life that is widely circulated in a society or a group of people during a period of time, and is an expression of the times. It is a social phenomenon formed when a certain number of people in a certain historical period, driven by a certain consciousness, commonly adopt a certain life behavior, lifestyle or conceptual awareness through the medium of imitation.
A fad include these steps:
(1) Innovation: popular innovators in the innovation phase of the fashion cycle, i.e. the adoption of new styles.
(2) Emergence: fashion leaders and early followers, who step in during the emergence phase of a fad.
(3) Acceptance: mass-market consumers adopt the style when it is in the acceptance phase.
(4) Fading: the late fashion follower, then, adopts the model in his fading phase.
(5) atrophy: individuals who are not connected to the fad or are unresponsive adopt this model only in the recession phase.
Different word could be use to describe fashion trend:
FASHION: Widely popular and relatively long-lasting fad
Vogue: A popular and widespread fad
FAD: Short-term small-scale popularity
CRAZE: Short-term frenzied popularity
So when you see celebrities like Justin Bieber is carrying the fashion trend, in face, celebrities is just the emergence step in this fashion life cycle. They are not in the innovation step, they just amplify the trend. Usually, fashion company would become membership of institution like WGSN to make sure have access to the lasted fashion trend intel. Fashion trend report would include such dimension, color, material, design, style, target audience and lifestyle. But reports like that is not a go-to-market solution, designers and the company would need to adjust the trend with themselves and convert into their own design. Let’s use a quote from Miranda in The Devil Wears Prada to explain and end the topic of fashion trend.
“You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select... I don't know... that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you're trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don't know is that that sweater is not just blue, it's not turquoise. It's not lapis. It's actually cerulean. And you're also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent... wasn't it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it's sort of comical how you think that you've made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you're wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.”