When you walk into a store, you can usually tell what colors, patterns, and styles are trending. But designer beware. If you’re designing clothes just by following the trends that you see around you, you’ll have a hard time producing products in time to compete with other labels.
Everyone wants to be the first to start a new fashion trend, but there is a lot more to forecasting fashion trends than colors or cuts. Forecasting and predicting fashion trends helps designers avoid playing catch up, and getting stuck with unsold merchandise that’s out of style by the time it arrives in-store.
So, how do you predict fashion trends? Well, before we talk about forecasting fashion trends we need to understand what a trend is. There are many definitions of a trend, which can make it confusing, but a good definition of a trend is something that caters to the desire, needs, or values of a group that is a majority. The definition of a trend matters because there are actually four different types of fashion trends:
If a trend is something that is only popular or acceptable for a period of time, it doesn’t encompass all the four different types of a trend that a design can be. Each of those has its own timeline of adoption and expiration.
A Mega trend is one triggered by a major change or event that happens. Mega trends include shifting economic power, resource security, technological breakthroughs, social change, and rapid urbanization. Because these are large changing events there is no time frame for megatrend duration.
A macro trend is an off branch of a mega trend and can last anywhere from 5 to 10+ years. Sustainability is a macro trend.
A micro trend is an off branch of a macro trend and can last around 2-5 years – deep indigo denim is an example of a micro trend – while a fad is a wide popular interest that can last around 1 year or less. For example, apparel prints of avocados. Understanding the different types of trends will help you analyze your market and better forecast.
Fashion forecasting involves studying and looking at:
Studying and looking at world events and consumer impacts may not seem like something that impacts fashion trends, but these events will determine what customers want to see in fashion and want to wear. For example, Covid-19 is a world event, a mega trend. Now, fashionable masks are something that many designers, at every level, are creating as a result.
You can certainly do your own studying and research to forecast, but there are also trend forecasting agencies with analyses you can rely on, such as: WGSN, Peclers Paris, Promostyle, Trendwatching, Trendchecker, and Fashionsnoops. Each agency will be a little different in how they present trend information; some may give more art and photos then others for example, so you will need to see which agency works best for you. You will still have to study the information, but all the research heavy lifting will be done. A lot of the forecasting agencies will have a forecast of trends a couple of years out so you will be able to get an idea of what’s next to come. You’ll want to start your trend forecast at least a fashion season ahead of your current one.
Whether or not you analyze and research for trends yourself, when looking at the information you need to remain objective. The trends that come may not be to your taste, but to get an accurate forecast you will need to look at everything. It will be your decision how to incorporate (or not incorporate) the trends. Not everyone will fit your label’s style and aesthetic look.
With practice you will master trend forecasting, but once you get it down you will have a much easier time achieving successful sales with your designs.