The future of Trend Forecasting
So where is the future of trend forecasting heading towards? This is what we will we have a look at in this post, as it will be the last post in the series about trends and trend forecasting. On with our fashion goggles, and let us look into the crystal ball of fortune telling of trend forecasting.
As we talked about the business of trend forecasting in our previous post, where we discussed the role of trend agencies as constituting themselves as inspirational fashion opinion leaders, we will now look at the next transition for fashion forecasting, and what will perhaps happen to these agencies.
“As things have evolved, we’ve moved into the four-season approach, then into drops and the whole nature of forecasting, I think, has gone out of the window.”
– Marc Worth, Founder of WGSN.
Above Marc Worth, founder of WGSN, talks about how we have gone from a traditional fashion cycle to now a meltdown of seasons, trends and fashion in general – with social media being the mega game changer here. But if the future of fashion, and hereby trend forecasting ”has gone out of the window” then what eligibility do the business of trend forecasting then hold, as well as the actual value? Surely there is still a need of trend experts and market analysts dissecting consumer data and crushing numbers, but the tangible and visual service many fashion brands used to receive from the trend agencies, they can now dig up in their own backyard via Social Media Influencers, following the stream of ‘Likes’, and get to know where their followers are heading – right here and right now.
And just like with celebrities, as we know them from ‘the old days’, the new generation of Social Media Celebs have a reach that makes it crucial to observe them, as they quite simply have the power to dictate trends because of their popularity and reach to millions of potential consumers. We have previously spoken about how a trend needed validation in order to ‘live’. Validation from someone with 30 m followers, like for instance Cara Delevingne, has a certain impact.
“This is the end of fashion, as we know it.” – Li Edelkoort
Also in that context, Li Edelkoort, Trend Forecasting Icon & Founder of Studio Edelkoort, proclaimed last year that fashion is dead in her anti_fashion manifesto; a manifest stating the fashion system as being incompetent, greedy, obsolete, shallow – and without a vision. With the statements above, we can begin to perceive an emerging tendency – a coalition with a meltdown of the fashion system, and social media bringing this about with the ’like’ generation, fashion bloggers and the speediness of time, and hereby trends. Here the ’Like’ generation and fashion bloggers are being accused of being some sort of catalyst for emerging trends going about, without having a solid fundament, or taste per se, or even an understanding of quality regarding fashion.
There’s a lot of truth in the criticism, and no doubt that Generation Z doesn’t have the same sophisticated and multidirectional fashion understanding as someone with 15 years of experience. But then; who’s fashion for, and who understands the needs the best? Yes, we’re dying when we see Saint Laurent doing rock chic again. We have lived with rock chic for 15 years. We feel really tired. But the young people love it! Fashion will always change, as it will always reflect society at large (a world we have created for the youngsters by the way!), and it will always be driven by the young generation.
So with fashion-fatigue and online information overload, fashion trend forecasting will have to change. And maybe this is quite okay too – that the trend forecasting will turn more and more to the customers. The crowd that is being used in so many other situations e.g. jobs, funding etc. hold an incredible value, are willing to interact, and trends can be seen in real time. Actually this year, Trendtablet, Li Edelkoort’s social media platform, announced a new way of creating trend forecasts with the concept Together. It’s a cooperative trend report for Summer 18 that she will make with the public, and it will be accessible and free of charge on Trendtablet. How exciting! This is the very first time a well-acclaimed trend agency reach out for the public in such a way and could very well be the future way of doing business – simply co-creation at its best! If you have any ideas for what Summer 18 will bring, you should definitely check it out. It’s a good way to get hands-on practise exploring the future of fashion.
Pondering further on the future scenarios of trend forecasting, one thing comes to mind, and that is that technology indeed has changed our world and still does. Perhaps the future brings trend forecasting robots into play, or maybe not an actual robot, but in any case Artificial Intelligence that would make the human factor superfluous. To be honest, we really do love the personal and human touch on design, art and fashion, and we’re not sure, we think this new solution is ‘sexier’, but it’s at least interesting. If algorithms crawling the net were measuring yellow, boho, post-communism, as well as who it was mentioned by (influencer vs. normal person vs. Generation Z), location etc., it would be possible to track trends without human confusion, limitations and biases.
Companies are starting to use this in marketing, and instead of making outcome estimations based on Likes and Followers, they now use more sophisticated software measuring anything from consumer confidence to inflation to trends and taste. Quite interesting!
Trend forecasting is still a relatively new business form, even though today many companies rely on trend experts to help grow their market share. The beauty of future fashion trend forecasting is in the eye of the beholder, even if the fashion system is obsolete, and this will bring major changes within the system. Trends will still continue to flourish bringing on a new way of perceiving, creating, and experiencing the world – as perhaps the method itself. It’s just the way we as human race evolve and expand.