3 basic steps for effective fashion forecasting

Written by trend forecaster and designer Geraldine Wharry, known for her Future Trend consultancy based in London. 

To successfully build trend forecasting into your work process, the methodology requires steps. I have listed three basic steps in chronological order with tangible stopping points. Take the below workflow, build it into your practice and then shape it as the fashion world’s needs evolve. 

Step 1: Hunt

Trend experts search and document trends as they surface. They use a mixture of intuition and research. New developments in fashion, design, arts and culture, colour, consumer behaviour, architecture, materials are monitored, as well as the latest in politics, business, science and technology.

The method for Step 1:

+ Key messages emerge.

+ Review your key ideas and update them with new findings.

+ Discuss with other key experts/ brainstorm.

+ See what links and patterns are emerging and take initial notes or write key words as you start an initial mood board.

+ Then start a second round of research where you need more information or feel you are missing facts.

+ Hit your stopping point for your pre-edit once you feel you have researched your topic or market full circle.

+ You have reached a place where you are confident you have researched your topic 360 degrees and can back up your trend forecast with facts and intelligence as well as intuition.

+ You are now ready to streamline your research to the essential messages.

+ What you don’t end up using can be saved for other reports or future season.

Step 2: Identify

The research is edited into key themes. Aesthetic and product trends emerge and are carefully analysed and discussed. This forms what is called Macro Trends or Micro trends depending on how far ahead of time the prediction is set. These are the drivers that will influence design businesses from one to two years in advance, at times more depending on the industry.

The method for Step 2:

+ Content, visuals and facts have been grouped into key concepts.

+ This could also be colour group, product, concept, fabric.

+ These groups are organized coherently and respect your viewpoint and message consistently.

+ And if the results of your findings are very diverse, then explain and back up why.

+ Keep your images and folders organised as trend research compiled means a large amount of content management.

+ Make sure you have saved the credits of your content and fact check.

+ Keep an extras folder for images you are not certain of.

Step 3: Gather

You have assessed your product direction and matched it to your client’s/ audience’s need and delivered actionable trend direction.

Once the key trends have been identified, it is time to show how to apply them to design and product collections specific to womenswear, menswear, childrenswear, sports, accessories and more, with detailed direction on colour, key items, design details, textiles and graphics.

The method for Step 3:

These are the questions you must have answered:

+ Which key products/ touch points have you addressed?

+ What problem(s) are you solving for your client/ audience?

+What is the seasonal preference or time relevance?

+ Opportunities for differentiation and/or parity

+ What are the key product categories?

+ What are the opportunities for updates for best sellers or core items?

+ What are the opportunities for innovation?

The key books to refer to available to you at the British Library are:

The trend forecaster's handbook. Martin Raymond. London, 2010. Laurence King Editions.

Fashion forward. Chelsea Rousso. New York, 2012. Fairchild Publications.

Fashion trends : analysis and forecasting. Eundeok Kim, Ann Marie Fiore and Hyejeong Kim. London, 2013. Berg Publishers.

Fashion forecasting. Evelyn L. Brannon. New York, 2015. Fairchild Publications.

Fashion buying : from trend forecasting to shop floor. Dimitri Koumbis, David Shaw. London 2017. Bloomsbury. 

The dynamics of fashion. Elaine Stone, 1999. Fairchild Books

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