Forecasting Fashion

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The trends seem to change so fast these days, one minute we are wearing skinny jeans and the next they’ve been “cancelled” and flares are back in! But who decides these trends, and how do they decide? Let’s talk about fashion forecasting.

Fashion forecasting is a method of predicting which trends will be popular based on world events, economic climate, previous trend cycles and the forward thinking of the mood, beliefs and habits of consumers. It is more complex than a few people sitting round a board room table and saying “I think next summer we should all be wearing the colour apricot and be wearing tank tops”. They take into account what is occurring socially, culturally, commercially and what is being felt and said in the group psyche.

While the process does involve looking at emerging designers and trends, what innovations are being developed in textiles, manufacturing and design; it also involves consideration to the changes in colours and styles as well as buying patterns and shifts in the ways of living. A sharp eye for emerging trends as well as plenty of research and customer data analysis forms the foundation for the trends moving forward.

Many forecasting companies are based in Europe, specifically Paris, however there are plenty of smaller forecasting houses setting out their trends for the upcoming seasons. Trends for textiles are forecast as little as 2 years ahead – it allows time for production and manufacturing of the textile before it is turned into garments, homewares or accessories.

Colour forecasting is an integral part of the process, although there is little documentation on it we know it is based around creating “colour stories” which are palettes that are aesthetically pleasing and meet the client where they are. Colour talks so much to our emotions and memories that it is important these things are considered in the forecasting process. Print and textile development is heavily influenced by the colour forecasting. 

Styles are forecast from the mood of the seasons, partially influenced by weather patterns (spring/summer and autumn/winter) but also by the mood of the global seasons, for example whether we are in a hopeful mood looking forward to the future or a retrospective and reminiscent mood reflecting on the past. Other aspects of fashion that are impacted by trend or fashion forecasting are garment details and trims as well as of course which silhouettes will be “on trend”.

There are two levels to forecasting – short term and long term. Short term is based on micro trends for each season, based mostly around colours, current events and pop culture while long term is the macro trends which are the more over-arching feelings and shifts in the industry and world including changes in lifestyle, demographics, buying habits and innovation.

This broad look at what is happening in the world as a whole, while also zooming into the details and key themes of social and cultural shifts is what makes trend forecasting such a magnificent and yet at times overwhelming concept. An experienced forecaster looks at the shifts in industry while considering consumer habits, values and motivation and leaning into the world of innovation and technological advancement – a skill I believe requires much balance, clear vision and a strong sense of intuition.

Forecasting is an insightful tool for designers to know what people want in the upcoming seasons, to create fashion you want and will love to wear, and that is suitable for the world we are moving into. These trends make their way onto the runways and then into our stores and finally onto our backs and down our streets. 

2 thoughts on “Forecasting Fashion

  1. So interesting Grace. I wonder what a post-pandemic fashion forecast will look like?

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