“If you don’t understand something you should study it…” – Miuccia Prada
Fashion or style, it is not something you are born with or not. It is, as anything else in this world, something that can be learned. Fashion is the way to express ourselves. It gives us the power to choose how we want to be perceived: a worker, a serious person, a careless teenager, a student, a politician or a Rihanna fan. Although in previous decades fashion was “communicated” mainly to express one’s ranking, status or power, nowadays it is more about self-expression, values and uniqueness.
Fashion is not constant and it always changes. The factors influencing its direction depend on season, needs of society and lifestyle changes. For example, pants evolved in early 1800’s when women wanted to ride bicycle, or skirts may get longer for winter season. Therefore, fashion moves in a direction and that direction can be defined as trend.
How is a fashion trend set?
Now we all remember famous scene from Devil Wears Prada when Miranda Priestly schools Andy on how her “lumpy blue sweater” was chosen specifically for her in the same room two years ago?
As Miranda says, Andy “tries to tell the world that she’s taking herself too seriously to care what she puts on her back…” when in fact the “cerulean” blue trend was set two years earlier by Oscar de la Renta, then filtered down to retail stores.
Lindsay Mayer, the founder of Shipshaw said: “Every season, there are hundreds of designers showing breathtaking collections that the average consumer will never see. What does matter is who sees them—the in-house designers and buyers at fast fashion retailers, people who are paying close attention, identifying and predicting which styles, patterns and cuts will appeal to the average woman”.
But even before the trend hits the runway, how is it, in first place, being recognized as a trend before any Miranda-like editor knows about it?
It turns out there is a career called fashion forecasters, people in fashion industry responsible for recognizing the trend. Their work must be done far ahead of “consumer buying period” and thus their success depends on their ability to read the coming trends of colors and style, as well as materials, prints, footwear, accessories, etc. These “trend-casters” scan current events, sports, art and even technology in order to recognize new trends. Some companies, such as Forever 21, have their own trendsetting departments and thus have advantage over the ones that do not have.
World’s leading trend forecasting agency WGSN have professional data scientists to build trend intelligence, retail analytics, and consumer insights for retail clothing companies. Sheila Aimette of WGSN explains that trend can be recognized from the simplest events: for example, an idea in a small art gallery exhibit can be the next print seen in every designer’s collection next year. But in this case there pops up a question on how can all the designers be inspired from the same noteworthy art exhibition? How can this trend stretch globally in no time? Or how do the trend-casters decide the particular trend will still be relevant so far in future?
According to WGSN, every year trend experts with different backgrounds – culture, art, marketing – meet to discuss their discoveries. They look closely to the changes in the art, music, science, technology, they are explicitly aware of economic and social factors, they vaguely analyze the streetsyles and festivals-all in order to understand what is next to come and what will be the direction for next season. This huge information flow is documented daily seeking to discover emerging trends. They spot famous streetstyle stars: “It starts popping up more, then it becomes reimagined, then you see it walk down the runway,” Aimette said, “and soon, everyone’s wearing it.” Technological developments are also taken into account that impact emerging raw materials.
After all the research has been gathered, usually at the end of June, the trend is being set: three to four themes are identified. At this stage, designers also see the major highlights within trends. And as in the last decades the focus of big luxury clothing firms shifted from the product to profitability, designers are most influenced by trends that are commercially successful and will result in higher sales and revenue.
The next step is to apply the trend to fashion. Researchers can predict that designers, for example, will be fascinated with botany as a result of bio-dynamic trend, and will use tropical prints.
In the light of the social events, 2017 brought up the themes of feminism and gender equality and thus evolved into the color pink as a fashion trend and as a postmodern statement of gender equality. And also, for the reason of “who doesn’t love pink”. From pale blush to shocking bright pink, the color is “the new black” now.
Trend-forecasters’ team creates a lookbook with prints and colors and fabric recommendation for designers and retailers and thus, the trend hits the runway. With the help of internet and social media, in a matter of weeks, it reaches average customers. Here, consumer magazines and websites play a huge role in delivering current trends and fashion news to public.
Who are fashion trend influencers?
Runways: Nowadays, most of the current trends are inspired by fashion’s “Big Four” capitals’ looks sent from the runway. While a great deal of looks filters down into mass production, Fashion Week shows also include many couture pieces – made to fit only one person’s body.
Streetstyle: This term is comparably new and refers to everyday looks that are seen on the streets. Streetstyle influences trends as people are more inclined to follow “everyday persons” and because these “streetstyle looks” are easy to recreate. Some of the latest streetstyle trends are shown below.
Celebrities: There is no doubt celebrities have a huge impact on fashion trends. Due to their huge fan base, they have a bigger reach than fashion magazines. Fans often copy their style and always keep their eyes on them to see what they wear and what is popular. For instance, now everybody’s favorite Manolo Blahnik shoes weren’t really into the game until their debut in Sex and The City and Sarah Jessica Parker’s incorporation of those shoes in her real life.
Fashion Bloggers: Over the last years, the influence of fashion bloggers grew so big that often designers turn to them to ask them promote their products. Fashion bloggers are definitely trend-setters for their niches. Let’s take a look at a huge military style trend set by world-famous blogger Chiara Ferragni:
After that, the trend emerged and was a hit in 2014.