So you are probably saying to yourself [if you are a trend predictor] that either you don’t make mistakes, or that there can’t be many. Well of course when you are starting out there will always be a few but these things can be tuned over time. Eventually you’ll learn where to look, what not to be fooled by and how to spot the minor trends that will become bigger. But as a newbie to trend prediction or forecasting, these mistakes are expected. However, there is 1 big mistake that I see even the most experienced forecasters making on occasion.
STYLING VS TREND
Now every season on the catwalk, every trend prediction company, every trade show, every designer and every retailer have exactly the same pieces of information available to them. With trend prediction books or websites and catwalks there will be a popular colour palette. Lets use the one for Pump. This is then sportswear trend I predicted last year that would be huge for SS13.
Now some companies will use this palette and call it sporty, others because there is a strong relaxed feel and jersey fabric influence may assume it has more of a Grecian feeling and others will simply add it to a pure summery floral palette of sweet innocent A line skirts and plain relaxed tops. Even looking at this palette by itself to me could even apply to a 70’s theme of graphic Ts and washed out coloured denim.The colour palette remains constant but the application varies completely between each one, so how do we know which one to follow?
Now when you look at a colour palette like this, there of course will be many prediction companies with this palette but with their own changes on the colours here and there, the really important thing to consider is the images and shapes they put along side the palette. This is the styling element of trend prediction.
Well here is where I find some predictors fall a little short. When looking at prediction it is really important to look at ALL of the sources you have available but consider each element separately. The palette is one, shape is another, theme another and so on.
This is the problem with styling. It happens on the catwalks and in retail shops too. A few seasons ago DSquared produced a collection for AW11 that even though it had all the leather, denim, tailoring, long fur-trimmed coats and check fabric elements predicted for the season, just by adding some hats and gloves, they styled it to look very much like a wild west based theme.
Now this of course I’m sure was deliberate and the overall theme that DSquared was going for AW11, but as a trend predictor, this was nothing more than styling. A few people jumped on the fringing assuming it was an innovator stage trend but they had forgotten to look across the board. Yes there was a little fringing in a couple of other designers work, but no it was not significant enough to even be an innovator stage trend and a couple of seasons later I was left saying I told you so….
The important thing to remember for any trend prediction is to go wide, assess everything and remember to separate the elements. Don’t be swayed by styling. Just look at what you have in front of you.
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So here is your homework. If you are looking to develop your skills, go and look at the most recent set of catwalk collection photos. These will be all over the internet so go and have a look through them. Is there anything that you can see there that is just styling? Still not sure? Well compare and contrast. What are the similarities you can see between collections? Is there a common theme that you can see running through them? Does one have something really irregular that the others don’t?
It can be hard, but don’t be discouraged. Keep practicing and you’ll soon be able to spot them at a quick glance. Leave me a comment below to tell me what season’s collections you are looking at and if you’ve found any styling.
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