This is Part 2 of a 4 part post on the 9 Sources of Trend Prediction. If you haven’t read part one of this article and you would like to, you can click here: PART 1
3: ALL IN ONES: WGSN
For those of you in fashion already, you may have heard of a website and company called the Worth Global Style Network or WGSN for short. It’s really an all-encompassing site covering reports on the fashion industry, catwalk reports for all major and minor fashion weeks, city buying reports, all trade show events, news on the movement of fashion brands and designers, market share information and of course, trend information for each product area. This is a vast area, including accessories, swimwear, underwear and shoes, with all product areas covered such as skirts and tops and some specific information on specialist areas of knitwear and denim. They also cover mens, womens, and various age ranges for children. As if that wasn’t enough, they provide graphics information, print reports and provide available downloads of garment designs, prints and design elements that will be on trend.
Now this might all seem like a fantastic resource and before you go running to open another internet page to buy an account [actually you can’t do it online, you have to speak to a representative] there really are some points to cover.
Firstly the average account password is around £2000 per year. Now to be fair it has been a long time since I’ve used WGSN so this may have changed, although I doubt they have made it any cheaper. Secondly, the trend predictions, like any other really are a matter of opinion and it is up to you to customize the information for your own customer and market.
WHO DOES IT HELP
Now the thing as I’ve mentioned preciously is that any organisation [and WGSN is a dominating and vast one] that covers a very wide area of information will never do any small area justice. Is it true that they will have specialized designers creating the trends and downloads? Yes, but having been approached by another slightly smaller company to draw flat drawings for their own version of this, I can tell you that I doubt that all of the information is coming from those who are the best people to be giving it. I myself have seen some of the content and I can tell you that as a starting base (if you have that kind of money to splash around) is good, but it’s just that. A starting point!
At this point I should add that WGSN is not just for designers. If you are a buyer or Merchandiser, you might find some of the financial and retail based reports useful. WGSN covers all types of business reports across the world and for all markets.
Even though WGSN is a large organisation, you will still have to tailor and develop all of the information to suit your fashion brand. You’ll be offered downloads of product designs, but if you are a designer worth anything, you’ll want to design your own products. You’ll still have to tweak your colour palettes. So really, other than the information in one place, I’m not sure what the point is? There are much cheaper and effective ways of getting this basic information and if you have to tweak it anyway, I’d rather get the cheaper version.
When I was a young graduate, I loved WGSN. I spent hours downloading all of the stuff from it, working through all of the content and lapping it all up. I still have a few of the fills and brushes they supplied for illustrator. My general dislike grew and grew when as I got more experienced. I could tell when I walked into a shop where that print had come from, how the colour combinations had been inspired and more shockingly, when I was looking at the real life version, of a drawing I saw on one of the WGSN trend pages. Even as a young and inexperienced designer, the thought of just downloading something and claiming it as mine, was a really big injustice to design.
Big design brands use this site, which will allow hundreds of designers to have access to this information. My issue is that WGSN provides good, but not specific information and makes access so easy, that there will be some who download the suggestion template for garments and just get those items made, with no effort in designing their own. As a designer I think this is the worst crime in design. It’s no better than those who basically copy a catwalk dress that they saw on Vogue.
WGSN makes it far too easy for those with either no talent or who can’t actually think for themselves, to produce clothing designs. If you are one of them, [which I am hoping you are not] this site is perfect for you, but I would question whether you should have a clothing line.
My recommendation is this. If you want it, there is a lot there, but don’t view it as a one stop shop and assume your job is done. It is no different from any other design source.
4: TREND PREDICTION BOOKS
Trend prediction books and magazines are very different beasts. The magazines are the ones you can pick up in some larger book stores [and we’ll cover these in Part 3], whereas the books would need to be purchased directly from the trend company ( and this includes stands at trade shows etc ) or through a specialist agency or bookshop.They are also large heavy books that are either hard backed or ring bound, but generally an A3 size or something a lot larger than A4. There are many companies that provide this service, but if you are looking for examples, Promostyl show you inside their books on their website.
Both magazines and books are a little more affordable than something like WGSN, but are not exactly cheap. Trend books will set you back on average around £600 per book. They are specialist, so you would have one book dedicated to knits, one to casual bottoms, one to colours and so on….. so if you are covering many product areas, you would need multiple books plus the trend book itself. So it actually works out far more expensive, bearing in mind that each book only covers one season.
They are usually bought by large retailers who have many different departments and many different product designers, where the cost, by comparison is worth it. However, if you have a specific fashion brand or clothing line, that specializes in one type of product, like knitwear or streetwear, the cost of the information will be definitely worth it.
WHAT DO I GET & IS IT WORTH IT
Now these books basically contain a range of sketches and flat drawings for suggestions, grouped around themes. They will also provide a colour palette [like the WGSN one above] and maybe a one page introduction to the trend and a range of fabrics that are physically stuck into the book for you to touch.
Now this sounds all very lovely and to be fair there are a large number of trend prediction companies who do this. If you find that you have one product area to look at and if you have found one particular company that you like, this method can be affordable, just. I have to say with respect to them, I have worked for a number of companies who have found specific companies to have brilliant information for their particular customer market and have just stuck with them because of that snug as a glove, fit. Fantastic. But bear in mind you will need to try a number of companies before that happens and you many run the risk of never finding one at all, or even worse, wasting a number of seasons with bad (for your market) information.
My concern is that you are narrowing your field of information. If you trust one particular company and you have found that their information is very much aligned with you and your market, then it can be very worthwhile. However, it can be dangerous to take one opinion for granted without looking at as many sources of information possible. I am very much a believer that you cannot rely on any one source and the only true way you will be able to really develop your own and see real trends through all of the fluff, will be to see everything first. Go wide and then narrow. Don’t start narrow and stay there with your fingers crossed.
5: TREND PREDICTION SEMINARS
This one will be brief, because the concept is very simple. You pay money to go and sit in a room with a really large slide show of various trend information whilst someone explains the slides to you.
Now I’ve been to many and I have really not much positive to say. And here is why.
For the time you are investing in going, it’s an expensive couple of hours (if it’s a paid one) Oh yes I thought of a positive. Ok so sometimes when you go to Trade shows, they will put on fashion shows or seminars with at least one person covering trends. These are free and are covered by the trade show. There we go. I do try to be as equal as possible.
Now apart from the expense and the fact that it would be quicker for me to stay at home and read the information, you can’t record them. It’s generally frowned upon [even though everyone does it] and to be honest even if it was allowed you will never pick up any kind of sound quality because you will always be guaranteed to be next to or in front of someone whispering very loudly, distorting your recording.
My last point is that they are done by either jack of all trade companies like WGSN or any of the trend book companies. So for exactly the same reasons as above, it really is up to you and your situation whether they will be even the slightest bit useful.
If you haven’t read the other parts, then click below to read on:
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