Fashion Forecasting: How Brands predict new styles and Why it is Imperative for your Brand?
Have you ever wondered how every brand makes it possible to understand and implement seasonal trends?
In this post, we will run you down on what Fashion Forecasting is, how brands predict styles and why Fashion Forecasting is crucial for your brand along with the actionable tips for you to succeed?
With the evolution of the fashion industry, the way we look at trends has also been changed. Gone are the days, when trend forecasters used to gather insights by traveling to fashion capitals around the world to discover fashion trends.
However, such customs are still followed but to a very small extent, because technical advancements and online fashion retail has given consumers 24/7 access to the digital marketing in fashion industry, and as a consequence, the way to predict fashion and forecasting trends have also changed.
What is Fashion Forecasting
“Fashions change like leaves on the bough, some of which go and other come”
– Dante Alighieri
But how does it be decided what would be the upcoming thing in fashion and what is ‘hot’ and what is ‘not’?
And who concludes what is going to be the most fashionable trend?
The answer, of course, lies behind Fashion Forecasting, also known as Trend Forecasting.
It’s a process of researching and forming predictions on future buying habits, which involves the intact monitoring of market trends and buying habits to make effective decisions on how to move forward for designing a new collection.
Trend forecasting encompasses the trends in silhouettes, design details, colors, fabrics, and trims. The forecasters study and evaluate how the social, cultural, or any environmental shifts are anticipated to influence future consumer behavior.
Consequently, the process assists in identifying products and services that consumers will be looking to buy.
Fashion trend forecasting is generally done for the autumn/winter and spring/summer fashion collections. Fashion forecasters also offer views on Long-term forecasting and Short-term forecasting.
What is a Long-Term Trend Forecasting?
Long-term forecasting resonates with the macro trends covering the major shifts in a fashion, which will be applicable for more than two years. This forecasting could entail big-picture trends that determine the fashion business, such as the variations in demographics, lifestyle, and the way clothes are made and sold.
Hence, adequate long-term forecasting not merely demands a finger on the pulse of current events, but also requires a deep knowledge of the internal functioning of the fashion industry.
What is a Short-Term Trend Forecasting?
Short-term forecasting relates to micro-trends, which change from season to season and typically focus on the color, style, and the impact of current events and pop culture.
Fashion forecasters will spend a lot of time scrutinizing the colors that are in trend, and blend that knowledge with the latest products coming out of the fabric houses to make decisions regarding color and texture.
What an experienced forecaster does.
An expert forecaster leverages methodologies and techniques comprising qualitative analysis and interviews in order to reveal forecasts for products and services.
They refer to the information concerning:
- Variations in consumer interests, values, and motivation
- Findings in science and technology
- Changes in the economic, cultural, and social sphere
- Shifts in robust demographics
- Shifts in industry and market internal structures
The usual process of Fashion forecasting has five major stages:
Researching: This primary stage involves conducting a fishing expedition in sync with deep investigation from various sources and places, to garner fresh findings, best ideas, and identifying possible trends.
Sorting: After due research, editing and filtering is done for the collected data following the determining design and patterns from accumulated data, samples, and images follow further.
Analyzing: In this stage, the experts evaluate and scrutinize the problems, key factors, and potential results of the upcoming trends. Acknowledging what, why, and how a specific trend is gaining popularity and how it will take its shape.
Predicting: Now is the right time to forecast possible trends and justify them with relevant sources, data, and facts.
Communicating: Once the predictions are made, the forecasters now deliver their outputs, thoughts, and opinions in the form of illustrations, storyboards, and presentations.
However, owing to the omnipresence of technology, there has been a seismic shift in trend forecasting. Social Media Marketing Services live-streamed collections are tangibly changing the way fashion moves throughout society.
Setting fashion trends is no longer the game of designers alone; young influencers on Instagram, fashion bloggers, and street celebrities are also considered as the prime contributing elements.
How Brands Forecasts Fashion Trends
Typically, every brand follows a unique trend forecasting process. To exemplify, womenswear brands are usually more inclined towards micro trend interpretation in contrast to the menswear brands because of the larger volume of collections per year.
- Leveraging in-house trend forecasters
The vertically integrated eminent fashion giants often execute in-house fashion trend forecasting. This process enables their fashion forecasters to work in collaboration with their product development teams to produce new products.
- Hiring a Fashion Forecasting agency
Brands that are not vertically integrated usually leverage the expertise of trend forecasting agencies, which are working with some of the world’s greatest brands and retailers to pioneer the future of fashion forecasting by scouting trends at the street level.
- Garnering insights from renowned fashion shows
Analyzing fashion runway shows, trade shows, and magazines’ information is the ideal way for fashion brands and agencies to forecast fashion trends.
Trend forecasters usually perform most of their studies at fashion shows, where they observe the most appealing looks, and then bring that information from the catwalk to the product developers and fashion magazines such as Vogue. This is known as “top-down” forecasting and complements the way fashion trends run down from fashion runways to high street brand stores.
- By analyzing fashion influencers
Trend forecasters are more inclined to follow influencers, street styles, and blogs for insights on the latest trends, and this is known as “bottom-up” forecasting, which entails close monitoring of the target market to prophesy demand for future trends.
- By viewing other industries data
Small scale or independent fashion designers usually emphasize creating mood boards based on art, film, and nature to stimulate their unique collections while staying away from trend forecasting on the whole.
Techniques leveraged for Fashion Forecasting?
The combination of “top-down” and “bottom-up” forecasting mostly used by the contemporary Fashion Forecasters along with the familiarity of the fashion view and own intuition to produce forecasts about the future of fashion.
Recognizing what has ‘sparked’ a consumer trend is considered a good offset. There are common ways for a trend to take its place such as new technology or fabric innovation, a ‘Pendulum swing’ or a ‘Fashion cycle’.
Pendulum Swing is a movement where fashion swings from its utmost point to the other. As soon as a fashion reaches its extreme, the pendulum begins to swing back towards an opposite trend.
A strong pendulum swing for the Pants & Jeans is a paragon for this.
Back in 2013 and 2014, skinny pants, tight cuffs, or fitted pants were in style from streets to the runway.
However, in 2015 -2016, we’ve seen a transformation in the pant structure. The pants have got straight, towards a boot cut.
Going forward towards 2018, the pants style starts getting wider at the cuff. Flared jeans, Palazzo pants, and Fuller pants started showing up at the runways and across the globe.
Now we can see the fashion swing pushing this flared bottom to its extreme. This is a trend which will be in style for some time.
While an exciting evolution with this style was the change in waistline, which is currently on its own pendulum swing. Back in 2011, the waistline dropped low and remained in the trend for a quite long time. Since 2015 it has been seen the waistline rise back to the natural waist and now it creeps higher up to the empire waistline.
The flared bottom & the rising waistline are both running towards their extreme level in their fashion cycle. This is the new wave of style.
While fashion and Interior trends can also be cyclical. Cyclical fashion theory by James Laver states that when a style is neglected for some time it becomes ripe for revival.
Now, what if you have identified a trend?
Well, after the trend identification, one can hypothesize the impact and length of a trend via a certain set of available tools and tactics.
A ‘product diffusion curve’ or ‘innovation curve’ created in the 1960s by Everett M Rogers, for example, is a representation of the innovation spread through a social system.
This curve represents the vertical axis for numbers of adopters and a horizontal axis for time. This tool can be used to indicate how customers go through the process of adopting a specific trend. One can track the adoption pace of a trend in order to forecast consumer interest for a specific trend.
To exemplify, there have been various fabric developments such as ECONYL and REPREVE. And it was skeptical for a swimwear brand to inherit or innovate a recycled plastic bikini range. However, on the contrary, such fabric choices are widely embraced by many Outdoor, Activewear, and Swimwear brands for a range of their products.
Actionable tips for your brand forecasting
Identifying a Fashion Trend entails constant efforts of compiling observations. It demands curiosity and a keen interest in various subjects from art and design.
Despite gathering facts, personal intuition, and perception for “what’s next”, which unfortunately is more of a natural phenomenon and can’t be taught or necessarily explained.
Hence, I’ve garnered a few actionable tips to assist you in trend forecasting for your brand.
Analyze from where your customers are getting inspired
The stats suggest that Americans check their smartphones about 80 times a day, and the average consumer checks their phone about every 12 minutes.” In the contemporary market, mobile phones are where people are getting influenced and inspired. Meaning that the internet, especially Social Media is an excellent platform to spot ongoing trends for a better comprehension of what could be predicted adequately for the near future.
Examine your Customers’ Psychographics
Given that your audience is likely interacting online, it’s time to be precise.
Although marketers are usually concerned with knowing the demographics, yet it is extremely vital to dive deeper and understand the psychographics.
Look into the aspects to find out what your audience is listening to, what social media apps they frequently use, which influencers they follow, and which videos they’re sharing. Knowing how your consumer thinks and what they follow, will give you a comprehensive insight about what they want to wear now and in the future.
With the advent of technology, the customer’s speed to the market has changed. There were times when people used to rely on runway shows and wait for months to get a design. However, the contemporary audience wants it now. Hence you should be proactive and updated by seeking and analyzing the current trends and customer inclination.
Focus on the Conversion
“The consumer has an 8-second attention span, less than that of a goldfish, which has a 9-second attention span”.
So, it’s a hard thing to get someone’s attention.
But how do you cut through the noise and drive sales? With continual engagement and via high-quality content.
Leverage Visual Consumption
Inevitably, the current audience is visual and certainly, your visuals must connect with them. The consumer used to love real, unedited photos, but the trend has changed. Now it’s all about filtered and awesome images.
Leverage the insights to know the kind of visuals your audience likes so you can produce relevant videos, photos, and content to captivate them and increase your sales.
Leverage the power of technology
The Internet has offered countless possibilities to leverage technology for spotting trends. Exceptional visual recognition apps are providing brands and retailers an exciting radical approach for shoppers to find their products. Therefore, stay up to date on what’s happening in technology and how it can serve you and your audience.
Monitor the Collective Voice
The technology-driven customers are very much inspired by what their peers else are doing. It’s the reason why the social media posts that already have a lot of likes, tend to get more likes (people are simply doing what other people are doing).
Your consumers are being programmed as to what they’re going to like, what they’re going to buy via this collective voice. But the good news is, you can discover this collective voice, over the internet. Employ your relevant hashtags on Instagram and determine what your target customer is liking, sharing, and saying. And you’ll be able to speak their language, and sell them the products they want now—and in the future.
Fashion Trends indicate the growing needs of the consumer, and as a brand, you can bank on their potential for turning a profit.
With a meticulous understanding of customer shifts and trend predictions, your brands can both keep bad product choices at the bay and capture market opportunities at the same time.
However, it’s vital to recognize the reason for the trend rather than what the trend is. The perception of why consumers are inclined towards certain silhouettes or colors offers a broader understanding of the fashion market so that you can produce exclusive design and buying decisions for your own brand.
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