Do Trends Matter: An Outsider's Op-Ed

Courtesy of Fashion-Incubator

By After reading an article in the Wall Street Journal on Spotting the Next Hoodie (sub required) I’m curious if you all follow trends. This article described how the industry of fashion trend watching has gravitated to the streets in an effort to spot the next big thing.

After seeing mostly skinny jeans, which she believes are on their way out, Ms. Job finally spotted a young woman in a T-shirt and high-waisted, straight-legged jeans. The sighting was further confirmation of a trend her colleagues at Worth Global Style Network had already documented on the streets of Scandinavia, Europe and Japan and in stores in Paris and London. “Give it about six weeks,” she said, “and all the New York stores will have them in the windows.”

Ms. Job is one of the fashion industry’s secret weapons. As U.S. editor of WGSN, a fashion-consulting service, she is one of a growing number of third-party researchers who go out into the streets to get an early look at emerging styles and to find out where young people are shopping. A competing service, Doneger Group, has increased the number of employees dedicated to so-called trend spotting by 50% to 120 people in the past five years. The 30-year-old Ms. Job even teaches a class on trend spotting to fashion-merchandising students at Parsons The New School for Design.

If you do watch trends, which kinds? Is it styling, colors, textures, a theme, all or any combination of these? My perception has been that you all pretty much do what you’re going to do, keeping a side glance towards larger market trends. I follow different kinds of trends, demographic and economic mostly and then poke about to see if anyone is meeting the market.

Other than the links I created in the above excerpt, here are some trend resources. Most of these have weekly or monthly newsletters with top picks you can glean for free:

Trendwatching. is a display of amazing intellectual generosity. I don’t know how they make money considering the in depth detail of their freebie newsletter (archived on site). This explains larger cultural consumer trends, changing habits and behaviors. A kind of emerging consumerist convergence culture spin.

JC Report is fashion trends and news (not just fashion). I’m still on the fence and gleaning this one. I’ve only recently subscribed but haven’t found much to excite me.

IQONS is also new to me, a newish portal with a newsletter for designers but I’m not sure how it’s going to go over. It’s kind of like a myspace for fashion designers but I don’t see how real life fashion designers have the time to mess with it. I think it’s mostly wannabes or consumers hoping to rub elbows with real life fashion designers (!).

PSFK is interesting, also intellectually generous as well as providing original analysis. The description of the site reads “a lens of changes in cultural behavior that influence all of us. In a world with unparalleled access to endless content, it’s hard to know where to begin your search for insightful information.” Accurate I’d say. I get lost meandering around in there. Extensive fashion section too.

Here’s an interesting interview with Li Edelkoort, the world famous trend watcher. Regarding new marketing opportunities, she says in part:

We are set for a comeback of the middle market, she says. The public does not understand the prices of big brands anymore and there is room for ideas - companies will have to find ways to get desirable products to the market at a price people can relate to.

…If we lose the ability to make fabrics locally, we will have the same Chinese fabrics every year, become powerless in the market and kill our own expertise. The silk industry is already dying in India, in favour of cheaper polyester imports. There is a challenge to bring back production to our own countries.

She has her own firm with her fingers in some interesting pies but no newsletter that I know of.

Now we come to the old stand-bys starting with California Apparel News. This one is useful for keeping up with fashion market and business trends in LA mostly. According to today’s newsletter, cashmere and dresses continues strongly for fall and buyer attendance has increased significantly. Sub mostly, some free content. I subbed for half price at MAGIC and just got my first issue. In the same vein is the venerable Women’s Wear Daily but that’s subscription only, no free content. I used to sub electronically but then switched over to hard copy which has ended up being a mistake; I read less of it than before and feel guilty about contributing to environmental degradation.

Another apparel industry resource you may not know about is Fiber2Fashion. Big big site and deep too. Boy, with all this reading I’m giving you guys, it’s a wonder you’d have time to do anything else. I get enough complaints as it is that my site is hard to keep up with. I suppose there’s not much question of how I spend much of my time.

The next to last trend resource is my delicious links, my trend section isn’t that good since I don’t use that tag very much preferring to sort them in other categories. My interests (as I said before) are aligned to consumer spending, demography and economics rather than design per se. Another category to look at is my infovore tag. Those are entries I bookmark intending to link to at some point for those infovore posts.

Lastly, you can find all kinds of trend reporting companies on google. Many offer free reports. The number of trend companies out there is just mind boggling. You’d think with all this information available consumers would be happier with product offerings but it doesn’t seem to be happening. I think there’s a negative correlation in there somewhere but maybe that’s just my cynical opinion.

Back to my original question, I’m curious as to how many of you worry about trends, be they color, texture, style, economic or demographic and whether this influences your design decisions? My gut says most of you are forging your own paths to the extent you are able with regard to the affect of trends on fabric choices, but I don’t know for sure.