Trend forecasting

Thought

Trend forecasting is an are of fashion business that in my opinion isn’t appreciate as much as it should be, in Finland. Through trend forecasting services, businesses can find the strategic window for their business endeavors. Fashion is a business driven by change and knowing where that change is headed is a key element of surviving in the business.

Trend forecasters don’t decide what will be the trends for a season. They analyze the current zeigeist, how it’s going to develop in the future and how it will be translated into trends. Consumers feel inclined to buy apparel that somehow connects with the zeitgeist (Blumer 1969). This is the basis of trend formation. Trend is determined by what the majority of population buys and wears.

In modern day, trends can be formed by three different theories: trickle-down, trickle-up and trickle-across. Trickle-up is the oldest one of the theories. In trickle-up, trends are first adopted by the high social classes and spread there through the different social classes, until it reaches the low social class. In trickle-up, the trends are first introduced by the low social classes and start to spread from there to other social classes. In trickle-across, the trend is simultaneously introduced to and adapted by all social classes. The affects of trickle-across can be seen in mass-marketing; products are manufactured and marketed for different social groups simultaneously.

Trends

Before the birth of ready-to-wear industry, trends spread by trickle-down theory. This was the time when fashion houses dictated the trends of the season. But the birth of ready-to-wear industry created more factors into fashion business. Up until the 70s, trends mainly spread by trickle-down, which made trend forecasting easier. Nowadays trends can arise from anywhere. This has created more challenges for trend forecasting.

As trends can arise from anywhere, observing the major fashion houses newest collections isn’t enough to determine the trends of the future seasons. Besides, whether a fashion house’s collection succeeds is determined by how well it fits the zeitgeist. This was why Dior’s New Look was so successful in the 50’s. Dior’s New Look fit the needs of women to feel feminine again; the fashion had been regulated due to shortage and the appropriateness of war time.

In order to make accurate trend forecasts, one needs to understand the zeitgeist. Which is difficult as the trend forecaster needs to objectively analyze the spirit of their own time. Understanding the dominating events, social groups, ideals, attitudes and technology help the forecasters understand the zeitgeist (Brannon 2012). Comparing these factors to past zetgeists can help understand how the fashion will develop in the future. Trend forecasts spend their time collecting information about the developments in politics, fashion industry, technology, economy and other fields, analyzing the deeper meanings behind those developments and translating them into forecasts about future trends.

The forecasts are divided into long term and short term forecasts. Long term forecasts are aimed at seasons over 2 years away. Businesses use these forecasts for decisions regarding re-positioning, re-branding, extending product lines and planning new stores. Short term forecasts are are aimed at seasons under 2 years away and are used for inventory management, marketing, product development and product positioning. As the seasons draw closer, the long term forecasts become more distinctive with the additional data and transform into short term forecasts.

Trends aren’t just limited to fashion business. The zeitgeist affects the buying behavior of consumers across all categories. Through the help of trend forecasters businesses can expect the changes in the market and react accordingly.

Sources:

Blumer, H. 1969. Fshion: from class differentiation to collective selection. International encycloperdia of the social sciences. 341-345. New York: Macmillian

Brannon, E. 2012. Fashion forecasting. 3rd edition. New York: Fairchild Books

Window display for Maru Second Hand & Outlet

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As a part of Visual Marketing course in JAMK, we had to design and create a window display for a store. It didn’t matter what kind of products the store sold, but as I am in the fashion class I wanted our store to be a fashion store. This week we created our window display. For the project, we decided to go with Maru Second Hand & Outlet.

Maru is run by three of my seniors in JAMK. Neea Takala, Iiris Nokka and Janita Mikkola study in JAMK’s Team Academy. They took over Maru as a project related to their studies. As the name suggests, Maru sells both second hand and outlet products. They give a second chance for clothes with a story. You can read more about Maru in their website (finnish).

A window display’s role is to give passing by consumers an idea of a store and lure them in for more. It’s a tool of visual marketing. There by, a window display needs to match the image of a store. A window display that gives a misleading image of a store may lure people in, but will also have them making a U-turn at the door.

In order to create a window display that embodied Maru as a store, we researched them online, visited the store and interviewed Neea Takala. Through the interview, we got a deeper understanding of what kind of an image Maru wants to convey of themselves and how they create their window displays. Through analyzing the information given to us, the trends of the season and Maru’s display of the time, we created our concept for our display. This weekend will be mother’s day in Finland, so we decided to have mother’s day as our theme.

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Trends behind the design – Pause (pictures from WGSN)
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Trends behind the design – Edgelands (pictures form WGSN)

Maru has used decorations made out of newspaper in their display. We wanted to continue on with that theme. As our theme was mother’s day, we decided to create roses out of newspaper and book pages. It embodies the image of Maru: we’re giving a second chance for newspapers and disregarded books, as decorations. They’ll be appreciated again in the hands of a new owner. This also fits the trend forecasts of WGSN for the current and up coming seasons.

We kept in mind the spirit of re-using and giving a new purpose in our decorations. We bought glass vases from a flea market, got shoe boxes and covered them in paper pages and dried some branches to create decorations.

We chose the products for the window display based on our theme, current trends and Maru as a store. In our interview, Miss Takala mentioned that they would like to emphasize that they have both outlet and second hand items. They want to give an image of a high class second hand store. They also wanted to advertise the fact that they have items for both women and men. As Maru’s products change constantly, we went to choose the products for the display the day before the installation.

Maru

Maru has different types of mannequins available. In order to create a visually dynamic display, we decided to go with mannequins of similar style. This limited the amount of mannequins in the display to 2 female ones. We also tried to add a male mannequin to the display as Maru had expressed the fact that they wanted to advertise their male selection. However, we couldn’t balance the said mannequin to the display. Instead we styled it according to our theme and placed it at the entrance.

As a detail in the display, we added a mother’s day card and gifts on a table. This also created a funcional display setting for the YO ZEN jewellery that Maru has in their selection. We also displayed some of YO ZEN earrings on a mannequin. These choices were based on Maru’s wishes to advertise the said brand.

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Maru’s display – Before
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Maru’s display – After
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Maru’s display – details
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Maru’s display – details

All in all, I enjoyed creating the display. If I had the chance, I would’ve improved the lighting to make it pop out more. I also would’ve loved to include the male mannequin to the display. The addition of the male mannequin would’ve created a whole different setting and answered to our clients wishes better.

Trip to Tokyo – Harajuku

Japan has always been on my bucket list. This year I finally had the chance to visit the country with two of my friends. It wasn’t an ideal time for me to take a trip, but I decided to go regardless. I’m not sure when I’ll get the next opportunity to visit the country. I did all my April deadliness before hand in order to go. I like to think the trip as my summer vacation; I’ll be busy with both school and work throughout the summer.

We spend the entire 2 weeks in Tokyo. It might seem like more than enough time to explore one city, but we only got to see a portion of Tokyo. We rented an apartment from Minato-ku, which we later on learned to be one of the fanciest areas of Tokyo. Not something a person on student budget wants to hear, but regardless we were very pleased with the place.

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For the first few days we went according to a plan in order to see some of the places on our list, but after that we started meeting up with the locals. Due to this we got to see some places we would’ve never found on our own. It also made ordering food and interacting with other locals a lot easier. Japanese are taught English since elementary school, but they generally don’t know the language regardless as they don’t need it in their everyday lives.

My number one spot to visit was Harajuku. Harajuku is one of the fashion districts of Tokyo. There people go dressed in their street styles as opposed to the suit culture that is domain in most of Tokyo. A lot of photographers and scouts also go to Harajuku to shoot these looks and in a search for models. I had been planning what to wear to Harajuku for a while, as I do whenever I’m excited about something.

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The streets are surrounded by fashion stores of different quality. Takeshita street is one of the main spots in Harajuku. It is mainly lined with mid-priced clothing stores, eateries, cafes and boutiques. Most of the businesses are aimed towards young people. From all the places we went to in Harajuku, the Takeshita street was the most crowded. We got to test out purikura machines for the first time at Takeshita street.

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Omotesando is another one of the big fashion streets in Harajuku. Unlike Takeshita street, it’s not just for pedestrians. The walk paths and traffic are separated by a line of trees. The street runs straight for about a kilometer and it was interesting to see the large mass of people constantly walking on the street. While we were walking on the street, a hair stylist looking for models stopped us, because he wanted me to act as a hair model for him. It would’ve been an interesting experience, but sadly our schedules didn’t match up.

Another street to see in Harajuku is the Cat street. The street is located right by the Omotesando street. It’s lined with high quality street fashion stores. Unfortunately most of the stores don’t suit my budget at this time in my life. As much as I’d love to buy designer clothes, I’d rather eat.

I feel like our trip was very fashion centered. Both of the friends I was traveling with have graduated as clothing artisans last year, so we’re all in fashion business. We also ended up meeting up and talking with a lot of people from the business. One of my favorite nights was when we met up with a model and went to his friend’s fashion store in the Cat street to hang out.