02/27/2017 by

Marketing does not work anymore. Customer service is extinct. Cool has turned uncool. Trend are dead and in the words of Li Edelkoort’s Anti Fashion Manifesto “Fashion is old Fashioned.”

So where does that leave designers, brands and retailers in the modern marketplace? Right now, the fashion system and traditional models of business are in upheaval or revolution depending on your point of view. From entities like making moves into bricks and mortar and luxury leaders like Burberry successfully going seasonless with collections. It’s easy to ask if trend forecasting is even relevant or accurate anymore?

To answer, more than ever, companies can benefit from insider knowledge and predictions that can make or break their business in realtime.

Firstly, trend forecasts are created in advance of the market and can speak to micro or macro elements of culture & design. The idea with observing and utilizing forecasts is not simply to follow the direction of the intel but to interpret it for best use for your client, use and occasion in mind. Many global fashion brands invest in the same trend reports as mass market retailers to ensure differentiation from ranges at a perceived lower level of the consumer chain and price point. Even WGSN, the world’s largest forecasting company lists both Nike and Adidas as clients, two companies in direct competition, both known in active sport as leaders in innovation. If you don’t want your label to feature similar colourways, fabrics and graphic elements, you have to be in the know about what the general stream of style will be for season’s ahead.

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Secondly, Trend forecasting is the information that often times represents the creative niche or innovation injection of a brand’s overall offering. This is this key aspect that sets it apart from competitors in their space against staples styles or experiences that consumers can buy or partake in from any other brand. For instance, If you produce and successfully sell black, white and grey sweatshirts season after season, what is it about the next season’s hoodie that will inspire new clients to convert to your brand? Could it be the fabric technology, a new store layout or packaging element that leaves an impression on the overall purchase? Trend information presents a wealth of ideas to incorporate vertically into your brand experience, helping you make a statement in a sea of sameness.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly for the bottom line, trend information can be an enhancement of both cost and time savings from the design studio to the retail floor. For small to medium enterprises, trend reports can seem like a big upfront expense. For the price of travelling to a tradeshow to collect and compile your own data and research, you could probably buy yourself day's worth of time and thousands in product or concept development. When you purchase digital subscriptions or trend reports, they only need to yield a handful of bestseller ideas in order to pay for the rest of the information that remains usable as cutting edge inspiration. Trend forecasting is the creative insurance of the fashion industry. When you have a season, category or story that is underperforming, referencing material that can refresh your positioning becomes invaluable.

In reality, every fashion company wants to be lauded and recognized at the forefront of their peers for new ideas. The behind the scenes of how entities arrive there is rarely a topic of consideration. Trade secrets, technology and timeliness are the currency of trend forecasting. Bankrupt or buoyant, the ongoing option to value your brand for the future is there for the taking.  

Emily Miller Palmquist is the founder of EMP Creative a trend consultancy based in Toronto, Ontario and can be found at