Did you know that trend forecasting is a real job? While it may conjure up images of a stylish soothsayer peering into a crystal ball, it’s actually big business for fashion companies to pay people to predict upcoming trends. However, a very real debate is raging right now about the nature of the practice. Some fashion insiders say it should be based strictly on data, while others assert it’s all about instinct.
In an article in this week’s New York Times, designer-turned-tech-startup-maven Julia Fowler argues that the nature of modern trend forecasting should be based on strict analysis of economic data, and nothing more. She runs the U.K.-based Editd, a consulting firm that culls information from social media networks like Twitter, apparel and accessories sales, and even comments from consumers online to determine not only what is popular in fashion now, but what will be the next big thing. Their clients include mega-retailers like Gap, Target, ASOS, and more.
In the opposing corner, you have old school fashionistas like Harvey Nichols fashion director Paula Reed, who argues that “a magpie instinct and a sixth sense are still the best tools in the unending quest for the next thing,” and Sarah Rutson, the fashion director of Hong Kong-based brand Lane Crawford (and bonafide street style star) who says “A lot of the time it is about genuine gut instinct. Maybe a trend didn’t work before, but this time you know it is right for now. There might not be data to tell you what to do, but you just instinctively know it will be strong and it’s absolutely worth the perceived risk to get behind it.”
So what say you? Should fashion trend forecasting be about crunching numbers or relying upon less mathematical but more creative methods? Vote below! And afterwards, head over to the Times to read the story in its entirety!