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Themes/Being Human: Trend forecasting

Predicting the future is a vital tool for big businesses. There’s a science to it but it’s also a highly creative and fascinating area to work in. Robert introduces you to the world of trend forecasting.

 
Being inquisitive and wondering how and why trends happen could be the start of a career in trend forecasting. Trend forecasters often help big businesses understand what’s going on in the wider world, providing insights and inspiration to companies who need to know that what’s happening on the street today might just work in the shops tomorrow.

What kind of people work in trend forecasting? Trend forecasting agencies work behind the scenes to uncover stories for their clients. To do so they need a wide range of skilled individuals, from designers to journalists, as well as people with a keen sense of culture and an eye for new and exciting things happening. Trend forecasting subjects range from the environment and the economy to society and technology — trends don’t just happen in fashion.

Hard skills needed in this field could include a combination of strong writing, editing, and visual skills. If you’re interested in human behaviour, and enjoy research and the satisfaction of watching trends develop over time, then this is the job for you.

Here are four London-based agencies that cover a range of aspects associated with trend forecasting, from health and money to fashion and colour branding. These examples will introduce you to the range of work that trend forecasters produce and how they communicate their findings and collaborate with brands to shape new ideas, products and concepts. Trend forecasters provide unique insights and intelligence to companies looking to predict and piece together clues from cultures, in order to make something new.

 

Stylus: Innovation, research and advisory

Credit: GIF of images, featuring the ‘Decoded Future Summit’, Stylus reports and behind the scenes shots of the team at work. Images, courtesy of Stylus. Stylus describe themselves as an innovation research and advisory company. Their job is to anticipate changes in the way people live. Their clients include the BBC, Reebok, PepsiCo, Adidas and easyJet. Tessa Mansfield, Chief Creative Officer at Stylus says, “We look at big things like their attitudes to health, money, and relationships, as well as more specific things like the memes they’re sharing online. Pop culture is a big part of this: our clients really want to know what’s happening in the cultural conversation, because the only way they can be more effective in their relationships with consumers is by speaking their language.”

Explore Stylus’ work on their website
Follow Stylus on Instagram

Geraldine Wharry: Fashion forecaster and designer

Credit: Gif of images, featuring inspirational projects from Geraldine’s research: ‘Women of Change’ by Bethany Williams and ‘JustDiggit’, a collaboration between Antoine Peters and Kuyichi. Images, courtesy of Geraldine Wharry.
Geraldine works with style industries. Her clients include Christian Dior as well as Dazed Media, and she also works with Stylus (above). A part of her day-to-day work is dedicated to fashion and accessories brands who need help to make their collections relevant and in touch with the constant evolution of trends. Geraldine says, “I love that in my day-to-day I can jump from close-to-season trends to far-reaching scenarios. Occasionally I consult as a fashion futurist for innovation hacks run by an agency called Hackmasters, which has clients ranging from Ernst & Young to the Dubai Airport.” Check out Geraldine’s trend forecasting guide for a deeper research into the topic. It’s called ‘Fashion Forecasting: Trend Hunting and Gathering’ and is a printed guide, available through her website.

Find out more about Geraldine’s work on her website
Follow Geraldine on Instagram

Colour Hive: Colour and trend consultancy

Credit: Image, courtesy of Colour Hive.
Credit: Colour Hive work in both colour and trend forecasting and analysis. They also run a magazine, called ‘Mix’, that provides intelligent analysis two years in advance of the fashion season. A major part of the work at Colour Hive is to track the global and regional usage of colour trends, to measure the impact of trends over time. They use this material to offer bespoke design strategy, content and marketing for their clients.

Explore the range of Colour Hive’s work on their website
Follow Colour Hive on Twitter

Flamingo: Global strategic insight consultancy

Credit: Screen recording of an insightful Instagram post from Flamingo.
Flamingo understand cultural change, wherever it’s coming from. They create reports and projects to help their clients better connect with culture today, or to plan and create a better tomorrow. They use their casting team to find unusual, niche and leading-edge consumers to find out who is driving trends and what makes them tick. They also use consumer research to test out future-focussed ideas and concepts with everyday shoppers. Flamingo’s Instagram feed is intended to demonstrate their awareness of trends that are not only significant for their clients in and of themselves, but are also indicators of larger cultural shifts that could affect their business in the long term.

Find out more about Flamingo’s projects
Browse Flamingo’s short book, ‘Disruptors 2017’
Follow Flamingo on Instagram, a platform produced by their Futures team

 
Looking for more inspiration?

There are many trend forecast agencies around the world, from the very large WGSN to individuals, like Geraldine, who work with big companies to analyse the present in order to see into the future.
 
Interested in the world of business and trend forecasting?
BA (Hons) Design Management
BA (Hons) Journalism
BA (Hons) Fashion Journalism