Identifying future trends and factoring these into the next cycle of product design and development used to be a relative structured exercise. Runway shows scheduled according to a fixed calendar would provide the templates and themes a full year in advance, leaving designers and buyers the task of translating those pillars into products and collections that would chime with their target demographic.

Today, trend is truly universal, and totally seasonless. From street style feeds to individual influencers, the ability to shape the future of fashion has been democratised. And instead of being relatively predictable, trend is now reactive – running minute to minute, and shedding even the ghost of a concrete calendar.

Needless to say, keeping a finger on the pulse of fashion is an impossible task for the traditional, intuition-driven trend analysis approach. There are simply too many variables, all changing constantly, for brands and retailers to have any hope of keeping up without turning to new sources and solutions.

In this world, what is the role of the trend service provider? What used to be something of an art – with expert predictors earning recognition – could potentially become yet another data science discipline. Are brands and retailers willing to trust machine learning models to make trend recommendations?

The Interline will examine all this and more at the start of 2021, when we kick off the new year with a detailed look at what effective trend analysis looks like, and what role technology plays in making it possible in today’s always-on world.

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