How a Trend Forecaster Navigates NYFW
By: Aaron Royce
Fashion's ever-changing landscape means new roles are always on the horizon. One of the most unique roles in fashion is trend forecasting. If you've wondered how fashion trends are chosen and move from runways to retail within the year, it was the work of a trend forecaster.
During fashion week, these forecasters attend shows and presentations to determine which trends will be popular next season. This knowledge influences not only the industry at large but purchases shoppers make months from now, as they determine why particular products will be bought. "It goes so much deeper than analyzing trends," says Kendall Becker, a fashion forecaster for Ross Stores, Inc. "We pick up on consumer behaviors and how people integrate fashion into their lives, which takes that knowledge and intuition even further."
Forecasters like Becker have their work cut out for them during fashion week. Time in-office is spent on immediate projects, ranging from image pulls to creating trend boards, for current seasons. Attending shows or presentations aid in planning for the next. Becker says the key to forecaster's fashion week is having a well-rounded schedule with a mixture of talent. "You have to mix established names with emerging designers, who are bringing fresh ideas to fashion," she says. "Inspiration is everywhere, so I don't believe in discounting brands if, for example, they have smaller followings or aren't as buzzed-about." Having a big-picture mindset is another advantage Becker has realized while on the job. "I truly feel at home in the season-ahead mindset Fashion Week provokes; it proves an intriguing challenge I don't deal with on the daily," she says.
A typical day for Becker involves a busy office and events schedule-which had more runway shows than presentations this season. "Every day is different," says Becker, who analyzed data to see how trends performed in real life and looked online and in real-time attendees for styling ideas, as part of her day-to-day tasks. One activity is creating Instagram Story recaps of trends she saw at shows like Chiara Boni, Claudia Li, or Dennis Basso. "I'll add my recaps to a Google Doc of takeaways from shows I attended. In-between events, I check social media and Vogue Runway for updates and trends I should look for." Evenings are spent event-hopping to support NYFW participant brands, like Olfactory NYC and Modilize.
Once fashion week hits day 7, Becker goes through her show notes and listed trends. When common themes or similarities appear, she'll make condensed reports and send them to her team. "It's critical to keep in mind which markets new trends will be important for," she says of fall trends like suiting, monochromatic leathers, and asymmetrical tailoring, "and how we think it will be worn and so on."
February's NYFW was especially filled with new talents. While attending shows this season, Becker kept an open-minded view of themes, colors, and evolutions throughout collections. Two of her standouts were Claudia Li and Linder's fall shows. "Linder did a great job of color- and print-blocking this season with red and tie-dyes, and it's 70's Americana was very of-the-moment," she says. "Claudia Li's mod aesthetic was very prevalent, and the berry colors and faux furs she used will be huge this year." Suffice to say the limelight given to smaller brands made a significant impact this season. Thanks to forecasters like Becker, we'll be anticipating fall trends as the fashion industry undergoes seismic changes this year.
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