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Trend forecasting: methods behind the madness

Trends control the fashion industry! Every item of clothing you wear, every style that influences you, every time you see someone wearing something and you decide to copy that style… it all comes from trend forecasting.

However original we think we may be with our fashion choices I can guarantee you someone else is wearing the exact same thing. I hate to say it (because I for one think my fashion choices are, on occasion, authentic), but the role of trend forecasting is a biggy in our fashion lives. Trends (however much we might not want them to) control us!

Trend Forecasting: A Definition

So what is trend forecasting I hear you ask? Essentially we are all, to a slight degree, trend forecasters. In simple terms, it is noticing colours, shapes, patterns and more in everyday life. It’s spotting these things on more than one occasion. Whether that be in the street, on the catwalk or (in today’s society) on social media.

Basically, trend forecasting is just observation after observation after observation. Every trend has its roots somewhere in history. For the majority of the time, a trend that has been picked up has usually come from decades before.

For some it may seem like trends are plucked from thin air. All of a sudden, everyone has similar style, similar items of clothing, similar accessories. And we all think to ourselves: how is this person next to me on the tube dressed exactly the same as me? Well trends are the reason for all of it.

However, even though we could say we are all trend forecasters to some extent, trend forecasting is not just down to looking at clothes.

It’s Not Just About the Looks

What we may not realise is that there is actually a lot of psychology behind trend forecasting. Socio-economic changes, weather changes and even archaeological changes (to name a few) all contribute to the trends we see.

With a constantly, fast paced, changing fashion industry with high consumer demand, trends are constantly predicted. Even years in advance, trend forecasters know what the trend for Summer 2022 will be.

The role of a forecaster is to analyse the movement of the market, look for patterns in consumer behaviour and find the ‘red thread’ that unifies a collection of sometimes seemingly disparate ideas that will form the basis of the ‘next big thing’. For many forecasters, that ‘red thread’ is often the weather which is why we have Spring/Summer/Autumn/Winter collections.

Where to Find Trends

If you’re looking to be a forecaster yourself but don’t know where to start, below is some of the starting places:

1. Catwalks

Catwalks are a great place to pick up on the latest trends. Designers show their Fall/Winter collections at Fashion Week in February and their Spring/Summer collections in September. This back to front structure may seem strange to many people. Winter clothes are shown in the beginning of spring and summer are shown at the beginning of winter.

However, these catwalk shows are predicting the next big trends. the collections shown in February are showing the trends for next winter and the collections shown in September are showing the trends for next summer. So, in short, catwalks predict and show consumers trends nearly a whole year in advance. And, us lucky consumers get full access to this with more and more catwalks being shown online!

2. Press Days

Unfortunately, not everyone can get easy access to a press day (they are usually just for PR’s and journalists). But, without these press days, the primary advertisers for trends would not know what to help us out with. Press days help journalists gain an insight into upcoming trends so that us consumers can be fully informed months in advance.

3. All around us, of course!

Street style is one of the most popular trends of all time and we get this from just walking the streets and noticing people’s clothing choices. Early adopters such as influencers and celebrities also help us notice these trends and we can see this in every day life. With social media so instant and available, we see new trends and styles every hour of every day.

According to Jane Monnington Boddy (Trend Forecasting Director at WGSN), ‘an influencer will post something on social media, like Kylie Jenner will wear something on Instagram, and two days later, you can buy it on Boohoo’. And, it is with this kind of lifestyle we have today that trends are so easily forecast and adopted.

Finally… what we’ve all been waiting to hear really. What is the big trend for 2020? It’s good news. According to, psychedelic prints and flared cuts from the 1960s and 70s will be making a comeback. So best you get yourself down to the shops and become the next trend setter.


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