Do you ever wonder if it is a magical coincidence, or rather a predictable path of organized information disseminated throughout the fashion industry, that surmount to the widespread trends in color, shape, design, and silhouette? Who are the people behind the curtain who sift through what is going on in the industry, and predict these upcoming trends?
Luckily, we had the opportunity to speak with trend expert and brand analyst Maren Hartman, Director of WGSN‘s East Coast Content operations, whose position involves managing a team of forecasters, journalists and designers. Hartman, who has worked for Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle Outfitters, also has a background in trend consulting and working with Stella McCartney as well as the iconic show, “Sex & the City.”
Read on below for our q&a with Hartman regarding how to get into the business, and what to keep a keen eye out for when it comes to trends.
Fashion Pulse Daily: What kind of background, knowledge, or understanding is quite essential to becoming a trend forecaster?
Maren Hartman: “There are many different answers to that question because often trend forecasters come from a wide array of backgrounds. I think what makes a good trend forecaster is to have experience in the design and product development process. If you come from a design background then you understand the ins and outs of what makes a garment from the inception all the way to its placement on the selling floor. The key to applying that to trend analysis is then being able to look at the bigger picture and connect the dots between what’s happening globally whether it’s socially, economically, or technologically and see how that will come down the pipe line and affect us all through the trends that we will inevitably see.”
FPD: When looking at runway shows, what are some criteria that you analyze or note, in regard to predicting trends?
MH: “We look at the four major buckets- Color, Fabrication, Silhouette, Print/Pattern, and Trims and Details. All of those can be funneled into larger buckets that fall within one of our Three macro-trends that we predict two years in advance.”
FPD: What might we anticipate as continuing to be big in 2013, or what might be big now that seems like it will continue into 2013?
MH: “We’re in a print cycle and it will continue for at least the next few seasons. Photo-real printing and a newfound love of science finds its way into print and pattern as updates to traditional florals. Science is actually cool. Examples of these things are like the prints we’ve seen from Proenza Schoeler (pre fall 12). They used Google earth aerial images as their prints on skirts. Also the androgyny trend continues as a lovely mix of “boy vs. girl tension“”.
FPD: How is looking at trends for womenswear versus menswear the same, or different?
MH: “Much of what we see on the womenswear runways comes to fruition in mass market retail, whereas in menswear we have to look much closer and see through the flare and show to what it will become in stores since menswear has to be tamed down much more to sell.”
FPD: What is something that a trend expert does that might be considered unexpected, as part of the job description?
MH: “We have to shop the stores constantly! We don’t buy anything, but because fashion is such a fickle industry we have to watch the ever evolving machine, and that means checking out ALL the stores and their updates all the time.”
FPD: Can being a trend expert also translate into other jobs, such as ‘cool hunting’ and consulting for specific brands?
MH: “Absolutely. The key is to be always flexible and never let your own personal taste get in the way of being able to read what’s actually happening in the market and to also be able to adapt to whatever your specific client’s needs are. Many of us come from specific brand consulting or mixed media backgrounds.”
FPD: If unfamiliar with WGSN, how would you say the site and its services is different than any other professional, fashion-related site out there?
MH: “We are the biggest and the most thorough. With offices across Europe, The U.S., Asia, and South America we have our fingers on the pulse of not only current fashion trends but global trends that will have a worldwide impact on designers, merchandisers, and consumers. The massive global balance is what sets us apart from all our competitors.”
FPD: With having the ability to be so far ahead of the trends, do you personally dress ahead of what is happening in fashion, or just stick to what you like?
MH: “Depends on who you ask! When working in this industry it’s hard not be influenced and inspired by the newness that comes down the runways. To work in this market there has to be a pretty deep love and respect for the artform and so it usually finds its way into our wardrobes. But everyone here has their own personal style. There is no uniform.”