How to use the internet, online websites and social media to find & forecast fashion, accessories and home trends.

How many collections does your company or brand create, refresh or launch each year? For most designers and brands, there’s an art and science to seasonality and collection development; it often correlates to the larger fashion industry calendar and trickles into specific verticals and other segments of lifestyle such as accessories, jewelry, footwear, home furnishing, textiles and interior decor. So how does a designer or brand find, understand, leverage and capitalize on the trends that shape consumer retail? By conducting trend research. Finding trends is not as hard as it used to be, there are some extremely useful free and paid online outlets that help you do this. Here’s how to use the Internet and trade industry resources to find them.


Follow The Forecasters

Our industry is extremely lucky to have fantastic forecasting companies that scour the globe looking for what’s about to happen next in fashion. They are present at every fashion week, cultural event, and keep pace with the blogosphere so designers and brands don’t have to. WGSN, Fashion Snoops, Promostyl,The Trend Council, Design Seeds, TrendHunter, Pantone, and Trendstop are fantastic resources to discover what’s coming next in any consumer facing retail vertical. While many of these services have subscription fees, all of them have blogs and offer free previews of their work online. These sites provide information on the materials, colors, style inspiration and foundational information that trends are based on. Their Pinterest boards are filled with finished, usable trend ideas as well.

Pro Tip: You can also follow fashion forecasters online. Wendy Bendoni, Jill Topol, Michael Fisher, Jaana Jatyri,  Kristine Go of Pattern Curator, NY NOWPatternbank, Trend Dictionary, and Jessica Carter maintain active websites or social media presences that give you access to images, reports and materials for FREE!

Photo: Trend Dictionary

Follow Industry News and Attend Trade Events

Another advantage our industry has is extremely intelligent media outlets that have built their business on covering runway, trade, and overall retail trends. For fashion, outlets like Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), The Business of Fashion and TrendSpotter should be your go-to sources for trends that are starting to happen, as well as finding trends that are here now. Put them on your weekly online reading list (as we all know that WWD, even though it’s a weekly now, stacks up on our desks). For interiors design and home, DWELL, Architectural Digest, and Interior magazine are your go-to sources.

Also, the trade shows you attend, whether you are exhibiting, attending or just walking through, often have multiple trend presentation workshops you can attend. These workshops and presentations are usually put on by the trend forecasting companies listed above, so make time to sit in on them and make even better use of your market participation. For books you can buy as one-offs online, Mode Info, a UK-based online fashion bookstore, offers trend publications geared towards specific industry niches.

Photo: We Connect Fashion | A/W 17-18 Accessories Report

Use Consumer Magazines and Media

Consumer facing magazines are your best friend for finding major trends that are hot for the next two or three seasons. Magazines operate on longer lead times so the editorial they create provides some market longevity. Elle offers trends reports, Who What Wear is fantastic at showing single and category accessories trends, Vogue offers an entire library coupled with the best runway coverage in the business, and Refinery29 has the most up to date coverage of millennial fashion trends on the web. Elle Decor, MyDomaine, Design Sponge, People Style Watch, DailyLook and InStyle –– look to the books! No matter who your customer is, look at the publications your shoppers read to see what trends are happening in their regions, fit their general lifestyle, and personal interests. You can coordinate collections accordingly.

Photo: Elle Magazine

Be Inspired By The Influencers and Trendsetters

Another tried and true method for discovering the latest trends is to follow the influencers and trendsetters on the internet. Your favorite bloggers are at the forefront of what’s hot next, as well other industry figures like Hollywood costume designers. In the blog world, a simple Google search for “best {enter your type of} bloggers” will result in great search results. You can narrow your list down to a specific location or product niche. For example, Adam Gallagher is a go-to resource for men’s trends (especially in timepieces), and Garance Dore is a go-to for womens trends. You can also look for social network-specific influencers (like YouTube/Instagram stars) or micro influencers depending on what sort of inspiration you’re seeking. In the home space, Apartment Therapy, Decorist and Domino are staples.

Outside of the fashion blog world, you can and should look to Hollywood for inspiration. Whether we like it or not, what shoppers wear is heavily influenced by the television shows and movies they watch. Characters are dressed by costume designers, many of whom maintain websites and social media presences. Want to see a piece that was embroidered on a dress from Game of Thrones? Michele Carragher maintains an entire online gallery of her work. Want to know what former True Blood turned Netflix costume designer Audrey Fisher is cooking up? Her Instagram is full of inspiration and sneak peeks. Use IMDB to look up top rated shows, look for the costume designer, and do a simple search on his or her name to find out how to follow them online. For home decor, the same can be said of set designers (ArchDaily has dedicated section).

Let The Big Brands Do The Heavy Lifting

In this industry, it’s also okay to look to the brands for inspiration. High, low or mass, brands like Mr. Porter, Zara, H&M, Target, Daily Look and MissGuided have the budgets to produce trend-related content designed to help drive sales. For other industry professionals, that content serves as great trend inspiration. Don’t be afraid to use it and apply the ideas it generates for you to your collections. What’s more, the brands you’re looking at have the big, paid subscription to the trend services listed above. You benefit no matter how the information is accessed! In the home space, look to Anthropologie, West Elm, Free People and CB2.

Photo: Pattern Curator

Utilize The Technologies and Their Data

In the last few months, we’ve written extensively on how to use Instagram, Pinterest, and online marketing to drive sales and develop bigger customer bases. These companies also have another use –– RESEARCH. Both Pinterest, Instagram and Google regularly offer up trend information based on the data found from their users. When it comes to retail, it’s gold. Use it regularly to help balance what’s inspiring your collections to what will help better sell your collections.

Pro Tip: Use Pinterest to create your own inspiration boards of the images you find around the web that inspired your latest collection. It helps show your customers your design process. With Instagram, look at the elements, colors and tonal elements in their user challenges to impact that process you’re showing on Pinterest. Love the blue in a night sky photo found on Instagram? Pin it to your collection’s inspiration board to show where it came from!

Photo: Decorist

Beyond On-Trend and Immediate

Fashion forecasting is more of an art than a science; it’s a predictive service that entire careers and companies are built upon. It’s not easy to break through the industry noise and find what’s truly going to resonate with customer bases, especially with the timelines we keep in turning out “new” for every season. Yes, product testing and choice modeling based on historical sales data help, but the fickle behaviors of shoppers can’t always be predicted. That’s where the art comes in and consistently wins –– something that inspires and resonates with shoppers can become the next big thing overnight. After all, design is based in emotion, not data. Taste is deeply personal, if people “love” something, they’re going to buy it. Hopefully the tactics above will help you balance the art and science of your own trend-driven product development process.

Photo: Pattern Curator | Kristune Go