Jan 18, 2012
Readers, imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon the book Fashion Trends: Analysis and Forecasting by Eundeok Kim, Ann Marie Fiore, and Hyejeong Kim at my local library yesterday. Talk about synchronicity!
I eagerly paged through it and discovered it to be about as dry as a fashion-related book can be, though, granted, it's a textbook. If this doesn't turn students off fashion trend analysis nothing will.
There's a dirty little secret buried at the end of this book (p. 153) and it's quite the eyebrow raiser: "...most U.S. retailers experience large errors in their sales forecasts, resulting in dramatic financial losses. According to the U.S. Census Bureau and National Retail Federation, U.S. retailers are losing more than $200 billion a year due to forecast errors (Kumar & Patel, 2008).
Yes, folks, $200 billion. What does that tell you about the success of fashion forecasting?
My hunch is that if I told you to dig around the Internet and come up with ten likely fashion trends for Fall 2012, you could do it by tomorrow morning. You don't need a Ph.D. and you can skip Fashion Trends: Analysis and Forecasting. You need to be creative, observant, confident in your choices, and able to justify them.
Let's face it, nobody knows for sure what's going to happen tomorrow, whether it's in economics, politics, or fashion. But decisions need to be made today and forecasting gives us the confidence and -- when necessary (like when sales suck) -- provides a justification, so we don't lose our jobs.
It's not our fault -- Pantone predicted Tangerine Tango!
The truth is that people who need clothes are largely going to be limited to what's in the stores. They'll have to buy something, so if they're told that the big color is orange and that's what they see, they're going to buy orange. They may prefer red, but if there's no red to be had, they won't be buying red. Which helps to justify our choice of orange. If orange doesn't meet expectations, though, we can always blame it on the economy, the weather, or bloggers.
It's like American presidential campaigns. By the time elections happen, we're choosing between two people we can't stand, neither of whom will represent our interests. But if we're going to vote, this is the choice we have, and invariably a vote in favor of candidate A or B will be interpreted as a mandate for his or her positions, though it's nothing of the kind.
Just as it's no surprise that relatively few people end up voting, it's shouldn't be a shock to discover that a growing number of people today are shopping in thrift stores, making their own clothes, and snubbing their noses at fashion forecasting. They've dropped out of the "fashion system" and are doing their own thing or whatever their immediate peer group is doing. Or the opposite of that.
Friends, here are my five fashion predictions for 2012. I invite you to add some of your own, below.
1) Women and men will continue to wear tight jeans. In fact, the big word for 2012 is denim. Does this sound a lot like last year's prediction, and the year before that? Surprise!
2) Men will increasingly adopt the late Nineteenth Century prospector look. Plaid vests, tight pants, suspenders, long underwear, high laced boots, wire frame granny glasses, and shaggy beards. Fashion forward types will blacken a few teeth.
3) Vintage-inspired fashion will continue to grow in popularity. Mad Men-inspired dressing will wane, as young people rediscover Here's Lucy and The Mother's In-Law on DVD. It's all about 1968!
4. BIG colors for Fall 2012: Dusty Rose (think Cathy's Forties coat) and Teal (because Michael says so). If not Fall 2012, maybe Fall 2013. Anyway, it will happen eventually so don't be caught behind the trend.
5. Black is the new black. Yes, black is back, and will replace navy, tan, and gray as the neutral du jour. Expect to see black in men's swimsuits, men's and women's shoes, women's pants, and men's formal wear. Plus all-things funeral-related. A return to the classics!
Readers, I think that's enough forecasting for now -- I don't want to overwhelm you, or myself.
Please tell us about the trends you're seeing in your neck of the woods and what you predict for the coming year. Should anyone be investing in day-glo at this point? And after Tangerine Tango...what?
Of course, please (briefly) share why you believe your predictions are likely to come true. Be creative!
Have a great day, everybody!