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'The Fashion Forecasters': A closer look at the history of colour and trend prediction

By Weixin Zha


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Peering into the crystal ball and trying to spot the colours and shapes that consumers will swoon over in coming seasons is perhaps fashion‘s most obscure and fascinating occupation. The book, The Fashion Forecasters – A Hidden History of Color and Trend Prediction, seeks to demystify the ways in which trends develop by grounding the process through the lens of history, culture and business.

The 275-page book is surprisingly light on images for one forecasting trends in an industry so heavily dependent on visuals - but it makes up for their absence through its in-depth insights on the subject. The book analyzes fashion’s inner workings from a business perspective, claiming to be “the first historical study of colour and trend prediction in Europe, America and Asia”.

Shedding light on industry practices

Through deciphering the industry practice of forecasting, the book seeks to answer various tricky questions: Is producing fashion a spontaneous process or one prefabricated by a small group of people? Do trend forecasters predict trends or predetermine them, like a self-fulfilling prophecy? The book consists of seven academic essays using research based on the archives of trend studios, market researchers, colour forecasters and international trade fairs. It also includes five interviews with contemporary forecasters including WGSN and Stylesight, who shed additional light on current industry practices.

The chapters provide a thorough overview of how the profession has evolved over the past 100 years across countries and continents, including the US, Japan, and Sweden. While insightful, the overview might also feel lengthy at times, especially for those looking for a quick introduction, with each academic chapter initially rooting itself in its respective themes within research.

The structure of the book can seem loose at times as it looks at fashion production as a "collective creative process", attempting to to expound the myriad of ways in which trends are spotted, evolve, and manifest themselves within the industry. As well as covering the profession and activities of a trend forecaster, the book also examines correlations and institutions involved in the discovery and dissemination of trends – such as industry associations and trade fairs as Pitti Uomo and Interstoff.

In summary, the The Fashion Forecasters is a thoroughly academic book in its approach and style while still remaining readable to the larger fashion audience. But perhaps look elsewhere for a concise, how-to book on fashion forecasting.

’The Fashion Forecasters - a Hidden History of Color and Trend Prediction’, edited by Regina Lee Blaszczyk and Ben Wubbs, 275 pages, published by Bloomsbury, 49.99 US dollar.

Picture: Bloomsbury

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