The nature of the fashion industry means it is ever-changing and constantly evolving. Whilst this makes it an exciting industry to work in, it can present a problem for businesses. They need to have products ready for sale before a trend lands - getting it wrong can impact sales and profits, as well as brand image and reputation. It is therefore crucial to be able to accurately predict consumer behaviour.
The fashion industry may be built on this premise but it is also a notoriously tricky thing to do well. Trends are impacted by all kinds of external factors from cultural to social, and even political trends! It is the job of a trend forecaster to help fashion businesses navigate this.
Trend forecasting is a highly analytical role, perfect for someone looking to work on the forefront of the industry. Learn more about the responsibilities of a trend forecaster, required skills, salary and entry routes.
WHAT IS A TREND FORECASTER?
Trend forecasters are responsible for identifying new trends and predicting how they will impact the industry. They will seek to identify their source and assess the influence of external factors on these trends. These influences could stem from pop culture to cultural and even political events.
It is the trend forecaster's job to relate changes in the industry to consumer behaviour and provide insight into particular products, styles, prints and colours that are likely to be popular, and those that may fall out of favour. Businesses and designers can utilise these insights to plan upcoming collections and inform merchandising decisions.
There are two main types of trend forecasting; short term and long term.
SHORT TERM TREND FORECASTING
Short term forecasting, sometimes known as fad forecasting, focuses on immediate changes in the fashion industry. It looks at details such as on-trend colour palettes, fabrics and silhouettes. It also looks at the impact of current events and pop culture on consumer behaviour
LONG TERM TREND FORECASTING
Long term forecasting on the other hand looks at fashion trends over 2 years in advance. It looks at major changes in the industry including shifts in consumer behaviour, market structures and changes in customer values and expectations.
As well as this, long term forecasters must consider advancements in the industry such as new production methods. Long term forecasts are used to inform business strategy and help stakeholders make key decisions.
TREND FORECASTER JOB DESCRIPTION
So, the job of a trend forecaster is to predict trends but how do they actually do this? There are many different duties and responsibilities a trend forecaster must undertake, working with a wide variety of people in the process.
The main responsibilities of a trend forecaster include:
Trend forecasters must look at a whole host of avenues in order to successfully predict trends. Cultural, economic and pop culture trends can all have a drastic effect on people’s fashion choices and consumer behaviour. Trends can even emerge from societal feeling, such as the grunge trend in the 90s. Is it the trend forecaster's job to spot the start of trends, even drawing inspiration from other parts of the world?
Creation of Mood Boards
Mood boards are a valuable tool used by trend forecasters. They can be used to curate the visual direction of the business, inspiring key stakeholders and ensuring all departments are on the same page. For example, a trend forecaster needs to ensure that buying and visual merchandising teams are aware of upcoming trends. Different mood boards can be used to segment trends, as well as looking at trend themes, colour palettes, patterns and silhouettes.
Attending Fashion Shows
As a trend forecaster you may have to attend fashion shows. If you work for a high street brand, you might not think haute couture shows are relevant however, this is a practice known as ‘top down forecasting’. This is built on the premise that diluted versions of styles and trends seen on haute couture runways, trickle their way down to high street.
Trend forecasters often work closely with designers, providing both creative and operational support. They provide consultation regarding upcoming trends and feedback on designs. They also work on the operational side to build and grow relationships with manufacturers and vendors.
A trend forecaster working in-house for a fashion brand, or for a fashion retailer needs to be one step ahead of the competition when it comes to identifying new trends. A retailer who stocks new trends first will be able to capitalise on this, just as a fashion brand who creates garments that reflect upcoming trends will. Competitor analysis is key to this. You need to be aware of what your competitors are doing, looking for gaps and opportunities to help you stand out in a crowded market.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD TREND FORECASTER?
The role of a trend forecaster is highly analytical however, there are also key creative and social elements to the role. Not only must trend forecasters be heavily involved in the industry, they must also have a keen world view and understand the influence this can have on trends.
Find out what skills you need to become a trend forecaster.
TREND FORECASTER SKILLS
Much of a trend forecaster’s role is research and the analysis of data. As a trend forecaster, you may analyse numerous data streams looking at shifts in consumer interests and values, shifts in the market and industry or even wider economic changes. You will undertake both qualitative and quantitative research, putting your trend hypotheses to the test.
Alongside these analytical skills, you must be able to think creatively in order to come up with your trend hypotheses. Trend forecasters need to see through the finer details to determine what the key elements are that make up a trend. For example, is there a common colour scheme making an appearance across a range of different styles, a common pattern or even shape? Your ability to do this allows you to understand how high fashion and couture trends may trickle down and manifest themselves in ready to wear and high street styles.
3. Curious and Global-minded
Trends can stem from anywhere - not just within the fashion industry. They can originate anywhere from pop culture to political movements. Due to this, it is important to have a curious mindset and a global view of the world. You must understand how global issues can impact trends and have keen observational skills to identify when this is happening. Having a curious mindset ensures that you take things at more than face value and start assessing how trends could be impacted before they have been!
4. Industry Knowledge and Networks
Whilst a wide view of the world is key for trend forecasters, you must also be heavily involved within the fashion industry building your knowledge and networks. Trend forecasters need to have their finger on the pulse of up and coming designers and collections. They must also ensure that they have access to fashion shows, manufacturers and vendors by building strong working relationships. This involvement means that even the smallest shift in the industry will be noticeable to you.
TREND FORECASTER SALARY
Working as a Trend Forecaster, you can expect to earn anywhere from £17,000 - £66,000 depending on experience.
- Assistant/entry level trend forecaster = around £17,000
- Mid-weight trend forecaster = around £33,000
- Senior trend forecaster = around £66,000
Salaries will vary depending on whether you work for a fashion house/brand or retailer, and by organisation. Many people also choose to work for dedicated forecasting agencies.
HOW TO BECOME A TREND FORECASTER
Trend forecasting is a relatively new field if we look at the technology and methodologies being used. Due to it’s technical nature, those looking to get into trend forecasting will likely need to be degree educated. Experience can also be extremely valuable to help you stand out and gain real-life skills.
To become a trend forecaster, you do not necessarily need a degree in this. Instead employers will look for degrees that provide you with a strong basis for a role in forecasting.
Our UG Buying and Merchandising course can give great insight into consumer behaviour, trends and planning stock and new collections as a result of this. Our online Data Analytics for Retail course could also be a great way to supplement your knowledge and build the key analytical skills needed for forecasting.
Those working in trend forecasting may also choose to complete a fashion design degree - this can be a great way to hone your skills and build an eye for detail. Our Level 3 Fashion Design Diploma is the perfect starting point for those looking to progress into higher education.
Internships and Work Experience
Alongside your qualifications, experience can help you to secure a job as a fashion forecaster. This experience could be achieved through an internship at trend forecasting agencies such as WGSN or working in a complementary role.
By choosing to study at the Fashion Retail Academy, you can benefit from our comprehensive network of retail partners to help secure relevant experience in your field of interest. Our courses also have 3 weeks work experience built in to allow you to put your skills into practice.
Another way to demonstrate your passion and knowledge of the industry is by setting up your own blog. This can be a great way to show your skills for forecasting by commenting on up and coming trends and showing you have your finger on the pulse of the fashion world!
Think a role as a Trend Forecaster is right for you? Take the first step to your dream career and study with the Fashion Retail Academy.
If you have any more questions about any of the courses on offer at the Fashion Retail Academy, send us an email at email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you!
Read our guide How To Get Started In The Fashion Industry for more information.