The Impact Of Social Media On Trend Forecasting
After the Behind The Seams trend forecasting panel and Erin Weinger’s insights, I found that the panelists had only scratched the surface on the impact of digital media on trend forecasting. I wondered if online trending services and real-time forecasting were making traditional mediums obsolete.
Digital Vs. Traditional, WhoWhatWearDaily Vs. Vogue, street Style will not replace a highly stylized photography. We have to learn to be friends. – Shane Cisneros, Celebrity Stylist
With the exception of the Erin, most of the panelists respected online technology, but didn’t embrace them. Fran Sude said, “WGSN and Stylesight have color files, but they don’t have tangibility.” I wanted my response to be,
“Tangibility and feeling something is one thing. Yes, I love to feel and touch certain fabrics and materials, but technology has event made texture accessible via my iPad. I’ve seen shoppers in West Elm and CB2 take out their iPad, load Gilt Home and lay the iPad on a couch to decide if they’re going to buy something online while simultaneously purchasing in a store! That’s impactful!
Do you use Polyvore or have you crowedsourced opinions? How have sites like Style Sight impacted your business? How have you used raw data, mined it, and put it back together in a way that makes sense for you customers to forecast online sell through? Did you know this could be done?”
My feeling is that digital has a positive impact on many traditional business to business services; including trend and merchandising services. How to retain your audience is the same question, but is now: How do I retain my business’s customers? The answer is the same: great customer service and provide a services that brings them back for more. You listen. Your business and its services have to evolve with your customer in order to remain relevant. Use technology for that.
Fascinated by the panel, I turned to two fashion industry fashion forecasting experts for West Coast and East Coast insights on fashion and technology.
Industry Expert Ruth Staiman on Technology’s Impact On Forecasting
Technology IS The New Fashion: Fashion and trend forecasting is a process that begins with color and fabric predictions, trend selections and comes full circle with trade show and fashion show attendance. Add in a global view of film, art and popular culture and you’ve got it. Before the internet, Fashion Direction was based on instinct. We gathered all the information by hand and presented it to our buyers in packets labeled “For Your Eyes Only”.
The internet and sites like Stylesight, Stylelist, MyPantone and Polyvore are tools we never dreamed of having that add more information and data to the process. Polyvore allows consumers and experts to work with “current” fashion to create new trends. I’d like to see more influencers on Polyvore creating and sharing to push the envelope. Stylesight is a microcosm of a process that used to require traveling around the world. Information that was only available to Retail executives is now in the public domain. This will push Trend Forecasting to a new level.
A Trend Forecaster could be gobbled up into the black hole of this virtual fashion world for eternity. Technology does add infinitely to the process, but “being” in the real world, in the street, and at the designer collections is still the driving force behind great retail and editorial Fashion Direction.
Trend Forecaster Industry Interview: Wendy K. Bendoni
Wendy Bendoni is a Professor of Fashion Marketing at Woodbury University Professor and Fashion Forecaster and European Correspondent for StyleLens for the past 20 years. Bendoni is also the creative director of the Lifestyle prediction service Design-Options and fashion software developer of SnapFashun: CAD .
FMM: How has Technology impacted Trend Forecasting?
WB: Tracking fashion trends used to mean traveling abroad five times a year to review runway, retail and street fashion. It would take two weeks for the team to research and another two weeks for a team of 10 to pull the complete report together. The report would then be published and sent to our clients for review, direction and inspiration. The total process would take over a month.
Today we have reporters around the world that send us up-to-the-minute footage of what is being worn on the streets as well as what retailers are showcasing. We receive 10,000 to 15,000 images a month from Tokyo to Milan that are tagged and categorized for our clients.
Technology has created a platform for us to take the information given by our reporters and used to track trends though social media. It’s fascinating how walking the streets of Amsterdam only gives you half of the story of why a trend is popular. To completely understand the significance of a particular trend, it is important to fully understand how and why that trend came into existence. After visiting social media communities, I can usually pinpoint where the trend originated and where it is heading. My days of strolling the local fashionable hangouts has been redirected to visiting the local blogs or social-media communities.
The job of ten has now been replaced by the job of five who have multiple platforms of information streaming at one time. No longer are there set launch dates for our trend reports. Trend analysis reports are done on a daily bases. Digital sketches are drawn with our software program, SnapFashun, and downloadable for our clients to immediately use in production or online trend presentations. Technology has given trend forecasters tools that seem to change daily. I value the research process of determining the next big trend but also look forward to new ways of tracking future trends.
FMM: What is the value of real-time data?
WB: Real-time data is my secret weapon for researching new trends at retail. There is an overwhelming amount of real-time information available today to track consumer shopping habits. Yes, you can monitor live feeds of shopping behaviors but you better know your fashion theories to really determine how this will effect the trend direction. I find that real-time data most useful when researching a particular trend in the market place. Real-time data that can be immediately collected is truly revolutionizing trend forecasting. Today, new divisions are being created in forecasting firms to best track and evaluate the data collected.
Fast Fashion is the other important advance for technology in the fashion industry. Fast Fashion used to refer to throw-away fashion you would find at Forever 21. Now this term refers to the speed a collection is first introduced to their customers via technology. Burberry is a key player in this movement of Fast Fashion. Their shows are shot as a film and broadcast in private pre-views in select Burberry stores. After the shows, the customers are given an iPad to immediately shop the collection. Fast-Fashion is now born!
The consumer is evolving and expecting immediately gratification after previewing the runway collections. The new need for Fast Fashion is changing the supply and demand of products and services. This in turn has forecasters looking to see who is next to use technology to supply their clients with Fast-Fashion options.
FMM: What’s the future of technology and forecasting?
WB: Technology and forecasting are forever joined together. Retailers demand trend information at a moment notice, while manufactures are in search of key selling silhouettes. Forecasters are open to new technology and have fully embraced new tools for tracking and monitoring the consumer. Technology continues to unlock new explorations from aviator societies to new technology driven materials.
As technology continually evolves and impacts the fashion, apparel and retail industries faster and faster, how has your business or services adopted?