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fashion marketing

Interviews & Insights

Technology’s Impact On Trend & Fashion Forecasting

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

Ruth Staiman, former  fashion director for Bloomingdales and current CEO of The Fashion Office:

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?


17 Fashion Sites Every Fashion Industry Professional Should Know About

As the fashion industry adapts to technology, more and more fashion sites and communities are coming to fruition every day. Digital space is becoming increasingly cluttered as brands build their own social networks and burgeoning fashion bloggers use their blogs to develop their expertise in any given niche.

Last February, we wrote about the top 25 fashion-oriented sites everyone should know about; recently, AdAge released its top six fashion site picks for fashion marketers.

With so many social networks, branded fashion communities and blogs, we’ve decided to share which ones continue to hold our attention.

Fusing Fashion + Technology

1. Inside The Tents – Now in its (upcoming) third season, Inside The Tents offers up-to-the-minute online news coverage on everything related to New York Fashion Week. Creator Yuli Ziv (founder of Style Coalition and My It Things) has done an amazing job in creating real-time coverage, and the site aggregates blog posts, on-the-spot interviews with designers, fashion-related Tweets and tagged Flickr images.

2. – As far as social fashion websites go, Polyvore is leading the democratization of fashion in the digital space. What’s more, Polyvore now offers amazing opportunities for fashion brands and retailers with their custom PPC programs (rumored by many brands to deliver better conversions than Google – WHAT!?!?). Polyvore allows community users to create and edit fashion sets created from items saved from real online stores. Once completed, members save the “sets” they’ve created and share them with other community members; sets can be embedded to most social networks and to any blog.

– Weardrobe is addicting as it is beautiful. Weardrobe touts that  it is “a fashion community focused not just on what you wear, but how you wear it”. Weardrobe was inspired by the unique and inspirational styles of “What I Wore” fashion bloggers and groups like Wardrobe Remix. Weardrobe even held their own blogger conference before S/S 2010.

4. – is an online, user-generated fashion and trend magazine. MyItThings encourages its community to contribute their own articles, pictures and photos from their blogs and websites. The site even allows apparel and accessories designers to submit their own designs as content. The content is extensive – covering everything from home to men’s fashion to eco-inspired design.

Bridging Brands + Bloggers

5. – IFB is a blog and community forum for fashion bloggers and website owners. IFB was created in reaction to corporate networks springing up faster than Jennine Tamm (author of The Coveted) could keep track of. IFB is a community of independent fashion labels, men and women who love some aspect of fashion/design and have dedicated their writing to their passion. The community is supportive and informative; forum participants are dedicated to supporting fellow members in growing their online businesses and monetizing their websites. Recently, the community has been trying establish guidelines for brands and bloggers working together and help address new FTC regulations.

6. SmashingDarlingSmashingDarling is  a site that’s hard to classify, simply because of owner Trisha Ginter‘s amazing online social engagement. It’s an e-commerce site, similar to Shopflick or MarketPublique, but geared towards emerging or small brands that want to sell their product lines online. Cleaner and less confusing than Etsy, the site is easy to use. Designers can create an account for free and upload their products. The products sell at set prices and the sales go directly to designers, minus an 18% selling fee. We feel this is more than reasonable given that average sales representatives take 15-20% in commission. What’s more, the Smashing Darling blog is an addictive read.

New Kids on The Runway

7. Clashe –  Clashe is an industry-oriented site. It is where fashion upstarts (brands, venues) or professionals (photographers, models, consultants, journalists) can all gather in one place. Users can create online presence through digital lookbooks or online portfolios that can feed into their social profiles and social marketing efforts. Clashe seeks to be a lifestyle guide for professionals (fashion designers, stylists, performers) to brand themselves, and it is a place where creative people can be inspired by each other’s work. The site is in its infancy, but I think it will grow well since it offers a solution to an industry problem. Creating print collateral is extremely costly, and this is FREE. Designers, or any industry professional, can upload their shots and send interested parties their digital galleries. This site also has potential to rival Model Mayhem – competition that is sorely needed.

8. Fashism – Fashism is simple. Users create an account and upload photos of their outfits, hair color or whatever they want community approval on. Users rate and vote on what’s uploaded. They earn points for participation. The site reminds us of “Hot or Not”, and you can spend hours rating, voting and leaving your opinions on urban style. We smell trending and forecasting possibilities with this.

9. We Heart It – We <3 It is a fashion social bookmarking site, in which users create online albums with their favorite images and videos. The only caveat for this site is showcasing individual identity, with it’s current model, the interface won’t allow clear representations of individual users. Social sites should allow individual recognition.

10. FadMashion – FadMashion is a networking platform for fashion industry designers and retailers. Retailers can find new designers, and designers can connect with journalists looking for emerging fashion brands. The community already has 1000+ professionals.

11. LadyLux – Created by Elizabeth Wahler, the online luxury publication seeks to cut through the clutter of the internet and find products, people and causes that fit the webzine’s beliefs of “Good For The Sake of Good”. Oftentimes, articles published to blogs and websites are now content consumption. When that’s done, quality falls by the wayside, but not here. LadyLux’s approach to news, trends and the industry offers a refreshing, clearly defined viewpoint on all things related to luxury – whether it be affordable luxe to haute couture. (Disclosure: LadyLux is a project we work on an on-going basis).

Digital Marketing + Industry Insight

12. PR Couture – Founded by Crosby Noricks (Sr. Social Media Strategist for Red Door Interactive) PR Couture is an online resource for successful, emerging and aspiring fashion publicists, designers, students, and educators to share tips, tricks, challenges, and commentary about the role of public relations in the fashion industry.

13. – A social site for fashion professionals. The site offers a mixture of fashion news and trends. I consider it one of the best blogs on emerging and extremely fashion-forward trends out there.

14. – Business Of Fashion is an online portal about the latest international fashion news. BoF explores issues at the intersection of fashion and business, leveraging a network of writers in New York, Los Angeles, France, Italy and Germany who deliver opinionated analyses on emerging designers and global brands from around the world. BOF has recently added emphasis on independent fashion designers, writers and trendsetters working to clear the clutter from the convoluted blogosphere and draw attention to those offering well thought-out, original online content.

15. Spring SpottersThis is still one of our favorites! The Springspotter network consists of thousands of business-savvy individuals from all over the world. Ssers email Springspottters whenever they ’spot’ promising new business ideas. Accepted contributions get rewarded with cool stuff  (iPods, gift certificates, books – stuff users actually want) and sometimes get mentions in the Springspotter newsletter.

16. PSFK – PSFK is a trends research company that publishes a daily news site and provides information about trends research. Their email newsletters provide awesome insights in consumer trends across multiple industries.

17. Refinery29 – We love Refinery29; whatever it is you seek, it’s here. From trends and how-to’s, to what’s hot in Chicago, to designer interviews – R29 has its thumb on the pulse of consumer fashion and content.