The term “trends” used to scare me a lot. Soon enough I found out I wasn’t alone in feeling a bit of apprehension at the idea of doing trends research. In my experience, there are quite a few designers out there who fear the idea of being dictated to by trends. So The question most of us get to ask ourselves quite early on in our careers is, should I follow the trends or not?
I’d say it’s taken me over a year to get used to the concept of trends and their place/ purpose. Short of cherishing trends, I’m comfortable with the idea of having a starting point or a reference point to guide me along much uncertainty in the process of creating a collection.
I think the reason most people are not comfortable with trends is because once you dig in you feel like you’ve opened a can of worms and very soon you’re super overwhelmed by the vast quantity of information out there making you feel just as lost as when you started to the point of burnt out….not a nice feeling.
I remember the first time one of my tutors at college introduced to the concept of trends research. She was quite dismissive about it...her words were “it’s a necessary evil”. My reflection of this now is, well we’re designers, we work to serve a market not purely to fulfill our artistic ambitions. So I’m totally comfortable with trends.
The trick with fashion trends is to give yourself time to absorb them slowly, one season at a time one day at a time. I know the task isn’t made any easier when we’re supposed to be working on two to three seasons simultaneously at any given time spanning 6-24 months ahead! But you don’t have to know it all. What resonates with you the best will always show in your work, so concentrating on a particular style that’s up and coming and suitable to your handwriting will pay you dividends.
You learn pretty quickly that everything is very cyclical and ever so transient in this industry. Paradoxically, some trends continue season after season but with a new twist of some sort. The same applies to colours which actually take a lot longer to transition than most people realise. They do so with variants in tone, accents and shade so not so dramatically from season to season.
I stopped worrying about “keeping up” some time ago when I realised that trends are like artistic briefs or challenges that inspire my unique interpretation. This is the most crucial point about who you are as a designer, short of copying you, no-one can replicate your point of view! With the huge diversity of trends going on at any one time there is something to appeal to every kind of designer as well.
Those who choose to ignore or despise trends do so at their peril. There is so much research and beautiful inspirational imagery that goes into trend reports that I find it hard not to fall in love with every trend direction I come across!
So go out there and educate yourself. If you’re lucky enough to have access to websites such as WGSN, don’t waste the opportunity to look and learn. Most universities with a design program will have access to this resource and some online courses for surface pattern design do too.
Being able to show in your portfolio evidence of trends awareness is really important these days. And if you’re one of those designers who struggle to find the right colours at the start of a project, picking colours dictated by a trend will not only make your collection relevant but also speed up the process and take away one more decision in the process. So what trends are you aware of currently in your field which you’d like to get inspired by?