Fashion Trend Forecasting: How Brands Predict New Styles

Fashion forecasting is a science, and it’s one of the most fascinating to be part of—as a fashion writer (among other things), you get to watch brands test new stuff before anyone else. In a big way, consumer opinions are a big part of fashion forecasting. What trends do consumers like? What is trending, and what’s not? As consumers, we express our tastes with our wallets. We shop, we buy, we wear. Fashion brands, however, don’t do this for us. They take what we think we like and combine it with what they already know about trends in their industry, then test it out to see if consumers will buy it or not.

Social Media Engagement

Brands can use social media to predict new trends. How? By listening to what Twitter users are saying. They monitor Twitter hashtags and keywords related to their brand so they can see what people are saying about their products. They can also use Twitter sentiment analysis—a tool that evaluates how positive or negative something is—to see how people feel about a brand.

As trends continue to change, so has the way consumers discover and shop for clothing. The fashion industry has undergone a massive fundamental shift over the last decade, from physical retail to the digital space. With cheaper and more accessible technology, we see online shopping overtake traditional brick-and-mortar stores—in some ways, permanently. With these changes come different approaches to fashion, including new styling trends.

Each year, social media becomes more and more influential in fashion. Social media platforms give influencers a large platform to share their style, which consumers then imitate. According to a recent study, brands that go viral on social media are likelier to see a style trend catch on in real life. The study notes that high-profile celebrities, such as Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber, have driven many style trends that consumers have adopted.

Popular Fashion Shows and Media

For brands, audience trends can inform future product development. From Twitter to Instagram, brands can observe conversations around everything from runway shows, to celebrity style, to everyday street style. Brands can learn to anticipate the wearable trends consumers are talking about.

Fashion shows used to be just about what was on the runway. Now, they are about much more—and more brands are catching on. It has become the biggest predictor of what’s to come, and brands are gaining a major advantage by getting in on the ground floor. Brands now use fashion not just as a social platform but as a strategic platform. Today’s fashion show media isn’t just about showing off clothes but about showing off social insight.

Fashion Influencers on Social Media Platforms

Fashion influencers and bloggers are at the forefront of predicting what’s trending and what’s in style, and according to the data, they are also really good at predicting what products will be hot next. They often influence consumer purchasing behavior and perceptions of brands and products, which, in turn, affects sales.

Brands can predict upcoming trends on social media by analyzing influencers. These influencers have millions of followers and can offer insight into what is and is not in style. With Instagram, Twitter, and other social networks, brands have the ability to monitor what influencers are posting and when. They analyze this information to predict upcoming trends.

Influence of Movies, Web Series, TV shows, and Celebrities

Brands are always working to predict what the next big thing will be, and that includes fashion. The most widely recognized influencers in the fashion world are celebrities, but brands also rely heavily on movie and TV scripts to discover new styles.

More and more, brands are studying product trends before they’re even on the horizon. This is largely due to the influence of pop culture, especially online. Events such as the Oscars and the Golden Globes provide huge boosts to the popularity of certain products. After the awards show, actors, actresses, and directors start wearing their outfits in Instagram photos, which encourages fans to get on the bandwagon as well. Such is the case with fashion brands, which tend to emulate celebrities by wearing particular trends on the red carpet.

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