Gold was “it” in Rio in August but for Spring/Summer 2017, silver is the real winner. There was nary a collection all month that did not include a statement silver garment, regardless of whether the designer was opting to show a See Now-Buy Now Fall/Winter 2016 collection (á la Tom Ford, who showed a silver palette turtleneck. See Cynthia Rowley's sequined cardigan for a much more affordable take) or a more traditionally scheduled Spring/Summer 2017 collection (in the case of Jonathan Saunders’ DVF debut, a silver sheath layered under a fur-accented print coat; or Paco Rabanne’s halter top, maxi skirt combo – both in silver; or Mugler’s slinky silver frock and matching accessories).
A silver lame gown hit the Creatures of the Wind runway early in the month, followed by a toga-like version for Baja East. A suit and tie-turned-one shouldered frock opened Thom Browne’s show, whereas Proenza Schouler marched out a highly embellished beaded dress (Note: a silver PS1 is a See Now-Buy Now option, as is Marie Turnor's silver picnic clutch). Buzzy young brand Area showed a short, statement-making silver dress, and Marc Jacobs outfitted one of his ravers in a fur-trimer silver biker jacket. TOME showed a silver-hued pencil skirt. And Narcisco Rodriguez did his coveted frocks in liquid metal silver for S/S. The trend carried on in London, Milan, and Paris, as well - with Alexander McQueen's silver-accented frocks taking the cake in terms of spectacularity.
A coincidence? Certainly not. There is a reason we consistently see brands turning out similarly colored garments each season or similarly cut silhouettes or even like-themed collections (both Hood by Air and Jeremy Scott put porn twists on their Spring/Summer 2017 collections, for instance), and that is largely due to trend forecasting and the significant role it plays within the fashion industry.
For the uninitiated, trend forecasting generally refers to the calculation of what colors, fabrics, textures, textiles, prints, graphics, and other design elements will be most relevant for consumers in upcoming seasons. Synonymous with the practice of trend forecasting is WGSN. “What we do is distill this massive amount of information through our experts down to usable, actionable insights,” WGSN’s managing director Kevin Silk said a few years ago.
The role of a forecaster is to analyze the market at any given moment, pin-point patterns in consumer behavior and ascertain the common thread, which will form the basis of the next “it” trend(s) for consumers. Such information can range “from how car shapes, architecture and nanotechnology will influence fashion in 2020 to the most popular width for stripes on next season’s Breton top,” and it is gathered by considering “what the stores that are opening, how are people dressing on the street, what the new apps everyone’s obsessed with are,” among other elements, according to Romney Jacob a director for WGSN North America. The company works two years ahead, and so, right now, they’re planning for Spring/Summer 2018.
The New York-based company, which maintains offices worldwide, boasts the title of the world’s leading trend authority. In short: WGSN is a subscription service (and a costly one; the monthly dollar figure for its services is in the thousands) that provides – by way of daily reports – predictions of the trends set to make waves among fashion consumers around the world. As Fusion very aptly noted earlier this year, if you do not work in fashion, “you’ve never heard of [WGSN] but it likely picked out the clothes you’re wearing today.” Fusion went on to note, “In the fashion industry if you are not using WGSN, you are the odd one out.”
And they are right. WSGN currently maintains a roster of over 70,000 subscribers. Among them: Marks & Spencer, Nordstrom, Rebecca Taylor, Nike, Levi’s, Coach, Abercrombie & Fitch, Calvin Klein, Dolce & Gabbana, and H&M.
Competitors, such as Editd, a UK-based, data-driven forecasting firm and New York-based Fashion Snoops, are also in this arena, helping brands and companies to identify and act on the trends and cultural movements that impact their business.
The proliferation of such services and the reliance on them by nearly all brands – sources argue that lacking access to such intel would prove a competitive disadvantage – does not come without some potential downsides. As Marc Worth, the British entrepreneur who founded WGSN, told Forbes in 2014: “People complain that everything looks the same today, but is it any wonder? Thousands of companies are signed up for trend forecasting services, looking at the same color forecasts, the same material swatches and the same silhouettes.”
He continued on to state: “It used to be a real source of inspiration to designers, but now it’s just doing their job for them. You can download CAD [computer-aided design] drawings of a garment and just tweak it. It has made life too easy for people in the creative space; it has made them lazy.” [Note: Worth’s Forbes interview coincided with the launch of his new business a more customized trend forecasting service, which is not affiliated with WGSN].
Regardless of the pros and cons of such services, their influence is clear, and this season we can see it in the many silvery metallic garments that hit the runway.
* This article is brought to you in part by Shopspring.com.