How TikTok is influencing the next generation of fashion forecasters

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As personal as you think your maximalist, gorpcore, or normcore outfit might be, a trend forecaster probably predicted you’d be wearing it years ago.

Trend forecasters use a balance of data and intuition to recognize specific micro- and macro-trends occurring in the fashion industry. They identify how and why these trends appear and reappear, and use their knowledge to predict what will be hot and when, up to years in advance.

In the pre-internet era, the process was typically reserved for the elite of high fashion’s top-tier forecasters, a group that wrote trend reports based on the prints, fabrics and patterns of a particular collection. . These reports would then filter from Fashion Weeks to editorial broadcasts before finally reaching consumers on department store clothing shelves up to two years later. Now, as TikTok becomes a more present and guiding resource in society, forecasters are increasingly turning to the app to predict where fashion is heading.

Today’s forecast

The process varies by forecaster or agency, but fashion fortune tellers provide valuable insight into all manner of trends, whether it’s the death of skinny jeans, royal revival, or fashion adoption. outdoors in every run and hike of life. Most major trends tend to cycle every two decades, making it easier for forecasters to make their forecasts. Today, however, TikTok’s whirlwind of ideas and content presents a new set of qualitative and quantitative challenges for forecasters.

New York-based trend forecaster and deputy fashion director Kendall Becker says the rise of TikTok as a forecasting tool means there’s a lot more content to filter out. “You have to be really smart now to spot a micro trend and a real macro move,” she says. To input. Micro-trends refer to unique, trendy pieces that take over social media for a short period of time, while macro-trends are more persistent concepts that last for multiple cycles. The micro-trendy House of Sunny green bodycon dress was spotted all over social media before fading away after a few weeks. Meanwhile, early 2000s elements like bold prints and embellishments have sustained multiple seasons over the past few years.

“You have to be very smart now to spot a micro-trend and a real macro motion.”

When producing feature stories for department stores or content for her followers, Becker often relies more on her knowledge of fashion history and her library of looks from past runways than on social media. She says that even if someone in Brooklyn is interested in a hot micro-trend, the style may not drive sales at a major retailer like Nordstrom. Identifying a specific style, pattern or silhouette on TikTok as a global and impactful trend in society is a difficult task for forecasters due to the speed with which trends are generated on the platform. But one of the biggest misconceptions about trend forecasting, Becker says, is the assumption that it’s all about the elements. In reality, projections are often seen through a more psychological perspective.

Psyche

While traditional forecasters still report for retailers, others use their visibility on TikTok to bypass the middleman and present their information directly to the consumer. The Digi Fairy, a creative agency that focuses on youth and internet culture, delivers a sweet trending breakdown to over 93,000 followers on TikTok and Instagram combined. His TikTok feed covered a wide range of topics ranging from Dusk resurgence of “Whimsigoth”. Instead of specializing in trend forecasting for large corporations, the agency focuses on making connections between fashion and other cultural areas such as beauty, music and film.

TikTok is becoming a platform that generates micro-trends faster than they can be predicted and produced in retail (unless you’re a super-fast fashion company like Shein). Biz Sherbert, the cultural editor of The Digi Fairy and the face of its TikToks, believes that explaining why trends happen is more important than marketing them as salable products.

“Is there a cultural shift on top of that that maybe isn’t so obvious just by looking at a little niche trend based on TikTok?” Sherbert said. “How can I make sense to an audience that may not know all of the terms or the different factors that go into a trend?”

Consumers are placing more emphasis on the authenticity of social media than in recent years thanks to concepts such as photodumps and content exposing filters. A shift in consumer values ​​and how they spend their money during the still-ongoing pandemic has also affected what items and trends people are willing to invest in and why. Honesty and shifting values ​​then allow forecasters to dig deeper into the psychology of a particular trend’s popularity.

One such investable macro-movement is the resurgence of romantic and feminine items. Although ’90s grunge and punk resurfaced through graphic tees, Vivienne Westwood and Dr. Martens galore, brands such as Mirror Palais and Lemaire countered the rough edges using lace, silhouettes fluids and soft fabrics. “People want to embrace their softness and their femininity now,” Becker says. “They want to get dressed up and feel sexy.”

“There are certain trends that have been left in the past For a reason.”

Some resurfacing trends, however, strike the nerves of people who have been psychologically harmed by the beauty standards associated with them. Low-rise jeans, mini-skirts and thinly shaved eyebrows made a comeback in the year 2000 resurgence. But in their original heyday, the clothes were often associated with a lean body type Shaver.

“I think there are certain trends that were left in the past for a reason,” Becker says. “And it’s kind of unfortunate that just when something is doing really well on social media, all of a sudden it feels like there’s pressure to become that trend.”

Yet Sherbert says the younger generation’s intolerance of negative representations of body image is preventing these harmful ideas from regaining the power they once had. “People have already reacted to this and [said]”In fact, if you don’t fit that body type that was so idealized in the early 2000s, you can and should still wear those trends that come from that period,” she says.

In your company

Even though TikTok users have positive conversations about subcultures and their various sub-trends, forecasters often have to make judgment calls about what actually constitutes a larger macro-trend. Brands and retailers pose a challenge to the process as they increasingly leverage the app and use it as an opportunity to drive sales.

Although a product may be “trendy”, associating it with the phrase “viral TikTok” can be misleading. The phrase is often used to market a product that has organically gone viral on the app, such as the rarely replenished Dior Viral Lip Oil. Brands with sponsorship budgets can also pay influencers to promote a product, making it go viral and thus increasing sales.

WGSN, one of the most extensive (and expensive) trend forecasting companies in the industry, provides over 70,000 design templates to corporate retailers. Each pattern is updated regularly to reflect trend forecasts for future seasons. The database not only gives all of WGSN’s big box customers access to the same information, but it also adds to an unoriginal fashion factory mentality, as multiple stores carry the same or similar pieces. But TikTok remains an untouched source of knowledge for many professionals and businesses who think the app is just choreographed dances and dangerous challenges. In fact, TikTok is a valuable resource for new-age forecasters who want to keep up to date with all the trends that are mostly coming from Gen Z.

As for how long we’ll keep seeing Y2K butterfly tops and vintage-looking dad shoes, in Becker’s experience, wearability is the number one factor that decides how long a trend lasts. Some styles may be picked up by retailers down the road, but a piece has to be wearable, make people feel good, and be an “easy buy” for it to really make an impact. And if you’re among the 71% of TikTok users whose purchases are directly influenced by the app, you might want to start checking the predictions.

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