To cope with the ever-changing world, the marketing segmentation and targeting techniques are rapidly evolving from traditional, static, demographic-based criteria towards dynamic, mood, lifestyle and psycho graphic influences. Fashion forecasting is the prediction of mood, behavior and buying habits of the consumer. It is no longer a question of identifying your customers by age, geography or income, but looking into how and why they buy, based on their mood, beliefs and the occasion.

Fashion is a style that is popular in the present or a set of trends that have been accepted by a wide audience. But fashion itself is far from simple. Fashion is a complex phenomenon from psychological, sociological, cultural or commercial point of view. Fashion trends are the styling ideas that major collections have in common. They indicate the direction in which the fashion is moving. Fashion forecasters look for styles they think are prophetic, ideas that capture the mood of the times and signal a new fashion trend.

The fashion system has spread across all other sectors, from cosmetics to cars via politics and sports. All sectors observe fashion as an endless source of inspiration. Gilles Lipovetsky points out that the more the fashion society develops, the less importance will be given to the affordability of clothes! To hold on to its role as a pioneer and enhance its brand image, fashion has to continue to innovate.

Forecasting the future demand for particular styles, fabrics and colors is an important aspect of the fashion industry. Textile specialists work two years ahead to determine the general guidelines for each fashion season. Fashion forecasting is an important activity to ensure that the process of observation related to short and long term planning can be based on sound and rational decision making and not hype. Forecasting can bridge the gap between ambiguous, conflicting signs and the action taken by the design team. "Fashion forecasting combines theories of fashion changes with the process of organizing and analyzing the information and synthesizing the data into actionable forecasts." (Brannon 2000) Forecasting is a creative process that can be understood, practiced and applied. Forecasting provides a way for executives to expand their thinking about changes, through anticipating the future, and projecting the likely outcomes. (Lavenback and Cleary 1981)

Long term forecasting (over 2 years ahead) is used by executives for corporate planning purposes. It is also used for marketing managers to position products in the marketplace in relationship to competition.

Short term forecasting is used by product developers, merchandisers and production managers to give style direction and shape collections. For short term forecasting most apparel companies subscribe to one or more services, whose job is to scan the market and report on the developments in color, textiles and style directions.

Forecasters reflect the earliest views on trends some eighteen months in advance of the season. At this stage, color is a crucial consideration of yarn mills. It is also the focus of discussion among others who are interested in very early trend decision-making. Fashion forecasters combine the views emerging about color and fabric from the early yarn and fabric trade shows with their socio-economic and cultural analysis. Major trends in lifestyles, attitude and culture in particular music, sport, cinema and television are used to predict changing consumer demands.

Fashion forecasting involves the following activities such as studying market conditions, noting the life style of the people, researching sales statistics, evaluating popular designer collections, surveying fashion publications, observing street fashions etc.

The Direction of Fashion Change

Observation is not enough. If the trend watcher is to take advantage, he needs a framework for explaining how the trend began and its likely path within a social system. The directional theories of fashion change trickle down, trickle up and trickle across to make prediction easier by pointing to the likely starting points for a fashion trend, the expected direction that trend will take and how long the trend will last.