Out of eighteen years of your experience and observation about fashion industry; which things you see unchanged, and things that did not remain the same?
The process itself has not really changed, the way that we locate the information comes much more via online than from print, although most of the real inspiration comes from online versions of printed publications. Online has also created infinite sources of information which has made the job both easier because of the ease of locating information and harder since a greater mass of intelligence needs to be developed into meaningful trend information.
Based in London, Mudpie forecasts for fashion trends worldwide; what makes it possible? How do you tape the trends?
Because we are represented in over 50 countries our trends are international. However as a business based in the UK we will always be UK centric to some extent. As an island nation with 12% of our population foreign born, other cultures are well represented in the UK. Our best markets include the USA, South America and India, Southern Europe and Scandinavia.
At Mudpie we have a trends team; each person has an area which reflects their personal interests. These include art, architecture, politics, economics, media, entertainment, technology and social sciences. Our trends team look at these area and we aggregate both the popular and emerging themes. We then randomly add these 'micro trends' to our trend journal and gradually distil them into smaller and smaller groups of trends. Along the way we identify items that are close to season as possibilities for 'fast fashion' or flash trends', we discard items that lack commercial potential. We create and develop all of our own trends, there is nothing available in the market that is far enough ahead for us to use as a 'package' so we gather our information from a wide variety of intelligent non fashion resources.We know our trends are very accurate, my role is to ensure that our predicted trends meets market maturation at the same time as the selling season we have forecast it for.
Virtual Fairs are world of opportunities at your mouse-click. How would you take this tenet?
In my opinion big changes within the industry will occur in the delivery of the information, or the communication between brand and consumer. There is something interesting developing between the virtual worlds of Second Life, Science Sim and Augmented Reality, and in this respect in virtual trade fairs. Augmented Reality will give us a means of experiencing a ‘trend', this opens up new possibilities for presenting information which is neither purely online or in print. AR could be used for something as simple as understanding the application of the trend, for example a merchandiser could test how a range could look in an augmented reality store environment. For the consumer the reality is that body scanning technology that enables the virtual shopper to create a realistic virtual self (avatar) is already available, thereby allowing the 'shopper' to check the fit from all angles.
This opens up all kinds of possibilities for garment design and manufacture and of course the trend development process. Firstly, samples could be entirely 'virtually' designed and developed as 3D prototypes in a virtual environment and realized on the virtual runway before becoming a finished material product in the real world. Less time and resources are then wasted on travel and materials within the product development cycle.
The only limitation to the reality of virtual shopping is self image- the average female is not ready to accept the virtual 'reality' of her own body image as seen from every angle - this will take more than web 4 or 5 or even ScienceSim to solve! Until then the 3D delights of the virtual grocery store is the next likely commercially successful development in Internet shopping and is something that the grocery retailer Tesco is already reported to be looking at.
A forecast on the trend that would drive approach of fashion industry in coming years, please-
For autumn/winter 11/12, Mpdclick look towards the changing consumer behaviours and patterns and predict an overall theme of ‘The New Equilibrium’. Now that consumer decadence has come to an end, ‘The New Equilibrium’ creates a stable path for future growth, bringing renewed opportunities for brands; the challenge for retailers is to think the unthinkable, accepting that the ‘consumer age’ has entered a new phase. As previously identified in Spring/Summer 10, ‘Consideration’ is a key consumer trend of the decade. Today’s customer, no longer afraid of reality, is adapting to a new model for living based on an alternative future which combines science and technology with social cohesion and collective influence. A new globally-connected peer-to-peer culture has evolved, producing a refreshed sense of community as consumers re-examine the concept of ‘truth’. As the environment continues to be the defining issue of our age we are set for an energy revolution and a plan of action with longevity firmly in mind. Certainly brands and retailers must adapt to emerging patterns of consumption, utilizing design to deliver originality, quality and transparency through all levels of the supply chain.#######
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.