Following Trends The Right Way

Following Trends The Right WayContrary to popular opinion, when you incorporate trends into your work it DOES NOT mean that you have to knock off current or recent runway designs. In fact, most buyers are looking for exactly the opposite. It’s true! Stick with me…

Buyers are looking for patterns that interpret the current trends in a way that fits with the brand image of the company he or she represents. They are also looking for something unique to their company, something that their competitors won’t have. That’s why your interpretation of the latest trends is so important. Please understand; your interpretation is your creative voice, your mark of originality in a crowded marketplace. You’re the splash of color amongst the black and white.

Knowing and understanding this to be true, leads to one bit question that us textile designers must evaluate: if buyers are looking for something unique why do we care about trends?


Why do we care about trends?

We look to trends for several reason.

Trends help us to keep our work fresh. New colors, techniques, layouts, pattern sizes, and all the other new influences and trends are what keep our working looking fresh…even after designing for 5,10,15, or even 20 years.

Understanding trends is important, as fashion designers develop trends when designing their apparel collections and often look for patterns that fall into these trends.

By following trends you better position yourself to keep your portfolio looking fresh, while also being able to offer your buyers exactly what they are looking for when shopping for patterns for their next collection.


Tips to becoming a trend watcher:

Are you ready to become a trend watcher? Here are some tips to get you started:

Make trend research a daily activity
Trend research can be very difficult and overwhelming to stay on top of if you only do it once a season. When you are just starting I encourage you to spend 30 minutes a day researching your market. It is the perfect activity to do when you’re in need of a break in the creative process…grab a cup of tea and treat yourself to some inspirational trend research. Remember, this is part of the passion behind what you love, so treat this research like the treat it is!

Use your customer or market as a filter
As you are reviewing trends, change your filter from, “do I like this trend?” to “would my customer like/wear/buy this trend?” By doing this, you’re truly putting yourself in a position where you can more authentically evaluate the market. For example: So, would someone buying for women’s activewear like/ wear/ buy this trend? If the answer is no, move onto a trend which shouts your customer’s style.

Use your own artistic style as a filter
If you see a trend that doesn’t fit with your style or resonate with you—skip it! There is never a need to force yourself into researching a trend that doesn’t feel right. Personally, if I come across a trend for conversational dog patterns, I skip it and keep going. Why? I cannot draw dogs. Sometimes it truly is as simple as that.


As you observe the market and identify trends, always consider ways you can weave these trends into your work. You want to make sure that you’re interpreting them according to your style and design signature, while also being considerate of the needs of the companies whom you admire.

There are numerous places to observe trends in the fashion and women’s activewear markets. They range from very costly to highly affordable. I want to share four of them with you, going from highest priced to most affordable. I don’t recommend one or the other, because your decision is based on your budget and what’s feasible for you.


Trend resources

Trend forecasting services
Online trend forecasting services like WGSN are extremely popular with large fashion design companies. Trend forecasting services are convenient, saving designers time from doing all their research themselves. They also offer designers a reliable resource for getting the inside scoop on trends when they may not be confident in their own trend forecasting abilities, or desire to invest their research time elsewhere. It’s important to understand that when you are making major forecasting decisions and presenting those ideas to CEOs and Design Directors, you will have the ability to point to trend forecasts on WGSN with confidence.

Trend forecasting magazines
A more affordable alternative to trend forecasting services are trend magazines and guides, which are developed by websites such as PatternBank and PatternPeople. These affordable guides gather images into trends that designers can refer to while working on their latest collection.

In addition to the trend services and products that are available in the marketplace, there are countless free resources available to designers who don’t mind investing a little time in the trend research process. Some blogs, like Pantone or Cotton Inc., offer their vision for what trends will be popular in future seasons, while other websites, such as, focus on reporting the patterns and designs that are shown on the runway, featuring the collections and designers that they find to be the most relevant to the industry.

Pinterest is a wonderful resource for researching and gathering trend information. Simply typing in the season or market that you want to research will open up a world of trends and inspiration for your next collection.


My process

I currently use a combination of sources for trend forecasting ideas including WGSN, and Pinterest. While WGSN is an amazing resource, I do believe that it is important to do my own trend research, as well. I find the research process to be more enlightening, inspiring, and empowering than simply acting on the advice of others. The research process allows me to really absorb and understand the trend, and I find that I have a deeper connection with it.


Want to learn more?

In next week’s post I will share one of my favorite trends for Spring/Summer 2018, as well as show how we are applying this trend to the women’s activewear market. Please sign up for our newsletter to ensure that you don’t miss it!

You’re also invited to join me for a free live training event where we’ll be discussing the women’s activewear market and what you can do to begin designing in this inspiring market. Grab your spot here.







Featured Designer: Gauri Malhotra



Textures, details, and layers—these are all things we love as textile designers and no one uses them in a more exquisite way than designer Gauri Malhotra. We first featured Gauri back in 2014 and instantly fell in love with her process and her creative story. Since that time, she’s continued creating but has shifted her direction. Today, she chooses to focus on “experimentation and understanding of materials to create texture and surfaces”.

According to Gauri, “My inspiration comes from material itself, whether it be a fabric like denim or taffeta, or a copper wire or vinyl, or perhaps the combination of them all? It’s always the magical question, ‘what if?’.”

When asked about how she decided to shift her focus in this direction, Gauri said, “Working with and for designers with varied aesthetics has really helped me open up my mind and grow as a designer.” As designers, we all want this and watching somebody be so successful at it is a wonderful example we can all learn from.

With my career, working with clients with “varied aesthetics” is something that I love to do. However, this exercise can be applied to any designer’s creative process. If you normally design for womenswear, you might want to consider designing your next collection for the menswear industry. Or if you normally design for a more trendy customer, brainstorm ways to apply your style to a more conservative customer. Don’t be afraid to attempt the new and challenge your creativity, because you’ll likely surprise yourself in a most pleasant way.

I encourage you to check out more of Gauri Malhotra’s work on her Tumblr and Instagram accounts.

Be inspired, and be well.





Featured Designer: Richard Baker

first-blush Untitled-3 Today we are highlighting the amazing work of UK-based surface pattern designer Richard Baker. His bold and vibrant florals are such a breath of fresh air and we love his energizing use of color! Read on to learn more about this up-and-coming talent.


About Me

“I graduated from the Norwich University of the Arts with a 2:1 BA (Hons) in Textile Design and subsequently exhibited work at the New Designers show in London where I sold my first design collection.

Having worked as a graphic designer / photographic retoucher, I soon pursued my passion for surface pattern designing, creating womenswear prints for a New York agency. Wanting to obtain further experience and diversify into other commercial contexts, I contacted Holly Harman of ‘Wine Label Design’ based in California, USA where I was given the opportunity to assist with some design and publishing projects. I have recently done some work experience at the F&F Clothing head office in Hatfield, UK where I learnt so much about current and future trends, meetings with suppliers and so much more…

I am looking to explore commercial opportunities where I can design for various markets such as: ceramics, creative glass, fashion, stationery, interior design, canvas art, album artwork, packaging…”
Wandering Wallflower-001fLavender Grove-001b
My Technique
“It was when I was a student that ‘drawing’ was emphasised as being so important in the design process. At the time I was unaware just how much. It was only once I had graduated that I discovered my own style and method of working. Drawing is the most important part of the design process…and it is about having fun and letting your personality come out in your work.

I love using natural objects like flowers and leaves in my work….and I can often be seen collecting various things while out on walks. I find using the actual objects brings out an original feel to the overall finished design. I sometimes like to mix hand drawn wax pieces with actual objects – using the hand drawing or stitching as interesting background marks.

I also love how colours compliment each other in my work – the overall finished design has to feel right in every aspect. I have learnt so much about colour trends which has also made my work much more appealing commercially.

I also design my work in preparation for being a repeat pattern…I like showing my work as a repeat tile so if somebody likes what they see they can use it as an instant repeat if necessary.”


For further information visit or get in touch at You can also check out Richard’s portfolio, blog, or connect with him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


Have a wonderful weekend!!


Found Patterns: Tropical Fish


Images via: (clockwise from top left)  Pesce Scropione” by Giorgio Minguzzi (cropped from original),  “Cal Academy of Sciences” by Anita Hart (cropped from original),  “Discus in Carmel” by David Dennis (cropped from original),  “Barry” by Qiou87 (cropped from original),  “IMG_4004.jpg” by kntrty (cropped from original) “Tropical fish” by David J “spotted” by Janine (cropped from original) “Titan Trigger fish”  by Shayne Thomas (cropped from original)

The Latest from Vivian Kvitka

It’s a pleasure to welcome Vivian Kvitka (a.k.a. The Good Viv) back to the blog–you may remember her from this feature last fall. Earlier this summer Vivian launched her first line of branded products and we are excited to share them with you today!

viv2Left: Dear Desert; Right: Desert Poppydesertseries_flatlayDesert Seriesstuddybuddy_flatlayStuddy BuddyvivLeft: Dear Desert Collection; Right: Study Buddy Collection   

“I dug deep for each of these designs. Study Buddy and Dear Desert are honest reflections of two of my strongest divisions of myself. Study Buddy feels younger, bolder in a comical and lightly satirical way. Dear Desert is a deeply earnest collection made from a place of honesty and vulnerability. These products are small, functional works of art. It gives me so much joy that my artwork becomes the home for the thoughts, notes, and doodles of someone else.

I found it nearly impossible to decide which of my designs to manufacture into these notebooks so I created a poll and asked the people within my network that are also in my target demographic for their opinions. The results were all over the place, except for one similarity. Every single person who voted included Desert Poppy in their selection. I had no idea it would be such a popular print.

Over the past year I’ve worked with a handful of new clients including Spoonflower Berlin, Hanna Lisa Haferkamp, and Roots Studio. I’ve learned a great deal working with different kinds of clients from private individuals to larger companies and startups. It’s been incredibly exciting to be able to make work that varies so strongly aesthetically and thematically.

My goals for the next year include licensing a collection of prints to a sneaker company, expanding my product range, and getting my designs sold within a major US retailer like Target, Anthropologie, or Macy’s. They feel like really big goals but this time last year, I wouldn’t have believed I could accomplish everything that I’ve done.”

See more at or on Instagram.

Vivian is offering Pattern Observer readers a 10% discount until Sept 30th on products in her online shop using the discount code: PATTERNOBSERVER 

Follow Us

About Us

At Pattern Observer we strive to help you grow your textile design business through our informative articles, interviews, tutorials, workshops and private design community, The Textile Design Lab.