Following Print Trends The Right Way

Contrary to popular opinion, when you incorporate print 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. Stick with me…

Buyers are looking for patterns that interpret the current print 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 print trends?

Why do we care about print 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 for following print trends

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.

How do you stay on top of the latest trends? Let me know in the comments below.







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