The search for the next new look is what keeps the fashion world turning. As a fashion designer, your job is to keep up to date with industry trends and develop your knowledge so that you can influence future styles. One way of doing this is to conduct your own research by visiting clothes shops. This might not seem the most efficient approach in the era of the internet, but it remains the foundation for improving your understanding. In this blog, I will give you some tips to use during your shop visits.
Where to conduct your research
While it can be inspirational to visit London, Paris or New York and absorb all of the design influences these cities have to offer, most designers carry out their shop research locally. In fact, combining local and online research can be the most effective research method.
Plan your research
Your primary objective for conducting market research is to familiarise yourself with new fashion collections. I recommend taking notes and collating all of your research into a single document. This will allow you to keep adding to your knowledge and will serve as your own personal reference.
During your research, concentrate on the following areas:
Colour – what colours can you see? Many of the chain stores follow the latest trends and you will notice colours repeated in many collections. Designer brands take notice of these but will have their own palettes in order to set their collections apart. Break down the colours used:
New solid colours (colours used in entire garments)
New highlight colours which stand out (these are used on trims or in prints or in smaller accessories)
New neutral colours
Shapes – notice new shapes and how they feel (e.g. loose, unstructured or tight).
Knit – is it a knit season? Knits feature heavily in winter collections but always notice what yarns are on display in the summer.
Details – check for trends in new details. Look at fastenings - is it a zip, button or no closure season? Are any innovative ways of finishing the garments?
Print – check for new styles and sizes (e.g. graphics, florals, checks or stripes).
Fabrics – what new fabrics are on display? Can you see sheer, heavy, stretch or textured fabrics?
Fit – always try on garments to get a feel for their fit. Take notes of necklines, sleeves and hem lengths.
The future of fashion research
The internet is an amazing tool for conducting market research and most companies feature their collections online. The only disadvantage to this is you cannot feel fabrics or try garments on, but the development of future shopping technologies will undoubtedly change this. Digital mannequins, robot assistants, 3D printing and drone deliveries are on the verge of revolutionising how we purchase clothes. Until then, the most effective approach is to first carry out internet research and then visit local shops. A final piece of advice - make targeted shop visits part of your seasonal schedule so they become a regular element in your calendar.
What tips do you have for staying up to date with fashion trends?