A Process & Passion for Discovering the Next New Thing.
Tsveti Enlow is a trend strategist and cultural researcher who explores the intersection of consumer behavior, technology, lifestyle, and design shifts to identify and translate emerging trends into new product opportunities to help clients anticipate and plan for the future. Prior to launching her own business, Tsveti Enlow Consulting in 2019, Enlow held positions with Icebreaker, including Global trend & consumer insights manager and International merchandise manager among others. We caught up with Tsveti recently to see what’s on her radar these days.
Q1: How does a trend strategist differ from a trend forecaster?
In my view, the role of a trend strategist is not limited to creating trend reports, but also advising clients on how these trends will specifically impact their business. In addition, a trend strategist can utilize trend insights to lead workshops, develop future scenarios, and create strategies that align with the client’s objectives.
Q2: What role does travel play in conducting in-market research and can you provide an example of an event or place that was helpful in your work?
As a trend person, your brain never really stops observing, gathering signals, and analyzing patterns. Traveling and being in the world is essential to the trend process. It is the time where you connect the dots between sometimes seemingly unrelated events, and suddenly, the whole puzzle falls into place. Traveling allows you to observe people’s behavior and immerse yourself in the culture. It inspires you and provides new ways to see things. I travel extensively, scouting retail, design, and lifestyle shifts while covering various trade shows and design events across the U.S. and Europe.
One of my favorite events, which I attend annually, is Dutch Design Week. This event brings together young and emerging designers from all over the world to showcase solutions for creating a better world. It provides early indicators of emerging themes in design and socio-cultural contexts, but above all, it gives me hope for the future. There are so many solutions being presented; we just need to adopt and scale them.
Q3: Please elaborate on the theme “Re-Balancing,” and why it is important to Re-Balance rather than Re-Invent?
We are currently in a phase of great transformation, trying to figure out a new political and economic system and a new version of society. The increased levels of stress caused by climate, political, and social anxieties are driving a strong desire to reset and change the systems. To challenge our anthropocentric way of living, we need to re-balance our connection to nature, ourselves, and technology. Philosopher and environmentalist Glen Albrecht proposes that the next version of human history will involve humans and nature existing in harmonious interactions where all life is interconnected. In the Age of Symbiocene, humans will live within the limits of nature, requiring a “harmonious integration of human industry and technology with physical and living systems at all scales.” This may seem utopian to some, but it is important to remember that this is how humans used to live, and somewhere along the line, we began to see ourselves as separate from nature. Only by realizing that we are a part of nature can we achieve balance and potentially reinvent ourselves.
Q4: How are today’s emerging cultural influences and shifts in corporate and consumer behavior impacting textile innovation?
There are many examples of textile innovations. One that I am really passionate about is the rise of Neuroaesthetics design and its ability to nurture wellbeing as a response to increased levels of anxiety and stress among societies. A recent example that I saw is by the Dutch studio Alissa+Nienke. In collaboration with psychologists and sensorial curators, they created interactive spaces using textiles and materials to stimulate the senses and enhance wellbeing. These spaces are designed to influence specific moods based on the mental state of the user.
In the outdoor apparel industry, designing for rest and recovery is becoming just as important as designing for peak performance. By incorporating new technologies such as programmable textiles, biomimicry, and haptic technologies, apparel can help regulate temperature and prevent injuries. Additionally, using bio-fibers that release minerals that aid in muscle relief can help create a more mindful approach to performance. The future of apparel will link the mind with the body to provide solutions for a more mindful approach to performance.
Q5: What developments are on the horizon that you are most excited about?
The integration of physical and digital tools is enabling greater co-creation and customization in the fashion industry. The whole made-to-order space is fascinating and has a potential to revolutionize how clothes are made. Things like overproduction, material waste and returns can be significantly reduced. Take Unspun jeans for example, they use fit tech and 3D weaving machines to deliver a customized product in the span of 2-3 weeks for the price of normal jeans.
Q6: What advice can you share with the textile community about how to approach product development to create successfully for the future?
My advice is to zoom out and look for inspirations and solutions beyond the obvious. I like the quote by Albert Einstein in that, “we cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” Put on your futurist hat and look at the 5 year + development horizon and work backward. We have to transform the way we make materials into a regenerative process. Advancements in biotechnology, generative design, digitalization, and even 4D printing will fundamentally change the way we develop materials. So, I would say that you should aim to operate at the intersection of technology, nature, and future consumer needs.
3 Trends for 2023
A re-evaluation of waste: redefining waste from ugly to useful.
Designers are finding innovative ways to repurpose and give new value to materials that were previously considered waste. From new dying processes to recycling color from discarded textiles to pigments derived from pollutants and industrial waste, designers are using waste to generate value and disrupt the perception of waste from ugly to useful and beautiful.
A greater awareness of soil potential and regenerative farming for fiber
To raise awareness starts with educating people on the importance of living soils and how regenerative practices have a positive impact on our health and the environment. Regenerative materials can restore the balance between nature and human consumption.
Advancement in 3D printing with natural materials
The advancements I see are predominantly in the interior space and architecture. Omlab, for example, is 3D printing structures using cellulose from municipal wastewater.