Trend Tracking In House
Using trend forecasting firms is nothing new for apparel and footwear companies.
But often before those thought-provoking presentation decks are prepared, fabric and technology suppliers/marketers already know what’s next. Their work starts at the fiber, the very root of the supply chain.
We’ve chatted up three industry executives to see what is currently fueling their fire when it comes to fabric trends.
Role: “I’m involved with in-house trend forecasting researching trends on fabrics, technologies, colors, and silhouettes in order to anticipate good solutions to brands (our clients).”
Importance of Internal Forecasting: “Working for a textile supplier is different from researching trends as a brand because you need to be aware not just about the trends for retail like colors and prints, but also anticipate new technologies and fabrics before the brand is aware of them. When a brand decides to use a specific technology or a fabric, it means that all processes, certifications, production scale issues and supply chain steps need to be set up to accommodate.”
Future Trends: “After a minimalist Covid period, I can see bicolor and bright colored mélanges on jerseys and piques. Prints are back again, along with natural looking surfaces and textures. I’m seeing mélange stripes and solid stripes along with space fabrics that have mesh on side for breathability. There are fabrics treated with odor control, provide thermal balance and have permanent performance qualities. Comfort and sustainability are the most important pillars for any collection, even for fashion.”
Director of Fashion Marketing
Role: “The Fashion Marketing team puts together four comprehensive, inspirational trend forecasts each year for our clients. The forecasts are innovative digital presentations and color cards consisting of lifestyle trends, color direction, and most importantly cotton fabric direction and inspiration. The FABRICAST fabric library is a series of collections designed by Cotton Incorporated’s product development team. Trend forecasters and fabric developers work closely throughout the ideation and development process to create cotton fabrics that inspire the textile supply chain to use cotton in new and different ways.”
Importance of Internal Forecasting: “Working collaboratively in-house enables our fashion trend and product development teams to create more successful fabric collections and forecasts. Our team of experts work together to build programs to promote cotton over competitive fibers. It’s important to work with trend analysts to understand where the market is moving and what are the interests of consumers. Armed with this knowledge, clients can create product lines that will have a better chance of being successful once they land on the retail shelf.”
Future Trends: “As we move into the Fall/Winter 23/24 season we are seeing a focus on fabrics with exaggerated texture, whether that be through yarn size or construction; softened jacquards in monotone colorways have multiple applications. We see an emphasis on fabrics that tell a story or highlight culture, utilizing techniques such as patchwork, tapestry, or piecing. We love the inflections of bright color and pattern, fabrics that are joyful and fun. Color is taking center stage in all sorts of constructions ranging from lightweight shirting fabrics to sweater knits.
Cotton Incorporated is seeing interest in cotton fabrics that are minimally processed utilizing less water, energy, and chemistry. They are also seeking cotton fleece-alternatives and cotton performance through construction, especially when it comes to knits. They also want cotton denim.”
Vice President of Fabric Innovation
Role: “My role is to provide sourcing and innovation support, from initial concept to production, for our brand partners. Trend forecasting is important because it enables us to collect insights which we can then share with our brand partners from an outside perspective to help identify white space opportunities within their collections.”
Importance of Internal Forecasting: “Being on the front end creates a larger platform of innovation! We have the opportunity to work with multiple brands and categories on trend concepts, developments and sustainability projects. Every brand has different DNA with different needs so it definitely keeps us on our toes.”
Future Trends: “For Spring/Summer 2024, we are continuing to see focus on responsibly-sourced materials with zero waste approaches, while also providing consumers with better basics, functional fashion, and seasonless comfort/performance. Sustainability is currently at the forefront of all requests. Since launching Enhanced Biodegradation (+EB) technology, we are in the process of educating our brand partners on the importance of having an EB additive in synthetic fibers — especially with the increase in cost, lead-time and current supply limitations of recycled fibers such as nylon. All of our yarns/fibers are available in recycled versions, but if our brand partners cannot meet margins using recycled options, we offer EB additive at no additional cost.”