Welcome to the future.

How to Predict the Future | 5 Things You Need to Know

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I recently received an email from someone interested in pursuing a career in trend forecasting. After sending my reply, I thought other readers might appreciate these insider tips as well. I’ve already spent some time discussing the art and science of trend forecasting in some of my first blog posts, but for those of you just tuning in, a little refresher may be in order. Keep in mind however, that other trend forecasters may describe this work and/or their ways of tracking recent developments in fashion and lifestyle differently than I do. There is by no means only one way to pursue this field of study.

1. Get on Pinterest: If you haven’t already fallen in love with Pinterest yet, there’s no time like the present. Start collecting images that really “grab” you. Start listening to that inner voice that alerts you to something that seems inexplicably cool. It may take you time to figure out why a photo has caught your attention, but you need to start trusting your gut (it’s much smarter than we give it credit for).

2. Get acquainted with history (fashion and otherwise). Many times we see the resurgence of specific decades (think 1920’s, 1960’s, or all those oversized 80’s sweaters and sweatshirts we’re seeing right now, for example.) It’s helpful to learn what similarities or differences or parallels may be occurring between our presents, possible futures and pasts. Fashion tends to repeat itself the same way history does. When you begin to understand fashion as a cultural mirror, you’ll discover that fashion isn’t as superficial as some critics would like us to believe. Fashion is a fantastic and anticipatory art form that speaks as much to individual identity as it does to a greater aesthetic imagination. It quietly informs and drives the birth of new social ideologies; and revives memory and ancestry through color, print, texture and silhouette.

3. Brush up on your mythology.  My analyses for example, are enriched by over 7 years of academic research. My experience has been rooted in an interdisciplinary foray into the fields of gender, culture, religion, art, architecture, aesthetics and cross-cultural mythology. If you’re secretly a super nerd like I am, I would highly recommend reading Joseph Campbell’s, The Power of Myth, as well as Fashion at the Edge, by Caroline Evans. One of my mentors, Linda Loppa, called Evans’ book her “fashion bible” – high praise from the woman who helped launch the careers of the Antwerp 6. I recommend The Power of Myth because Campbell articulates beautifully the relationship between imagination and mythos; both of which go hand-in-hand with trend forecasting.

4. Go shopping. No, seriously. It’s important to stay in touch with what’s current in order to anticipate what’s coming next. Whether you prefer brick-and-mortar or e-commerce (or a healthy dose of both), get out there and let your intuition be your guide.

5. Take a walk. Sometimes the best thing you can do to get to inspired is to get away from it all. Get away from your computer and let your mind wander. Spend some time in Nature. There’s a lot to be said for getting grounded and letting one’s mind unwind and de-stress.

If you have other trend forecasting questions, sound off in the comments section below!

Photo credits: Utterly Smitten, Aleksandra Zaborowska, Manger

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