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Nano Trend Spotting | Avoid The Biggest Error In Forecasting

| 7 min read

Nanotechnology is contributing immensely to the progress of materials, science, engineering, computing, and robotics. Understanding, shaping, and combining matter at the atomic and molecular scale is called nanotechnology. What benefits can we get when we understand trends at that level? This question led to the edit on “Nano Trend Spotting“. We cover the strategic advantage of getting trend spotting right and demonstrate a nano trend spotting with a live trend.

Trend Spotting and Competitive Advantage

Picking a quote from Gartner’s article (though pertaining to technology, very relevant for fashion and lifestyle retail too).

“ If you master trendspotting, you can offer your organization a distinct competitive advantage”

Gartner Article

We recommend the same four key steps for any brand in the adoption of trends.

  1. Assess the impact of the trend
  2. Evaluate trend maturity
  3. Determine market dynamics
  4. Make a contextual choice for your business

All of these four steps need data. The nature of data also plays a crucial role. Do supply-based trends help us to assess impact, maturity, market dynamics?

No

The supply information of what is out there in the global market carries the imperfection of errors in the forecast by the industry. This forecast error is significant to the extent of almost 50% reflected in the product performance success metrics. In order for us to get the real impact and dynamics, we need to get to consumer evidence which is consumer demand.

What is not “Nano Trend Spotting”?

Any trend which is too generalized is not a nano trend. For example, if someone says “Chain belts” or “Bright Bags” are a trend for 2022, it can mean so many things to so many people. This level of trend abstraction or generalization is plenty out there. The level of actionability is low. Even if there are pictures with the trend names, is there evidence for that to be a trend?

For want of any terminology, we will call such articulations as “Macro Trends”. One can consume them as trends only when there is evidence attached to them. In other words, when someone shares some trends with you, ask them, what is the evidence behind those trends.

The job for the designer or trend spotter or insights team is getting more and more difficult. There is too much information on trends. The key question is how does one validate and at what level?

Any trend which does not come with consumable information for product creation is not a “Nano Trend”. The trend must also be supported with consumer demand evidence.

Supply information is trivial while the consumer demand understanding at the internet scale is not trivial. We wrote about this in detail in our earlier article here.

Nano Trend Spotting | Y2K Macro Trend

One of the basic principles of fashion is 

“Fashions are evolutionary in nature; they are rarely revolutionary” 

Y2K is one such trend that has come back after a decade. This trend has the highest uptake over the past year across digital platforms. Since the onset of the pandemic, Pinterest recorded a staggering 699% rise in search of y2k inspired outfits in its top 100 trends for the year 2020. #y2kfashion led the way in online trends, generating more than 220 million TikTok views and seeing a 389 percent increase in usage for the term year on year.

Although this trend has re-emerged, it will fizzle out as a FAD unless there is mass acceptance.

At Stylumia, we follow the growth of trends over time to analyze their true demand, drawing the line between supply information and fashion demand information.  

In order to understand this trend, let us look at the lifecycle of the same ie: the introduction, rise, acceleration and acceptance – where we will look at the acceptance purely based on real consumer demand intelligence using Stylumia’s proprietary AI-powered Demand Sensing algorithm.

The year 2020 was one where the world went through a collective state of change. The Covid Pandemic created a ripple effect around the world, consumer behavior shifted and in many ways catapulted trends which were slowly building up in the background.

Introduction

Stepping back in time pre-pandemic, let’s look at how the Y2K trends such as claw clip, mini skirt, scrunchies, square-toed shoes, denim on denim looks were already making their way back slowly on the runway and through pop culture.

The revival started when Juicy Couture, a pioneer of athleisure and a status symbol in the early aughts                    (2000-2009) made their Couture fashion week debut in 2017, partnering with Vetements on velour tracksuit sets with the iconic rhinestone “Juicy” embellished on them.  

Alexander Wang brought back the Claw Clip at his Fall 2018 New York Fashion Week show in Feb 2018. And towards the end of the same year, Bella Hadid was spotted sporting a claw clip in the same fashion as Alexander Wang’s Fall 2018 runway show.  

RISE

Elsa Schiaparelli famously said, “In difficult times, fashion is always outrageous.”

When the Pandemic hit in 2020, people’s needs and so their idea of fashion changed, they picked comfort and utility over making a statement. But across the Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter 2021 shows showcased in late 2020 and early 2021, we saw Miu Mui, Saint Laurent, Versace, Michael Kors, and even the traditional Chanel opt for short pieces, from jackets to dresses to skirts. Overall Shrunken silhouettes made their way to the runway collections.

ACCELERATION

After over a year in lockdown when people spent most of their time indoors in casual and practical fashion like a pair of PJ’s and comfy slippers, swathed in blankets, in 2021 when going out and socializing became a reality, the 1st thing on people’s minds was to dress up. 

As we embraced the post-vax normalcy, the pent-up desire to dress up pushed fashion to get bolder & waistlines to grow dangerously lower. Suddenly there were multiple Y2K trends sported by popular figures in a culture like celebrities, musicians, and other high-profile individuals. 

Rhianna was spotted wearing a supermini denim skirt while out on a supermarket run in Los Angeles, Olivia Rodrigo’s “Brutal” music video which was released in August 2021 was a compilation of Y2K fashion and beauty trends.

Acceptance | The Nano Trend Spotting

This is the stage for a trend to come into the early stage of mainstream adoption. Also, this is when real supply meets the demand of the consumers.

We looked at the trend of a micro category “Mini Skirts” over autumn and winter across the years 2020 and 2021 across USA, UK & EU markets in two segments Luxury & Fast Fashion.

While brands have placed bets differentially across the two seasons, the interesting trend is consumers have accepted only a portion of the selection. This is reflected in the demand trend lower than the supply trend by almost half. The supply trend is the assortment difference of supply. This is what is typically reported by tools in the market. Stylumia analyses demand using proprietary demand sensing engines which give the demand pattern.

In fact, if one follows supply, the probability of error is almost twice that of demand-based trend spotting.

The magnitude of the difference of supply over demand across the two seasons comes clearly in the charts below. While supply dropped by 41%, demand dropped by 82% in the Luxury segment from Autumn 20 through Autumn 21. In fast fashion, supply went up by 77%, while demand went up by 133%. The demand information comes out of analyzing the top percentile movement of products launched.

Trends as spotted by Stylumia C.IT

While supply dropped by 21%, demand dropped by 33% in the Luxury segment from Autumn 20 through Autumn 21. In fast fashion, supply dropped up by 10%, while demand dropped up by 20%

Trends as spotted by Stylumia C.IT

This is the first step in trend-spotting using the consumer lens removing the noise of supply.

The next step is going to the nano level of what kind of miniskirts are appreciated by consumers (uptrending) and the ones not appreciated by consumers (down trending).

We extracted a select set of products on both sides of the spectrum in the Luxury and fast fashion markets as evidence.

Product Nano Trends Spotted In Stylumia C.IT
Product Nano Trends Spotted In Stylumia C.IT

The nano product trends clearly indicate what consumers prefer and what they do not.

In Conclusion

In this world of demand uncertainties, it is not only important to catch trends, but also to catch them right. It is also not enough to catch the macro-level understanding. The devil is in the details at the nano level and the opportunity is to reduce the error by almost 50% as indicated in this edit. The biggest side effect of getting the trend-spotting right is sustainability coming out of reducing wastage due to products that do not meet consumer demand.

If you are interested to know more about spotting nano trends informed by consumer demand, schedule a free demo here.

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