An Analysis of Trends and Trend Forecasting: Pt 1

November 9, 2018

Gwyneth Chen


Whenever we ask ourselves or others "Should I buy this?", "Should I wear this?" "Is this cute?", the same thought is in mind - is this fashionable?

As a Cognitive Neuroscience major, I've always wondered how people make decisions on what they wear, what factors dictate what is in style and what is not. A decade ago, people who dared to step out of the house in sweatpants and a hoodie were seen as lazy, receiving comments like "did you just wake up?", “nice pjs!”.  Yet today, the matching sweats and cropped hoodie co-ord makes headlines, making streetwear and casual brands like Fila and Champion fashionable. Somehow, the business world seems to be able to capture and predict these trends to create effective marketing strategies tailored to consumer tastes.

Fashion is influenced by many things, such as current events, political, economical, and social, including social figures such as celebrities and well known figures. The reality is that no one can be 100% certain of what the exact trend may be. Instead, these trend forecasters can look at different inputs whom have effects on trends.

In this piece, we will examine how trends exist within different levels of the market. This will allow us to further explore trend forecasting and trend analysis.

Levels of Market

The fashion market can be broken into 7 distinct levels:

  1. Value Market (i.e. Walmart)

  2. Mass Market High Street (i.e. H&M)

  3. Mid Level High Street (i.e. Topshop)

  4. High-End High Street (i.e. Allsaints)

  5. Diffusion Brands (i.e. Paris by Karl Lagerfeld)

  6. Luxury Brands (i.e. Karl Lagerfeld)

  7. Haute Couture (i.e. Gucci)

Although these markets share similar features, each one uses different strategies to evaluate and follow trends. To look at how these markets vary, we will focus on how four brands permeate their respective markets: H&M of the Mass Market High Street, AllSaints of the High-End High Street, Karl Lagerfeld of Luxury Brands, and Gucci of Haute Couture.

Across each market, we break down a specific trend: the turtleneck sweater.


Mass Market High Street - H&M

This H&M turtleneck sweater has an 'oversized' style to it, with baggy sleeves coming from its dropped shoulders tightening at the wrist. The sweater is made with 90% acrylic and 10% wool and large threading, creating a heavy, baggy look.


High End High Street - Allsaints

Allsaints has a very distinct style - a very smooth, flowy look. In contrast to H&M, which focuses on chunky and oversized, Allsaints creates an elegant look through length rather than bagginess. To highlight this, they use wool and cashmere.


Luxury Brand - Karl Lagerfeld

This sweater is a departure from Karl Lagerfeld's typical style, influenced by the avant-garde style of designer Yohji Yamamoto. The cropped turtleneck is the only sweater in the line, made in collaboration with teen model Kaia Gerber.


Haute Couture - Gucci

Similar to that of Karl Lagerfeld, the Gucci turtleneck has a ribbed pattern and slim fit but is longer. One key thing to note is that the Gucci logo is not apparent on the design of the sweater.


Despite some variations in the different necklines, fitting, and style, there is one definitive feature shared by all four sweaters: a short length, falling above the beltline. This is unlike the long length (reaching the upper thighs) predominantly seen across the market a couple of years ago.

Why does looking and analyzing these different trends matter? This analysis of the different brands of sweater, their similarities and differences show one thing: though each brand has its unique style, they share common traits which deems them "fashionable" to the taste of consumers.

This piece has only explained the importance of looking at trends. The next article explains how forecasting instruments work and how socio-political and socio-economic factors may be able to predict trends ahead of time.