How does a trend expert work? What is a trend really, and how do they even spot and analyze trends? We have asked Trend sociologist and author, Henrik Vejlgaard who has been named as one of the world’s 10 leading trend sociologists.

This is a small excerpt from the book ‘Trendsociology v. 2.0’, published by pej gruppen. Buy the book here.

Why and how did you become a trend expert?
Through my previous work as a consultant, I was frequently asked questions such as: Why did the style change? What does the word trend mean? Can you predict a fashion? I sought answers within the existing literature, but I do not think I found the answers that matched my own observations. That is why I started to do my own research, and it led to me writing my first book about what a trend is, and how style changes. My interest has always been to understand the trend process because if you know and understand the process, you have the key to being able to work with all kinds of trends. Trend sociologist is not a protected title, but you cannot call yourself a researcher without being able to give an account of your methods. I choose to write books because I wanted to help educate practitioners in working with trends based on a methodical approach, since this is the only way the trend profession can achieve credibility.

Why is it important to forecast trends?
Trends are the key to a great deal of innovation, especially innovation that characterises the so-called creative industries. Historically, these industries have been shaped by – and marked by – consumers wanting to copy the trendsetters, and by the professional designers having been inspired by the most innovative designers and other trend creators. It is (as mentioned) a social process, and it is the process by which a trend sociologist wants to analyse and understand. For the various industries to understand this, they can innovate on a more secure basis than merely putting their trust in anyone’s intuition.

How do you define the concept of a trend?
When I started exploring the trend process, the word trend was only used and understood in the field of statistics and design – and of course, in two very different ways. However, both disciplines primarily used and use the word to describe the same thing: a social change process – in other words, an innovative process where something, such as style, is altered by people. So trends are about human behaviour. Regardless of how you work with trends and what
you might call yourself, trends are about people allowing themselves to be inspired by each other, and creative companies being inspired by trendsetters – because the latter sets the agenda for future consumption.

Which types of trends interest you the most?
My interest is in the entire trend process, not just the beginning of the trend process, which is what most people working with trends focus on. I get the most work consulting on when something new becomes mainstream. For many companies, the key is to be commercial more than being first with the latest trends. The trend processes that I have documented in my books are first and foremost about style and design and to a certain extent about food. Today I also work with trends in the experience industry.

How and where do you discover trends?
I follow the 10-step method that I have documented in my book “Anatomy of a trend”. The method requires that you know what is going on in some of the world’s most central metropolises. Because what is happening in these metropolises will become global trends. A trend may well occur in Denmark, but for it to become a global trend, it must go via London, New York, Paris, Los Angeles and/or a few other big cities. Beyond that, one of the basic premises is that trendsetters create trends, and therefore it is them you must observe, almost regardless of where in the world they are. To be able to use the observation technique as a method is at the heart of the practical part of trend sociology.

Are you interested in getting your hands on the entire book, (it’s 400 pages), it is possible to buy here.

The book consists of three parts:
1. Theory and practical description of what a trend is, how it is spread and what effect it may have.
2. Interview with 17 of the world’s top trend researchers
3. Practical process description (5 phased process) with concrete methods and tools for working with trends.