How does a trend expert work? What is a trend really, and how do they even spot and analyze trends? We have asked the danish trend forecaster Sara Ingemann.

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?
In general, I’m really interested in change. As a trend forecaster and ‘lifestyle detective’, I detect patterns and shifts in attitudes, mindsets and lifestyle patterns that go against the current thinking of how people live, dress, communicate and consume. I combine my intuition for seeing new trends with in-depth research and knowledge about the current project or subject I’m working on. It’s important to validate my findings, as many brands might invest a lot of money in the research, designing new products or fashion collections based on our trend reports and findings. Working as a trend forecaster is not a protected title and is a generalist discipline consisting of people with different professional backgrounds. Therefore it has been important for me to specialize in a field like fashion and design to be able to translate the trend scenarios into useful lifestyle products,
services or communication platforms for these brands. For me it’s very natural to collect and recognize trends at an emerging stage. This is something I do on a daily basis, while reading, browsing visual images on social media, visiting art exhibitions, travelling and interviewing first movers, etc. As a person I’m curious, have an open mind and like to seek change.

Why is it important to spot trends?
A trend forecaster’s work is to focus on changes. I predict, explain and systematize change when I work with new trends or directions. Often the future is already present here and now, but you will have to be aware of collecting enough research material before you can start mapping, analysing and relating your findings. If you understand the life cycle of trends by identifying and mapping them and can predict how long they will last, it can be a very measurable tool for designing and customizing new products, services, fashion and design collections. It is especially the lifestyle industry that needs to be at the forefront of new trends. But also brands from other industries need to be aware of shifts to make themselves relevant in the market. This can be a huge challenge to marketers, as consumers have a major influence today. For brands it is getting more and more important not to overlook trends as they can also be a key driver for innovation.

How do you define the concept of a trend?
A trend refers to a general direction or movement. This trend is the direction in which something tends to move, and which has a
consequential impact on future society, culture, consumer behaviour, living patterns, etc. There are many synonyms associated with a trend: A movement or direction, a reaction to the existing and a deviation from the norm. Trends can in general be influenced by world events, economic shifts and conditions, social change, entertainment, subculture, technological innovation, fashion leaders and social media influencers, and can have a fundamental impact on how we live, consume and do business.

Which types of trends interest you the most?
As a trend forecaster I register everything from a significant paradigm shift to megatrends and all the way down to microtrends and fads. On a professional level I mostly focus on micro and macro for fashion and design brands. Some of the trends that I’m working with continue for a period, but mutate in different directions like slow fashion, slow food and slow living. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the different trend types and the maturation of a trend. All products have a life cycle, where new styles are introduced to the market, last for a certain period of time, decline and finally disappear. This framework of fashion and design change is important to understand when working and identifying trends.

How and where do you discover trends?
Trends and inspiration can be found in many different places and often appear as a reaction to what already exists. Over the years my research has changed from doing a lot of travelling to social media, interviews, reading books, visiting libraries and desktop research for visual inspiration. The challenge of looking into the future is to understand the past and see how these patterns can be translated into a contemporary scenario. Are there similarities or differences and how can I use this in my research? This should be understood in the context that things come in life cycles and then it’s all about
timing and updating the findings to a modern solution. Depending on the project, my trend research varies from identifying and interviewing first movers, mapping out their lifestyle to get new knowledge about what the future will bring, to looking into and
understanding colours and materials. As many of the clients and brands I’m working with come from the creative industry, it’s vital to be tactile and understand textiles. When my creative process starts, I read, listen and look around for change. Then I systemize and map my trend findings and finally communicate the new trends.

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.