How does a trend expert work? What is a trend really, and how do they even spot and analyze trends? We have asked David Shah, Dutch publisher, owner of Metropolitan Publishing and professor at Artez Art Academy, where he teaches branding and marketing.

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 forecaster?

As a publisher, I was asked to speak at a lot of conventions and seminars etc. I discovered that, sometimes, it could be more exciting to talk about lifestyle, human behaviour, and consumers rather than pure fashion trends and that was when I launched Viewpoint, my magazine that specialises in design, branding, and lifestyle trends.

Why is it important to work with trends?

For me, the point of trend spotting today is to offer clarity, to strip away the peripheral, the ‘stuffocation’. Designers know everything already. What they need is not more information but confirmation. Am I doing the right thing? Am I making the right choices?

How do you define the concept of a trend?

Actually, I have never really liked the word ’trend’ I prefer terms like ‘direction’. What is important is to separate the final acknowledgement or arrival of a trend from the process of trends, i.e. where does it start, how does it travel, and where does it end. You find trends in the periphery not the established centre.

Which types of trends interest you the most?

Meeting and talking to the biggest designers and retailers in Europe has given me a serious understanding of what people really need to know: “Should I do black or should I do white?” etc. Also, I make a serious effort to give a reason why, a logical sales pitch they can sell on to their management and their staff.

How and where do you discover trends?

The secret is to understand the timing and how to update the concept to really make it relevant to the present. There are also cultural influences – art exhibitions, events, films etc. On a personal note, I travel over 300 days a year, there is no education like travelling, and I read constantly, especially financial based magazines and newspapers.

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.