THURSDAY, 6 MARCH 2014
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the haughty Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, choosing between two shades of blue, is how fashion trends are created. Today, however, the world of fashion is forced to play a different game as tastes are broadcasted on Twitter, on Facebook pages, pinned to Pinterestboards, and shared over Tumblr. Brand names like Asos and Gap are using this information to decide next season’s trends.
At London Fashion Week this year, bomber jackets, ‘90s throwbacks, and “functional” wear were all spotted on the catwalk. Fashion aficionados and the people who aspire after the fashionista lifestyle will either be donning these clothes, or looking for their imitations in big retailers.
Fashion, along with almost every other consumer market, is adapting to the digital marketplace. Indeed, retailers like Asos and smaller online stores have gained customers by conquering the Internet, taking advantage of being able to market and distribute globally. Now, almost inevitably, these stores and plenty of others are taking what the customer is saying very seriously, even when it’s not being said directly to them.
A team of analysts attended the shows in person, harvesting images of the runway models.
In some cases, retailers are paying closer attention now to data analysts than fashion experts. These analysts can use Twitter data, for example, to see what fashion items are trending and whether the feedback is positive or negative.
“If Rihanna wears a red-leather suit, it might be really hot on Twitter, but are they saying she looks good or bad? asked Katie Smith, the senior fashion retail analysts for Editd, a small company based in London that specialises in acquiring data on fashion trends. “We don’t know until we look at the responses themselves.”
Companies pay to use Editd’s software, and it supplies them with information on trends in fashion online and what their competitors are up to.
“There are two aspects to the data we collect,” Smith said. “The first is social listening, like on Twitter or blogs. The second is commercial data, which we take from retailer websites around the world. It’s surface-level information, the stuff you see. So, for example, let’s say Asos has just brought in eight new backpacks: in X sizes, Y colours, and Z prices. We update that data in real-time.”
To gather information on fashion trends, Editd was on-deck during London Fashion Week to provide the latest information on what was hot or not. A team of analysts attended the shows in person, harvesting images of the runway models. They then compared those images with what was popular online and used this information to identify trends.
Communications Director Laura Grigerova describes a more “colourful” part of the process: “We also use software which looks at every single runway outfit,” she said. “ It takes out face colour, eye colour etcetera and it creates a fashion wheel, so we can see what’s appearing on the runaway. The centre of the colour wheel shows what prominent shades will appear in the next season.”