The sci-fi subgenre that obsesses over ornate steam-driven creations and the urban practice of dressing well to bicycle share very little DNA, but both are examples of slow-moving trends that offer opportunities for brands to connect with very specific consumer groups.
Tapping into such trends has always been a matter of getting on the right bandwagon before it gets rolling — earning street cred for being current and catching enough of the action to make something of it. But trends and memes have become more promiscuous with blogs, message boards and social networks facilitating a continuous global conversation on everything, all at once.
The question for brands looking to tap into trends has become, “How to get there before the Twitter hashtag?”
IBM has a techie answer.
The company’s “Birth of a Trend” project has developed an algorithm that sifts through social media and other sites to find “weak signals” — things that only a few people are talking about but register as genuinely new and have the potential to hit the big time.
The project looks for telling juxtapositions in online commentary, as well as signs of people struggling to describe something they’ve never seen before, said Trevor Davis, consumer products expert with IBM’s Global Business Services.
Davis’ radar started picking up hints in 2006 of a more fashionable kind of bicycling, with old-school bikes and riders dressed to the nines. Mikael Colville-Andersen — a sort of patient zero for the chic cycling phenomenon — started his Cycle Chic blog in Copenhagen the following year.
“A lot of people gathered around that site,” Davis said. “What we’ve done is track, over a period of years, how the sentiment around the thing called Cycle Chic has changed and grown. What this trend is showing is that there are people out there who have a different outlook on life, particularly around the relationship between how they transport themselves and their goods around cities.”
The trend then jumped to Portland, Ore., and Outlier, in New York, introduced its “bike-to-boardroom” pants. London’s Tweed Run started on Savile Row in 2009, and by 2010, people were talking about chic cycling from Sydney to Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro to Mexico City. Then came the Missoni for Target bicycle for $399 and the Bianchi by Gucci bike for $14,000.
“When you start to see commercial businesses get involved, that’s another good indicator that the trend is…amplifying,” Davis said.
Early on, trends often find their most fertile ground in communities that are connected to the arts or design, or favor alternative lifestyles. So trends tend to jump between the likes of not just Berlin, Paris, New York, Sydney and Shanghai, but also Portland or Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, which Davis described as “one of the most digitally connected cities in the world.”
Trends are combining now, tripping over each other, said Davis, noting brands have to participate in the right way, one that makes sense for the trend.
“Spotting the trend is one thing, deciding what to do about it as a big company is another thing altogether,” he said. “There’s a lot of inertia in big companies.”
Davis said the Levi’s brand has been smart about Cycle Chic and how it tapped into the trend, launching the cyclist-friendly Commuter by Levi’s jeans with very targeted marketing.
Research by IBM shows that Steampunk, which has been around since at least the early Nineties, is still boiling just below the surface.
Rihanna arrived at the Paralympics closing ceremony this month on a Steampunk pirate ship, and, Davis said, the social-media world lit up, with devotees seeing Steampunk as having arrived and the uninitiated trying to understand what they were seeing.
“I think Steampunk is going through some kind of birth in the mainstream,” Davis said.
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion