While fashion may trigger quick-developing trends, there are still opposing forces both slowing down and accelerating the speed at which they take hold, observed Henrik Vejlgaard, a Danish fashion consultant, trend sociologist and author of a new book, "Anatomy of a Trend" (McGraw-Hill, $21.95).
In fact, the pace at which trends are being adopted has remained much the same in recent years, he contended in a phone interview from Copenhagen, because the capacity of the Internet to disseminate information in a matter of moments is offset by the rate at which people are willing to give something new a try. For example, noted Vejlgaard, a former art and architecture journalist, the green design trend that began attaining critical mass in the U.S. in the past couple of years was "under the radar" for about a decade. "It probably will be another 10 years" till it fades from its status as a new trend, he projected, "because it's a social process and millions of people have to adopt this."
Here, the fashion product development and innovation specialist talks about his book and what to expect around the corner.
WWD: Much has been written about trends in recent years, such as Malcolm Gladwell's bestsellers, "Tipping Point" and "Blink." What prompted you to write "Anatomy of a Trend" at this time?
Henrik Vejlgaard: I worked in the fashion industry since the [early] Nineties, and often attended trend forecasts. It's not like [trends] just happen out of the blue. I was curious when somebody makes a statement — why? How? It's about analysis of what is going on. When people make forecasts from intuition, it can be inspiring, but it can also be very risky.
Now, there's an interest in retro design and organic design. Sort of the opposite of minimalism.
WWD: What trends do you anticipate having the most impact on fashion marketers in the near-term?
H.V.: It is a back-to-nature thing that is the overall trend. Raw surfaces. Imperfections. These are major things — an aesthetic — that will be appealing in the next two, three, five years.WWD: What inspired you on your trip to New York last fall?
H.V.: Lingo, on West 19th Street; that was the greatest store. The owner takes small collections of unique pieces from local designers that are not very well known. Most are collections with an artisanal touch. Several of the designers create [clothing, accessories and jewelry] with recycled and-or organic materials.
Room Service restaurant is one of the trendiest I visited in New York, because of its interior design. It is the opposite of minimalist style. It is Nouveau Baroque, with dramatic colors and many decorative elements.
WWD: Is the way trends develop changing with the rise of media like blogs and video posts?
H.V.: For me, it is just different media. It probably has been speeding things up a little bit. But trend spreaders don't want to change their style any more frequently than they do now, which is about every six months. The knowledge we have of something new goes faster, but that isn't the same thing as adopting new trends.
WWD: What inspired your own interest in trends?
H.V.: At the very beginning, I was a journalist working at a magazine that was like Elle in Denmark [Alt For Damerne], writing about design, architecture and art. As a journalist, I wanted to write about what was new. In 1991, I suggested to my editor a piece about white walls coming back. A few years later, it was white walls.
Trends that go global start in the world's biggest cities. In the U.S., it's New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
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