10 November 2022

Talk with Elizabeth Bowring, Head of Catwalks at WGSN and mentor of the The IED Master in Fashion Trend Forecasting

The Master in Fashion Trend Forecasting (start date april 2023) will provide you with analytical tools to understand what a fashion trend is; you will learn how to conduct primary and secondary research, distinguish between long-term, medium-term, and short-term trends, and apply the trends to fashion brands and products to make them relevant and profitable through both visual and verbal techniques. In today’s post-demographic and post-truth environment, you need an organized system for channeling your visionary being. A trend forecasting strategy can address the innovation drivers of today’s society, ranging from product convergence to affirming positive values - such as sustainability and inclusivity - to disintermediation, making it possible for authors with something to say to self-publish.

With a career that has seen her as a Fashion Director at Nordstrom and Stylesight to Head of Catwalks at WGSN, a significant contributor to several editorial platforms, Elizabeth Bowring is an international authority on runway shows and a forecaster of future trends. Her impressive knowledge of sartorial history and advanced design theory combined with a prescient vision connecting key trends in art, history, culture, catwalks, streetstyle and social


What are the benefits of studying in Florence for an international fashion student?

Trend forecasting, as mentioned, is the convergence of economics, science, statistics, innovation, the Arts, music, and culture. The thirst for knowledge and curiosity is a pre-requisite, as the function of future forecasting is to help predict, innovate, and question. Having worked in Florence for over five years, I have come to recognize the incredible benefits of studying in Florence. I remember my first day, walking through the city, mesmerized by the wealth of culture and learning that lay at my feet. Florence is the confluence and antithesis of this knowledge. Not only is it a beautiful city, but it is steeped in Art, history, architecture, and culture, making it the perfect study-abroad destination for those interested in or want to develop a career in Art, culture, and Fashion. (not to mention the wine, food, and incredible camaraderie of the people).

My students lay testament to this and have gone on to work in international businesses, contributing their wealth of knowledge gained by studying in Florence. It is the central hub from which to diversify or travel to other parts of Italy, providing the most unforgettable, exciting experience. Florence and its inspiration will stay with you for an eternity.


In the contemporary and future fashion industry, what does it mean to study Trend Forecasting?

The last 24 months have propelled the Fashion Industry with such speed that we must re-evaluate how and where we sit in the new global dynamic.  From geopolitical uncertainty to a widening economic gulf and an unceasing climate crisis, the threats we face are now genuinely existential. Sitting at the threshold of the transformative 20s, now, more than ever, businesses require guidance and direction if they aim to be relevant in the future. The bottom line for the success of any brand is to thoroughly investigate and understand what's now, what's new, and what is the future. Consequently, the valuable commodity of Trend Forecasting is more critical in today's contemporary fashion industry than at any other time. Trend Forecasting can assist companies with the right tools to examine critical cross-sector shifts emerging from a world in transition. It will open up the cultural insights, strategic implications and innovative solutions that will allow them to navigate change, unlock opportunity and thrive in a world of continuous uncertainty.

Researching and formulating trends is more challenging than it appears and requires deep analysis. In Fashion, the analysis is the convergence of economics, science, statistics, innovation, the Arts, music, and culture; it is also the evaluation of people, places, and things and how they influence others. Markets are also changing. Understanding a trend's history, how they move through culture, and how the memes play in dispersing trends over seemingly disconnected sectors is increasingly essential.  

Traditional, demographic-based criteria have given way to more modern psychographic patterns, meaning design teams need different skills, particularly as communities throughout society continue diversifying and consumers grow increasingly complex. 

The role of Trend Forecasting is complex, but if you are natural, early signals will come as an intuitive sixth sense. ‘Natural Forecasters’ can also detect, decode, and convert 'weak signals' into functional foresight and future possibilities.

Trend forecasters are in the business of creating opportunities for the future; brands don't have time, so you need forecasters to help manage the flow of information and put it into context. This course in Trend Forecasting will excite and stimulate every part of your mind and help you understand the enormous contribution you can make to the world.


How do you envision the future of Fashion concerning the contents of the course as a leader in the fashion industry and a mentor at IED Florence?

A forecaster's job is to analyze and alert you to what you do not see. And in doing so, making value, not extracting it, you can make a better tomorrow. First and foremost, one has to understand what a Trend is and what the business of Trend Forecasting embraces. A Trend Forecaster can work in areas as diverse as Fashion, beauty, tech, marketing, and innovation. Trend Forecasting is part art, part science, part math, and part magic, with a healthy level of intuitive sensitivity and an innate, unique ability to project into the future. By blending creative thinking and intuition with data and hard facts, and the latest innovations from factual research, we will, together, be able to propose future scenarios that may not have happened yet. A trend forecaster must quickly sense when the tide is changing, to recognise that heartbeat moment or as is also known, weak signals, emerge. 

We will also look at the different disciplines involved. How to cover and report on the research and development from and through:

  • Design and Product direction

  • Short and long-term strategies

  • Marketing and advertising campaigns

  • Brand positioning

  • Consumer understanding

When you consider the future through several lenses, it can help to create active orientation and open up opportunities for a new, forward-looking way of thinking, harnessing disruption proactively and strategically. The Future of Fashion is under extreme pressure to deliver relevancy to the world. We need to consider being serious about the future and what it means, to keep listening, looking, and learning about what's new and next; with that, together, we will imagine a better tomorrow. At IED, I will help you to learn to understand the signals of the future

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