DISCUSSING TRENDS WITH
FARAH LIZ PALLARO
Based on more than 15 years working in the fashion industry as a trend forecaster, Farah Liz Pallaro gives us the lowdown on how trends come to exist in the world of fashion and how to identify them like a pro.
Let’s talk about trends: we are constantly surrounded by them... and whether we choose to acknowledge them or not, we are bound to encounter them in fashion magazines, on the internet, or anywhere on the streets of Toronto. I had always been fascinated by the nature of fashion trends; I always thought that if everyone has their own style and way of expressing themselves fashionably, why do people fall into the latest fads that make them no different than everyone else? What is the best way to identify and predict trends in the world of fashion? And what is it about certain designers and fashionistas that make them trendsetters?
These questions have always stuck with me, but I was never quite able to determine the answer all by myself. So, I did my research and found the perfect expert to ask about my trend-identity crisis: Farah Liz Pallaro - as someone who has worked in the industry for over 15 years, she’s had the chance to see trends come and go and deeply analyze these patterns over the past decade and a half.
Farah started her professional trend research in 2010 as a trend research consultant for WGSN, one of the biggest and most successful trend analysis resources on the internet. She covered a variety of resources such as trade shows, fashion shows and retail, and helped them to determine what would become popular and what they should focus on. However, WGSN began to expand by covering more content eventually became a style site as well as a trend forecasting site. Many people who worked there did not agree with this. So, Farah, along with several other co-workers, moved to Fashion Scoop - a trend forecasting site that is smaller but more focused on analyzing trends. “WGSN was becoming too big - it changed a lot,” she said, “I prefer Fashion Scoop, where I can focus more on researching trends in visual merchandising and help clients who need this information.”
I asked about the most effective way to identify trends, and she said that she prefers to travel to stores and speak directly with the people who work for these brands. According to Farah, the best research is primary research - it is always better to get your own perspective on the information you seek because the result is a more thorough and accurate understanding. You could never compare the accuracy of your own research to any other form of secondary research, “and besides,” said Farah, “I don’t cope with the internet! I graduated in 2001, and we had to learn how to do our research directly.” She makes a good point: our latest generation is known for being lazy because we rely on the internet to find absolutely everything we want to know; but we forget that the best way to learn is by experiencing and learning by ourselves.
I asked Farah what exactly she looks for when she visits stores to analyze trends. She said that she pays attention to how brands communicate products to customers: “Lately, high-end designers have gone for a very minimal store layout in order to draw more attention to the product,” which makes sense to me because it is better to focus more creativity on the product rather than the layout of where it is sold. This saves so much money for designers and brands because they do not need to spend a great deal of time and money on interior design anymore.
“You also don’t need to go full-out in window displays anymore! You can tag customers through e-commerce and social media pages instead.” - which brings us back to one of the biggest trends of our generation: the internet. Most of us are either lazy or simply do not have the time to travel from store to store, and as a result we would rather shop online. So designers and brands should save their time and money to enhance their identity and shopping online, where they have a better chance of gaining customers and admirers.
I finally had to ask my final and burning question: why do certain designers and fashionistas become trendsetters, what makes their designs and styles so special that everyone wants to follow them? “They focus on macro trends”, said Farah, “they know what’s going on in the world, and they express these situational influences through fashion.”
She gives the example of when Balmain relaunched their brand fifteen years ago: they came out with an army-inspired line, which was right around the time that the U.S. army fought with Afghanistan after the 9/11 incident. The designers pulled real-life inspiration from the war between the U.S. and Afghanistan, making the line more relatable to customers, and ultimately more desirable. The army style trend became a huge hit in the world of fashion.