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The concept of trends and fashion have been linked since the dawn of the modern fashion system in the early 20th century. Trends allow fashion to be divided into digestible chunks for the general public who may not be familiar with all its nuances. But how do these trends emerge? Here’s how you can spot and predict trends like a professional.

1) Consider politics and world events:

Although the world of fashion can be quite insular, people within the industry are not immune to the leading issues or movements of their time. The past few years have seen rapid growth in countries such as China and India and that has been reflected on the runways. Asian themes of all kinds found their way into clothes from all over the world. Also, when America went to war with Afghanistan and Iraq, a clear militant trend emerged in the collections and lasted for many years.

2) Think about any major art or fashion exhibitions of the recent past:

While the debate regarding fashion’s validity as an art form may never be resolved, the two communities are quite close and share a great deal. Yves Saint Laurent responded to the work of Mondrian in his collections and Marc Jacobs makes frequent references to the work of Cindy Sherman and Rachel Feinstein, especially after Sherman had a retrospective at MoMA a couple of years ago. Art aside, fashion often inspires other fashion and the Madame Grés and Yves Saint Laurent shows of recent years have inspired numerous designers.

3) Find out who the top editors and stylists are:

To a degree, trends are completely fabricated. Just because the industry decides that pink or ballet-inspired skirts are the most prominent concepts doesn’t mean that other ideas didn’t circulate throughout the collections as well. All editors and stylists have their personal preferences, just like everyone else, and the favoritism can show. A certain stylist might really love slim pants, while an editor adores short fur jackets. Before long those things end up in the magazines and, eventually, on bodies. Trends are ultimately the choice of those who dispense images of fashion to the public.

4) Culture is key:

Until the 1960s it was expected that young women in the Western Hemisphere would dress exactly like their mothers no matter how old they might be. The 60s brought youth and energy into fashion (and everything else) and changed the rules forever. The emergence of social media and other digital technologies has had an equally profound effect on the youngest generation of designers. Be conscious of societal evolution and it won’t be long before those ideas are incorporated into clothes.

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