Fashion is a strange business and although a new season’s fashion trends might be splashed across magazine covers and trumpeted in stores these “trends” have followed a very long process. Some fashion is more spontaneous but this tends to be limited to small scale designers and producers, whereas the fashion industry normally follows a much longer path and quite structured timetable. As an image consultant or personal stylist it is important that we understand this process.
It all starts with fabric
Fabric companies create collections, working a season ahead of the fashion designers. This actually makes fashion design quite limiting as the designers can only work with fabrics that are available and that already exist. Very few fashion brands actually create their own fabrics; some luxury brands might be able to request special prints, colour combinations, or dyes, but they will rarely get a fabric created and woven specifically for them.
The designers will often select their fabrics before the collection is designed or even researched. They buy from manufacturers or wholesalers and they then have about 6 months to work with these fabrics to create their clothes ready for their next fashion show.
An example timeline for a fashion designer is as follows:
February 2012: Show their Autumn/Winter 2012/13 collection + Select the fabric for their Spring/Summer 2013 collection
March 2012: Start designing their Spring/Summer 2013 collection
September 2012: Show their Spring/Summer 2013 collection
After the major fashion shows the High Street designers take the main trends and then dilute them into the styles that they will produce.
Why do designers have the same ideas at the same time?
Designers don’t all have the same ideas at the same time, but a few themes are certainly repeated. They tend to be very secretive and certainly don’t have a chat about it beforehand! Any similarities are usually unintentional but they do have the same ideas at the same time because they are exposed to similar influences and they are looking for inspiration at the same time.
They will be influenced by films, art exhibitions, photography, books, street fashion, new bands, travel as well as reviving fashion trends from different decades.
There are some trends that appear season after season but they might just be tweaked in a small way eg there will almost always be floral fabrics in the Spring /Summer fashion ranges but this year they are being used in trousers or as big bold prints on leggings and jackets.