How to Spot Trends and Incorporate Them into Your Business
by Leanne Pressly of Stitchcraft Marketing
How do you know what will be trending next week, next month, or even next year? As a crafty business owner, it’s important to be aware of what’s trending (or about to!) so that you can ensure your product offerings are what crafters are looking for.
Of course, the nature of trends is that they are constantly in flux: fashion, pop culture, and even what other crafters are making influence what’s hot and what’s not. Today we’ll give you a few tips and tricks for spotting trends and incorporating them into your crafty business.
Adjust With The Seasons
While you’ll always want to keep a good stock of the basics and commonly-requested colors or prints, adding in a small selection of colors and styles curated for the upcoming season will keep your shop looking fresh and your customers inspired. You are probably well aware of what your customers want to make at any given time of year, but predicting the “it” color scheme for the season ahead can be a little more difficult. Pantone creates several color collections each year, all of which tap into trending colors in the fashion and design industry. Design Seeds is another website offering inspirational color palettes which are helpfully sorted by season. Both of these resources can be great indicators of what your customers will be looking for in a few months’ time.
Watch the Runways
To keep an eye on what will be trending in the year to come, turn your attention to Pitti Filati, a yearly show which blends fashion with knitting and yarn craft on an international stage. Taking place each year in January or February, this show is a great place to spot new fashion and lifestyle trends in the textile and knitwear industries. Stacy Charles of the same brand name attended Pitti Filati for over a decade and felt that show was an integral part of his creative vision for the following year. Charles said, “Pitti trends do tend to make their way into the mainstream market, so it was a great way to get that elusive crystal ball on yarn trends.”
Watch Industry Trade Shows
Depending on your crafty business, there are many industry trade shows where you can be on the lookout for emerging trends. Creativation, held each January, is North America’s longest running creative industries trade event and hosts everything from paper to needle crafts and more. TNNA (The National Needle Arts Association) holds a Winter Market and a Summer Trade Show focused on knitting, crocheting, cross stitch, embroidery and other needlecraft. If sewing is your focus, you won’t want to miss QuiltCon in February or Quilt Festival Houston in November.
Consumer events such as Sewing Expo, Stitches Events and Vogue Knitting Live happen throughout the U.S. multiple times each year. Even if you don’t exhibit, it’s worth attending so that you can watch the fashion shows and wander the show floor to see what’s trending. Take note of what’s in EVERY booth: is there a specific technique, color, embellishment or material that you notice again and again as you browse? Also be on the lookout for common themes in display samples, too - for example, one year at a knitting event, there was a Color Affection in nearly every booth, each knit up in that particular exhibitor’s yarns! Finally, if you happen along any booths that are drawing a huge crowd, spend some time observing to find out what is attracting the frenzy of customers.
Read Fashion and Trade Publications
If travel isn’t in the cards for you, there’s no shortage of resources for staying on top of trends from the comfort of your own home. A trade association appropriate to your industry is a great place to start: both the Association for Creative Industries (AFCI) and Craft Industry Alliance (CIA) are reputable trade associations and members receive newsletters and access to a variety of resources, materials and meetings to discuss what’s going on in the industry with colleagues and peers.
Keep tabs on knitwear trends by regularly checking the Pitti Filati website; magazines such as Vogue Knitting and Yarn Market News are also great places to spot emerging trends. On the sewing side, print publications such as Threads and Sew News are good places to start (note: there are numerous Quilting titles that are also worth checking out!).
Once you have honed in on your particular niche, broaden your search by seeking out different fashion magazines or their websites to see what will be hot for next season. For what’s currently, trending take note of what major brands are touting: for example, clothing retailers such as Anthropologie and Madewell often inspire lookalike patterns amongst crafters.
Follow Key Influencers
Facebook and Instagram are fantastic places to spot trends and inspiration. First, make sure you follow a mix of influencers whose style you admire most, or who create pieces you enjoy working on, and be sure to ask your customers who they follow so that you can keep tabs on those accounts as well.
Next, look outside of your niche to find models, designers, bloggers and other personalities who have an aesthetic that resonates with you and your customers. Finally, keep tabs on what your closest competitors are doing - you don’t want to directly copy them, but you’ll be aware of what they’re offering in your shared marketspace.
Know Your Industry Leaders
No matter what industry you’re in, there’s going to be one standout business that anticipates what’s coming, or takes advantage of what’s trending to create products supporting it. For example, In the knitting industry, one of the hottest trends in the last few years has been the “fade” concept, the idea of creating a knitted garment that subtly blends from one color to another, either in a gradient or a multi-color spectrum. Yarn dyer Miss Babs has taken advantage of this trend by commissioning “fading” patterns in her seasonally produced pattern collections as well as generating numerous color fade sets that provide enough yarn to do a variety of popular projects. For instance, check out her selection of yarns for the Find Your Fade shawl. Figure out which business that is in your industry and keep an eye on what they’re doing. Think about ways in which you can adapt your product offerings to stay on trend.
Go Outside the Craft World
Department stores and other national retailers such as Target are great at translating some of the more inaccessible styles from high-end designers into wearable everyday clothes and accessories, giving you a better understanding what is actually selling. An afternoon of window shopping can yield some great ideas you can bring back to your own business!
Staying on top of other general business, marketing and cultural trends can be helpful to keep your business fresh and invigorated. If you’re short on time, Rohit Bargava’s series called “Non-Obvious” is an excellent source to add to your toolkit: known for his ability to spot trends and see the connections between them, he produces a book each year about the current trends, many of which can be applied to crafts in some way. Rohit has built an entire suite of products based on these predictions, which includes videos, podcasts and live events and more.
Learning how to spot trends and predict what’s coming is an important way to continually adapt to your customers’ evolving desires. I hope you find these tips and tricks helpful in your own business.
Need help developing creative offerings to support upcoming trends? Contact Stitchcraft Marketing today for more information.