Proceedings of the Nordic Consumer Policy Research Conference 2007
Fashion Forecasting – Manipulating or Assisting the Consumer?
Ingrid Giertz-Mårtenson, MA
Department of Ethnology
Within the fashion system there are many different agents (like designers, manufacturers,
buyers, editors, models and photographers). Though the interest for fashion seems insatiable,
many parts of the system are yet virtually unknown or poorly understood. Practical realities of
the fashion business seem to be little known to very few other than those who work within it.
A small group of agents is specialized in what is called fashion forecasting: they produce and
sell information on what is believed to become the must haves of next season. They claim to
reveal the future of fashion.
Having been active within the fashion forecasting business myself (directing for many years
the Swedish Fashion Council) I have seen this phenomenon from within. In this paper I will
discuss the following questions: what is fashion forecasting, who are the actors, how do they
produce their information, and who is using it? What relationships do they have to one
another and how is status and recognition created in the continuous struggle between the
actors? And how is the ordinary consumer influenced by these trend predictions – or are they?
Is forecasting actually helping the consumer to make better choices or does it manipulate us
into consuming goods that we actually did not know existed and even less wanted? The paper
is based on a study of some sixty trend books with predictions for 2005 – 2008 from major
international trend agencies active on the Scandinavian market as well as on interviews with
key people producing and buying this type of information. The study is to a large extent built
on ethnographical material as I also used participant observation of trend seminars, trade fairs
Using the theoretical framework of P