Though trendspotting is yet to catch on in India, it is a big business for the fashion industry in the West. And the only way fashion houses can stay ahead of the competition is to forecast what colours, textures, cuts and fabrics are to be used for the seasons ahead.
But, according to fashion expert Harleen Sabharwal, there has been a paradigm shift in trend forecasting. She was speaking at the Business of Fashion seminar, part of the Lakme India Fashion Week, being held in Delhi.
"While in the last century, trend forecasting was a cycle of two years or so, now forecasting is restricted to a season or at the most a year," she said. And the reasons, according to her, are the vagaries of modern life including politics and environment. "9/11 impacted not only the US but also other places. It's sort of a ripple effect," she added.
Tracing the fashion trends of this century, Sabharwal predicted that 2005 will be the year of the individual. According to her, 50 per cent of the professionals will come from the creative fields.
And in terms of trends, being "child-like" will be "in", a time when "innocence" will be the key word. As far as hues are concerned, white will be the colour of the season and classic elegance will be back.
Sabharwal went on to add that till now fashion was "reactive" but the coming years will see "creative" fashion at the forefront. "Earlier designers 'reacted' to their environment. But because 2005 will be a year of the individual, the look will be item-based," she explained.
In short, her lecture made the point that in the future designers will just provide the "building blocks" while individuals will add their own elements to their wardrobes. The coming year will also see the rise in the number of people working from home.
In terms of fashion, this will translate into clothing becoming more comfortable. These people will tend to eat out a lot and will spend time travelling. From their travels, they would tend to pick up individual pieces of clothing.
According to Sabharwal, 2005 will see a lot of art, interiors and wallpaper designs being incorporated into clothing giving rise to "hybrid fashion."
To the question that if individualism becomes predominant, will designers become extinct, Sabharwal answered that the role of the designer will change subtly.A designer's job will be to provide sustainable styles. Something for individuals to use as a base and experiment with. The future, it seems, is the age of individualism. Or you can believe what Sabharwal said: "A good forecaster has her ignorance organised."