I’ve been the main minion at MymblesDaughter.com since its inception, and in the seven years we’ve been making and selling jewellery around the world, we’ve learnt a lot about trends in fashion and in shopping behaviour. Here are the main things we’ve learnt:
1. They happen. Even to small businesses.
It’s a combination of Sod’s Law and Human Nature. You make a dozen Alice pendants because there’s an Alice in Wonderland film coming out and they’ve done well in the past so surely, surely they’re going to be popular, but NO. Instead, you see a rise in thaumatropes and typography pendants. Your anticipated Alice pendants hang about for months waiting for someone to care for them, mocking you every morning with their lack of interest to the wider world, as you resent the money you spent on materials, and the clever feelings of organisation you had whilst making them.
The thing about trends is, if you run a shop, they likely exist on a scale directly relevant to the general state of your shop (whether it’s two sales, twenty sales, or two hundred sales). If you can catch them, cater for them, they’re pretty damn useful. BUT:
2. It is difficult to work out why they’re happening.
Sometimes, everyone in Texas wants a locket. You can spend a lot of time hypothesising the whys and wherefores of this: is it a group of friends buying them for each other? But Texas is a big place and that doesn’t quite add up, and these people seem disparate. Is it something Texas-centric in the news? Maybe. I’m not going to trawl that to find out. It might be that. Sometimes it’s a popular local blogger, or a jewellery display in some kind of massive shop. Sometimes it’s just…there. Sometimes you can’t even begin to fathom why Singapore’s gone nuts for Edgar Allen Poe, or all the boys of Munich have decided that, this month, they MUST have Oscar Wilde quotation pendants. All the Google-fu in the world can’t retrospectively make sense of the sudden spike in demand for something you’ve sold maybe one or two of in the last three years. With this in mind:
3. It is essential to name and notice trends.
It’s a huge part of fashion on every level.
4. It is a waste of time to try to predict them.
5. Know your staples.
6. Accept that OOAK items, or your super special ideas may serve best not to sell, but to inform/remind customers you exist.
7. Trust yourself.
This is where we get to the trendsetting. Chances are, if you’re a creative sort, you’re tuned into the general sense of creativity, what’s hot, what’s not, for people like you. Even if you think there aren’t any people like you, or that you’re super unmainstream. The internet’s greatest gift is the discovery that you’re pretty much never the only person in the world who likes the things you like, in the combinations you like them. Studs and tutus? Eyeliner and custard? Cats with hats? Hedgehogs on every damn thing? There’s a tumblr for all of them. Maybe not the eyeliner and custard. But probably.
Anyway. Trendsetting might come from the outside if you’re H&M. It might come from watching all the cool kids down by the harbour and seeing what they’re wearing; it might come from checking out the forthcoming big films and TV series and whatnot, and guessing that we’re all going to want to be Katniss come October…sure.
The best way to trendset, fortunately, is the most fun. Ask yourself what you like. Then put it together the way you put things together. The trick, here, is that it doesn’t have to be something you want to wear, personally. You aren’t necessarily designing something for yourself. You don’t have to be the trend. But you can bet that that combination of stuff you like, however random it is, whether it’s Jessica Fletcher from Murder She Wrote gone punk in the 1650s, or whether it’s Marie Antoinette en romana, regardless, if it’s something you love, chances are it’ll click for someone else too. See #6 – it might just be that that’s what brings people in, but they’ll be the right people for your brand/creations, and ‘finding your people’ is a peculiar phrase, but that’s better still than selling a dozen of one thing and having precisely none of those people come back.