In October, a Financial Times article on the rising importance of online fashion magazines referred to JC Report as part of the “Net Force,” “a new member of the front row royalty” delivering timely information to a captive audience of online readers. While our impact echoes across fashion, we’re assured that the reach of this kind of reporting serves a greater purpose far beyond the narrow parameters of the industry. We sought out Piers Fawkes, marketing and cultural-trends consultant for brands that include Microsoft and W Hotels and co-director (with Simon King) of PSFK, the collaborative trend-reporting site that specializes in consumer insights and innovative marketing concepts, to answer a few questions about the bigger picture of fashion forecasting.
JCR: Do most lifestyle trends require a fashion bent? Is the general consumer requiring a more fashionable presentation in their products? If so, are there specific regions that are more demanding than others when it comes to how goods are packaged and presented?
PF: We’re finding that fashion spreads beyond apparel in more and more ways. Before we may have had our clothes, our car, and our house. Now we also have the other objects in our life to wrap around us and make definitive statements about who we are. Our phone, our PDA, our iPod, our furniture, our vacation reflect who we are — and in today’s world we have access to these articles in a way we never had before. As such, we demand products that fit with our lifestyle (or the lifestyle we imagine or aspire to have) from wherever they are available in the world — this impacts product design, packaging, and retail experience.
I would say that the latter (retail experience) is the most important and interesting area. Brands are beginning to realize that they can add this “theatre” around their products in a way that only fashion brands tended to explore in the past. NYC saw a brand experience for a brandy last year. Wow.
JCR: What are your feelings on the advent of fashion as entertainment, with publications such as ours acting as guidelines for professionals and as entertainment for fashion-lovers, or fashion shows attended by “viewers” as a spectacle rather than as showcase for industry professionals? Are you witnessing fashion redefining itself in consumer consciousness?
PF: I think we have an increasingly informed class of creative people who can consume content that was previously only presented to niche professionals. We are creative people and won’t be told that we must have interests in one creative industry. Why can’t someone understand the fashion industry from an insider/expert point of view even though they may be a prefab home designer? This has a greater impact, because creative folk believe in trying to experiment in creative industries that they were not “trained” in. This brings more flavor, diversity, and anarchy — especially to a field like fashion.
JCR: Now that Wallpaper (the most recent publication to define a generation) has gone quiet, what publication is most influential in the New Century lifestyle?
PF: The magazine format doesn’t fit within our lives anymore. We are turning to the web, to RSS, and newsletters like JC Report. I think the “cool” blogs are an interesting sign of things to come. They’re only half baked at the moment, but they’re a great example of consumers/observers wresting control from established trendsetters.
Cool blogs will democratize what is cool.
JCR: Which early trends that you’ve observed in the fashion/lifestyle space do you believe will have resonance in the consumer-goods market in coming seasons?
PF: Eco-consciousness. I know that’s not “early” but my personal reaction this year to brands like Loomstate, Edun, MoreTrees, Livity and Stuart & Brown is so positive I can’t believe others won’t respond in the same way. I have a feeling that mass-adoption to eco- consciousness will be led by fashion, not by car makers. Fashion talks to the right people who stimulate conversation in the greater public domain. Once people start wearing their eco-clothing, I hope they’ll take a look at all the other products around them — the plastic products, the products with high waste packaging — and reconsider those choices too.
JCR: Our next issue completely surrounds the style activities taking place in Buenos Aires, what global regions are your eyes on?
PF: BA! Great. Sorry to sound geeky, but let’s watch what’s happening in these virtual worlds too (like Second Life).
This interview was conducted by Jason Campbell