Abstract

The process of color forecasting has been examined in the thesis. We analyzed the main factors that influence on the process of forecasting and its key elements. Different viewpoints of the process are presented by evaluating information and opinions available through printed media and interviews with design personnel. The data constitutes the actual forecast basis. Color prediction can be viewed both as a process and a service. The first step of the prediction process is collecting data, and then it is divided into themes or categories. The main factor that influences on a color forecaster is his intuition, but experience, creativity, inspiration and emotions are also taken into consideration. At that time appears the final color story for the coming season. It consists of the evaluated themes in terms of market readiness and synchronicity. The presentation of the forecasted nuances is usually done in form of the united story or it is divided into the original themes. It has been researched that prediction packages are widely used within the fashion industry to help forecasters make color decisions and meet needs and preferences of a consumer. 

The role of color throughout the chain of supply has been highlighted. The consumer’s role and the possible consumer’s benefits have also been discussed. Individual components of the color forecasting process as well as weaknesses and strengths, have been analyzed.The processes of inspiration, intuition, reasoning, thought and decision making are shown to be the key adjuncts to other existing tools of forecasting. We have identified the driving forces of fashion as these key influences determine the forecasting sector development of today.

Keywords: Color forecast, color story, fashion forecasting, consumer, intuition, prediction package, management implication.

1. Industry Context

Color always played a significant role in the history of mankind. It bore different cultural associations, it affected human emotions and activities, and was even used in healing therapies.  Color has ability to change our mood and make us feel better or worse. It can reflect our emotions and values of life. It is an invisible language that can reflect our perception of the world and convey messages.  

In the fashion industry, color takes even more essential position and is rated as the most important criteria of aesthetics. As the result, the most important decision that should be taken by buying, design, or marketing teams in the fashion industry is the selection of color for their products.

Being one of the great joys of life color is involved in life, design, art, lifestyle and fashion; color is an inevitable part of fashion and gives feelings and emotions to ever changing trends. The use, range and scope of color are a difficult issue for both the professionals and consumers. Fashion, design and color fashion pass freely around the world being facilitated by ever faster technology of communication. The need and necessity to understand color with all the nuances and facets has never been so important. That is why color forecasting is an important requirement to assist the demands and needs of the continuously changing fashion world. Due to the complex emotional and personal qualities, color makes forecasting the complex process which includes awareness, intuitions and market research. The color forecasting process defines demands and needs of consumers, and the fashion business requirements. The process of color forecasting is considered to be very complex, very intuitive and the major driving force of the textile industry and fashion.

Color forecasting was born in the 19th century and is considered a significant part of the fashion system. It presupposes the process of identifying color tones and shades which will be in fashion in several years. Color forecasting is the element of utmost importance in the fashion system and an inevitable part of the collective process that is called fashion forecasting. People engaged in fashion forecasting try accurately to forecast colors, styles, garments, accessories and other things which will be bought by consumers in the near future (Diane & Cassidy 2005, p. xi).

It should be highlighted that color forecasting is so important in the fashion system and takes place in the very beginning of the process of fashion creation. Color prediction is a part of the large fashion forecasting process. Using elements of creativity, intuition and inspiration, color prediction process collects, analyzes and interprets data in order to anticipate a color range that is desirable by consumers. The current system of forecasting is used by those that are engaged in the production of trend for the selling purpose, among whom range developers, personnel of sourcing, designers and merchandisers. The system should be clarified for the newcomers and those who already use the system in order to improve the forecasting. Due to the fact that fashion forecasting incorporates all garment and accessory aspects, color is an important factor in the process of purchasing decision. The color forecasting information is compiled into the package of trend prediction and then sold to the fashion and textile industry. This information is used by the industry personnel as the source of suggestion and inspiration. Then a very similar process is used in order to develop the color range of a company.

The prediction packages are used by manufacturers as the data source alongside with other collected data. Then the process of color forecasting or its version has been applied. It is done with the aim of formulating their own ranges of seasonal colors to sell the products to retailers. Retailers often join the services of color forecasting in the way of buying prediction packages to assist them to formulate their own color ranges.

Consumers use the decision making process while selecting the garment which they want to buy. Thus, color preferences are very important and influential on aspects which should definitely be taken into consideration. The effectiveness of the right color decision is reflected in successful sales.  

The forecasting concept appeared due to the growth and development of the fashion and textile industry with the aim to give manufacturers an opportunity to produce end products that would increase sales. The global development of the industry and variety of lifestyles has caused diversity and complexity of the collecting process of necessary data. In the modern fashion seasonal colors have become its powerful source. Thus, the sector of color forecasting was developed to fill the gap of communication between the manufacturers of primary data and consumers who recognize constantly increasing complexities of forecasting. 

The profession of forecasting is considered to be the backbone of the textile and fashion industry. However, marketing professionals and designers still remain responsible for forecasting the niche market of a company using the packages of trend forecasting as the part of their inspiration source. Trend promotion and prediction cannot be seen as a marketing technique to increase sales any more. This fact would augment the color importance for fashion industry and suggest the idea that prediction is the emotive aspect and the driving force of fashion.

Forecasting can also be seen as the industry growth hindrance with the help of encouraging sales without any quality improvement. This may be the reason for encouragement of price rivalry and style rivalry replacement in case if the same fashion story is promoted throughout the world,      

In case if the same fashion story is promoted in every part of the world, every manufacturer uses the same information and produces products to be sold globally. The rivalry of style is unable due to the creativity that is stifled and causes the appearance of price rivalry. Moreover, it constricts the textile and fashion industry.

Thus, before trying to understand the color forecasting process, it is worth exploring its historical development. It can demonstrate how a series of events made influence on the need for forecasting trends.It is important to highlight the importance of color stories to the continuation of fashion and textile industry sales because of the fact that it is the ability to anticipate the demand of a consumer accurately.

1.1. The Color Story

Color grabs the attention of customers; it makes a connection at the emotional level and leads to the products. Even if the product itself remains the same, but the color is changed, it brings new light to it. In order to sell the product, companies use the help of color consultants to choose the right color.

The first evidence of the forecasting need was around in 1825. However, almost in a century, the first company engaged in fashion forecasting was established in the USA. Similar companies were established in Great Britain during the 1930s and during two decades more companies appeared in the USA, Great Britain andmainland Europe.So, the first forecasting for the American consumers was done in 1915 when the Textile Color Card Association of America was founded. It was the predecessor to the Color Association of the United States (CAUS) of today. The organization used the specialists in textile industry to make the selection of fashion shades that will be fashionable in the near future. The first color forecast was made for fall of 1917-1940.

The idea to forecast trends appeared after World War II. Merchandising of trends entered the market in 1980s. Nowadays, merchandising of trends and forecasting color is considered to be important parts of product development.  

Despite the fact that some people are convinced that color forecasters tell what colors should be used at the market, forecasters do not have so much power. To forecast the color is not just saying that turquoise will be fashionable. Being engaged in the work with colors every day, color forecasters are the first ones who sense the need in something new. They forecast in case if consumers are ready for something new. However, some critics find that the research on the color preferences of consumers is the missing link in the process of color forecasting. Nowadays, gathering color preferences of consumers is not a part of the process of color forecasting. 

Forecasts are helpful for retailers and manufacturers as they keep producing fresh, new and popular at the same time avoiding lost sales that are caused by production which consumers are not ready to buy. Due to the fact that color is an essential aesthetic criterion, the entire chain of apparel supply has the same interest of having common ideas about color directions.

Color forecasters are mostly in agreement; they visit the same shows of fabric trade in Europe, watch fashion in Asia, America and Europe, and examine the same media. Being members of color associations, they develop color forecasts in collaboration with other members. In order to provide the input for decisions of a designer, color forecasters work one to two years in advance of the season. Color forecasts track fiber developments as the colors look different on different fabrics. To make successful and reliable predictions, forecasters should have the industry background. 

2. Management Issue

Developments in the fashion production have become evident in the past few decades. Fast changes transform fashion and supply management as well as distribution of products. Development of communication technologies and market globalization have caused changes in demands and preferences of consumers. Fashion events, of national and international level, are considered to be key indicators which may ensure commercial success of a company.

The forecasting process application within the industry is rather variable which caused the fact that the process is both artistic (subjective) and scientific (objective). Over the several decades forecasting process has become more complex procedure as forecasters have realized the benefits of fulfilling the needs of consumers. The increased complexity of the forecasting process has led to the desire of many companies to pay to design consultants and forecasters in order to develop a working methodology with the aim to fulfill their specific requirements. 

The aim of color forecasting is to give the fashion industry the opportunity to manufacture products that will be in consumers’ demand in the near future. In case if this demand is met, it means that the industry will be profitable and long lasting. However, if this demand is not met, the forecasting is failing the industry and the whole economy.

A popular product strategy may be successfully used by managers in order to add color to the previous fashion lines. Color is often added to give newness to the existing lines and to attract consumers to the whole range of production. The process of extending the existing lines with  help of color seems to be very simple, but it really needs a good managerial work. Requirements of fashion production include color coordination, material procurement, sample production and others. All these things are actively forecasted despite the fact that it is some risk. Forecasting causes side problems (Urban, Weinberg & Hauser 1996). The error of a forecaster may lead to huge cost losses or stockouts which may also decrease customer’s trust in the retailer. Color design, color plan, color realization, color implementation and color transformation are the main elements of color management in the process of fashion forecasting. Nowadays, color management is necessary to control the appearance of new trends, color stories and fulfilling customers’ demands. 

The influence of forecasts on the actual color planning of a company depends on the design style, customers and market. Most brands try to keep constant basic colors which are also called signature colors. Companies have tendency not to change their basics and adjust to color forecasts. But sometimes it happens as a company makes some changes in hue to keep up with the time. While deciding the color of a brand, it is essential to take into consideration material, the size of the company and aesthetics.

The color forecasting process starts by collecting, analyzing, evaluating, data in order to provide variety of colors using inspiration, intuition and creativity (Diane & Cassidy 2005, p. xi). After that, forecasters’ results are presented to professionals in the fashion industry. The presentation is done in the form of trade events, conferences, fabric fairs, publications and others. Afterwards, color forecasts have their practical implementation through retail assortments merchandising or the color planning of   designer’s collection.

It has become imperative to make accurate color forecasts to have highly reliable outcomes.  Fashion companies are surrounded by the economy which is globally unstable, face hostile environment and that threatens their share at the market and their profit margins. Cheap outsourcing, large profit gains and lower entry barriers have caused competition in the fashion industry.

Brands, designer and retailer send a lot of money on huge marketing campaigns to persuade consumers to buy their products. Thus, the fashion industry has the need in reducing the risk and color forecasters help it providing the appropriate color direction. The right forecast of shade or tone can really bring huge success, or, in the contrary, it may turn into a failure. Fashion companies have an opportunity to choose from wider variety of colors due to the constant technological advances in bleaching, fabric dying and printing.

It is very important for fashion companies to follow the trends in order to predict colors for the future as the success of the upcoming collection and how it will be received at the market is directly related to the right color choice. Thus, color plays a vital role in building a strong brand. It is also important to find balance between basic sales and trends. Big and successful companies track collections of the previous years to decide color stories for coming seasons. Applying a color theory, the color forecaster usually takes into account the type of a consumer and his membership in cultural groups. Values, lifestyles and attitudes also are that of vital importance while accepting or rejecting directions of color.

The theoretical concepts are related to the fashion system and the process of forecasting. Thus, it is important to discuss a few notions that are related to color and, especially, the shifts in consumer’s color preferences which are called color cycles. They refer to the phenomenon of the shifts in color preferences that are periodic and the repetition patterns in the popularity of colors.

There are consumers who adopt fashion changes at an early stage, but there have lost those, who adhere to traditional colors with coming and going of color cycles. In order to apply a theory of a color cycle, a color forecaster needs to have insight and experience. The mid-2000s have brought the popularity of multicolor prints. Then, seasons of subdued neutrals were meshed. This sequence echoes the long-wave color cycle. It has been proved that some continuity remains regardless of trends. Fall palettes have tendency to become darker and less intense than palettes of the spring collections. Individual colors tend to move in and out frequently but it is of greater importance to track color groups rather than specific colors. Being referred to as revivals, color cycles are presented in the process in which past fashions inspire new ones and are that of inspirational context.

Nowadays, the prediction of color offers proliferation of tones and shades, and the job of a color forecaster is to match color with consumers’ segments. During the twentieth century, visual perceptions of color have been changed. Nevertheless, the basic mechanism of color cycles still serves as the color forecaster. As a rule, a high profile industry introduces the direction of a new color and promotes it as a theme. Being based on mass marketing, other industries adapt and promote the same set of colors to their consumers. The color direction is established in a few years, and then when a consumer is ready to accept the change, in this way the cycle begins again. Color forecasters find it necessary to monitor the response of consumers and to work through the color families.

The service of color prediction appeared in order to cope with the problem of anticipating the color preferences of consumers before the implementation of the production time plan of the industry. Due to the fact that the forecasting concept was initially established in the sector of the primary market, selling information to the sectors of secondary and tertiary market increased the revenue for the service sector. It also made influence on  stronger consensus for the color story conviction. Whatever colors were chosen to be fashionable in the future, consumers make decisions to buy them in the same way determining whether the predictions were accurate. Marketing can influence on the decision of a consumer either to buy or not, consumer’s choice is still based on the personal judgments and preferences.   

Fashion and textile industry are in the process of current changes, so retailers are showing the evidence of relaying their consumer’s need evaluation and observation back to the manufacturer and at the same time sifting the impact on color direction from manufacturers to retailers. Mass customization developments suggest an idea that the process of current forecasting is not as effective as the industry expects. Consumers’ preferences are considered to be the key aspect for consideration as a consumer is the major driving force of fashion.

3. Literature Review

The main purpose of the literature review is to study the already conducted relevant research in the field of fashion forecasting. The review will serve to identify and better understand widely used definitions, terms, and concepts, to review theories and methods which were adopted by researchers in the field of fashion industry, and to understand the aspects of forecasting process itself. In recent years, fashion has become an established subject in the academic literature, a lot of insights are provided, and various processes which occur in fashion industry are explained. Lack of material relevant to the topic of color forecasting leads to the questions which remain unanswered and need further study. However, we may mention that the main contributors in the studied field are Tracy Diane, Katheryn McKelvey, Tom Cassidy, Rita Perna, Kate Scully, Debra Johnston Cobb and others.

Tracy Diane and Tom Cassidy are considered to be the first contributors to color forecasting. Their book The Color Forecasting (2005) is  the most extensive in the field. A lot of attention is paid to the history of color forecasting and its development. The authors explain color terminology and the tools used by color forecasters. There is an idea that color has emotional and personal qualities. Emphasis is put on the fact that market research has become an essential tool for contrasting information about consumers and the concept of identifying the target market lifestyle is a key factor in the process of forecasting  (Diane & Cassidy 2005). In the following book under the title Personal color analysis, consumer color preferences and color forecasting for the fashion and textile industries (2007), the authors tried to present an improved model  of the inaccurate ad ineffective current model. Color data and the systems of personal color analysis have been the basis for the research. The improved model helps in the collecting the data relevant to the consumer’s color preference (cited in Chang Gao & Zhang 2009).

In the book Messages and Meanings (2006), an executive director of the Pantone Color Institute Leatrice Eiseman convinces that it is not worth making the assumption that fashion is the source of all the new color trends. The author speaks about the influence of the Apple iPod commercials on color. This shows how the influence of color comes from the field of graphic design. Color is the thing that catches the eye of any consumer at the first sight. The answer to the question how colors arrive to the market and why different companies choose the same color may be found in the Kate Scully and Debra Johnston Cobb’s book Color Forecasting for Fashion (2012). The authors examine the development of the fashion industry and its work, and then they have deeper study of the skills which are employed by color forecasters to make a color palette, sometimes more than a year before the season of selling. Scully & Cobb show how to draw up a color palette to a color theory, the things and factors that help people build research combination, the behavior of colors and the skills which are inevitable for a good and successful forecaster.

Rita Perna examines the process of fashion in the book Fashion forecasting: a mystery or a method? (1987). The author uses the apparel manufacturers, the textile and fabric suppliers, and the fashion production retailers. She speaks about color as an attribute that is agreed approximately two years before the season. The early stages are characterized by context and color qualities, among them ‘a cool color palette’ or ‘chalky textures’ which indicate shades, hues and tones within a color. The closer the season, the more specific the colors become (Perna 1987, p. 171). The process of forecasting is mainly influenced by observation, its analysis and correlations. These factors help to determine future fashion influences and future consumers’ behavior (Perna 1987, p. 200).

Kathryn McKelvey and Kate Munslow, being the authors of  book Fashion forecasting (2008), interviews people who work in the fashion industry and provides into the contemporary world of fashion forecasting. The authors also talk about various creative roles within the industry mentioning project consultants and intelligence gatherers. The book tells about trend sourcing, its development and anticipation, and provides the exploration of the interaction between brand and marketing development.   

Deng Qingzeng considered color in fashion as an exchange of social phase in the article Discussion on statistical theory of fashion color (1989). The author speaks about statistical analysis of fashion color that is conducted according to the principle of synergy (cited in Chang, Gao & Zhang 2009). In the study Rough Set Based Forecasting System for Product Color (2008) by Zhang Q, Kang W and Ming X., one may find convincing information about the database of fashion color. The authors provide algorithms of color forecasting and present it with the theory of this and differentiability and rough set theory. They state that it is possible to build relations between decision and condition attributes. Zhang Q, Kang W and Ming X. develop an intelligent forecasting system of fashion color and implements clothes color forecast (Zhang, Kang & Ming 2008) 

Jill Stansfield and Allan Whitfield, in the research: Can future color trends be predicted on the basis of past color trend?: an empirical investigation, discuss the relations between conditions of cultural lifestyle and color trends. The authors analyze colors using the NCS system. Their research has shown any evidence in order to support color cycles and their influence on consumption of colors as these influences are short-lived.  Thus, they tried to show that trends of past colors cannot be used while predicting future trends (Jill & Whitfield 2005).

4. Research Aim\Questions

While talking to people who are engaged in the fashion business and in the process of reading literature concerning the topic, we have faced the problem that there is not any clear depiction of the process of color forecasting, no relevant methodology and practical managerial implications. We find that of utmost importance to study and investigate the process of information arrangement and communication as well as the way how it affects fashion business.

The main aim of the research is:

-          to establish who he fashion forecasters are

-          to learn about color stories and their development

-          to trace the process of collecting data for color forecasting

-          to state the ways of analysis and interpretation of the received data

-          to improve the understanding of the color forecasting process

-          to study the ways of final color story presentation

-          to examine the history of color forecast

-          to develop an understanding of data concerning consumer’s preference.

5. Research Design\Methodology

Qualitative interviewing has been defined by the nature of our research questions as the most appropriate method as it would provide a lot of data on the entire process of color forecasting. We conducted semi-structured interviews with people who are engaged in the forecasting industry and decided to use induction in order to analyze the gathered data. 

5.1 Qualitative Interviewing

As we seek to provide a deep understanding of the process of color forecasting that is why we found qualitative research to be the most appropriate for our research topic. Qualitative interviewing is considered to be very flexible as it responds to the interviewee’s direction and adjusts to the research with the emphasis on the most important issues that might appear while interviewing. This type of interviewing provides greater interest in the interviewee’s ideas and beliefs and reflects researcher’s concerns. In qualitative interviewing interviewee are encouraged to go off the topic as this tactic gives the opportunity to see what point is the most interesting or important for the person and allows to reveal nuances.

Qualitative interviewing does not require following any schedule or guide. Even in case if they exist, interviewers are allowed to depart from them. The order of questions may be changed and the questions may be even paraphrased. Thus, in quantitative research, none of the above mentioned things should be used as they can compromise the interview process standardization on influence of the validity of the measurement (Interviewing in Qualitative Research  n.d., p. 313).

We think that a qualitative interview is a good choice for our research as it helps to obtain  better understanding through detailed information, to ascertain the experiences and opinions, to get answers to puzzling questions (there are a lot of them in our research), to trace events which evolve over time, to state hypotheses for future research.  

It is important to remember that a good interview is based on good communication skills. It is vital to ask and be attentive while listening to the answers, to identify when it is necessary to talk long, and being brief, to see when there is a need  to change the subject and others. The main features which differ a qualitative interview from a conversation are such a research tool which presents different roles in society, great number of listening leads, focus on the agenda, and detailed and full responses given by the interviewee (Bates, Droste, Cuba, & Swingle n.d.). 

5.2 The Process of Semi-Structured Interviewing

An interview is considered as depending on the communication skills of the interviewer(Clough & Nutbrown 2007), the ability to listen, make pauses and ask clearly structure questions. It is that of utmost importance to let the interviewee to talk freely, attention should be also paid on humor and humility as they draw attention to the trust between participants and relational aspect (Newton 2010).

In semi-structures interviewing the interviewer knows the questions that he is going to cover, but it is allowed to explore different feelings and thoughts. In our case, the questions which were asked were related to the process of color forecasting itself, creating of color story, its presentation, the role of intuition, the cyclic tendency of colors and the role of consumers’ desires and preferences. 

In semi-structured interviews, interviewers have an opportunity to tailor the questions in accordance with the context which is discussed. In case if the interviewee changes the subject, the interviewer is allowed to bring him back asking prompt questions. 

As we wanted to construct perspective of the process of color forecasting, we also talked to the representatives of forecasting agencies in America. Having analyzed the conversations, we started to look for the definite themes and group the informant responses, accordingly.

The interviews were done as conversation in which the speaker was given the preferences and was almost not interrupted in spite of the fact that in a semi-structured interview, the interviewee and the interviewer should be are equal partners.

In order to develop relevant and well-structured questions, we were involved into observation and informal interviewing. The benefits of such a type of interviewing is the prepared questions giving the interviewer opportunity to be competent during the interview, informants have freedom to express their own views, and provide us comparable and reliable data.  

5.3 Inductive Analysis

Inductive analysis provides us with a systematic set of procedures which enable to analyze qualitative data. Though this type of analysis does not provide comparatively strong analytic strategies for the development of a model or theory, it gives  very simple and straightforward approach for deriving useful information from the evaluation questions. It is considered that qualitative studies are identified due to their commitment to inductive analysis. The analysis is defined as working with data on specific cases to more general ones.  

Inductive analysis helps us in outlining the statement, concept and hypothesis about population, its shift and preferences. In spite of the fact that out study is explorative, it is necessary to emphasize the fact that it is guided by theoretical concepts. We make an indirect examination to study how forecasting information is used in the fashion industry.   

Among the basic benefits of inductive reasoning is the fact that it is used in forecasting that may happen in the near future or predicting the possibility what will be encountered and that is the core idea of color forecasting.

5.4. The Methodology of Soft Systems

Being a widely used tool for understanding and investigating situations of human activity, soft systems methodology may be viewed as an inquiry process. We have used the methodology to uncover the process of color forecasting and to explore weaknesses in the current process of forecasting. The methodology is employed to structure logical base. Emphasis is put on people’s viewpoints. Technical aspects may be implemented only after agreements which are made during the process of soft system methodology.

Soft system thinking is considered to be a very useful tool that is used to investigate the industry of color forecastingand to develop the model which expresses the methodology as currently used and what we consider to be an improved approach (Tracy & Cassidy 2005, p. 83).

6. Findings and Discussion

We discuss the topics which need extra attention as they are relevant to the forecasting and constitute essential elements in the process phases. Application of relevant theories and concepts help us get better and deeper understanding. While reading and conveying interviews we faced the problem of defining color forecast process in relation to trend spotting. The problem has arisen after the takeoff of social media. It has been argued that it is not possible to predict new trends more than 12 months in advance because fast fashion may be found anywhere and one can easily find the information about the collection at the same day that it is shown (Committee for Color and Trends 2013). It is important not to confuse the word forecasting with trend spotting as trend forecasting, together with its material adaptation, being the act of balance which lets you know in advance the subject of customers’ excitement.   

The interviews brought us to the conclusion that the trend of forecasters that exists in a network constitutes social and institutional relations within the world of fashion. The gathered statements show that the institutional relations and collective selection processes determine fashion. The same influence and similar events visited by different people affect the forecasting basis and outcome. It was also confirmed by our interviewees. Such factors as cultural, social, institutional connections and relationships, economy, technology, environment and the global media also play vital role in this aspect (Pacitti 2012, p. 33). Key people in the industry, among them forecasters, choose what will reach the audience. Hence, there have been discussions of the validity of their predictions. Thus, forecasters are often viewed as a closed and secretive group. This situation is explained by our interviewees as the necessity to details about their methods in secret to protect their business model. However, we have already tried to convey in this research that being intuitive predictions of a trend agency are not inexplicable. This intuition is almost never questioned, that it why the methodology remains hidden and there is a sort of monopoly which is created for forecasters (Diane & Cassidy 2005, p. 29).

During the process of research we have stated that color is that of intangible nature and it makes a very strong influence on the consumer’s senses. It is the main factor that impacts the reason why people decide to buy.  In fact, colors do not change, but our attitude towards them is very changeable (Pacitti 2012, p. 32-33). People who take important positions in the business of fashion possess a certain quality which is indefinable; their aesthetic views are very often inaccessible and complex. These are considered to be the qualities that demand certain cultural capital in the form of knowledge, cultural competency and acquired aesthetic sensibility.The detailed cultural knowledge and  particular sense of aesthetics of those within the fashion field influence on internal logic to the aesthetic economy. In spite of the fact that trend of forecasters’ descriptions is rather vague, their profession requires special training and experience in the field.

The Color Marketing Group and Color Association of the United States state that color trends are chosen by technology. This information is a bit controversial to what was mentioned above as it is said that computers adapt color faster than any other means. A lot of it is done by advertising and such known brands as Bed Bath & Beyond, Crate & Barrel, the Pottery Barn and many others use this powerful tool. There are also a lot of magazines which work in the same way and influence on consumer’s preferences through colorful advertising.

The most interesting thing that we discovered is that forecasting groups do not choose certain colors of different tones and shades. They just show the color course. Companies may implement them using hues, shades and brightness (Pacitti 2012, p. 33-34).

The process of color forecasting is a systematic approach which is based on facts. Moreover, the process has a method and it is necessary to emphasize these inspiration, intuition and creativity that are the key elements which remain present and play a significant role during the process of forecasting.However, reliability and objectivity of this fact has been long questioned by forecasting critics. Such fields as philosophy and psychology have always recognized intuition as an important factor. Nowadays, intuition is regarded to be the creativity and insight necessity for anyscientific research and is used to break new ground. Behavioral research recognizes intuition as the factor that contributes in the process of decision making. It constitutes an important forecasting step. Moreover, intuition is employed by forecasters when aesthetic judgments are being made.

In spite of that fact the development phase of the color story has some nuances which are constituents of the forecast, their representation remains important. As mentioned above a single prediction package may have a bit different color tonal value. Consequently, the reproducing color accuracy is very important. It is influenced by many factors which depend on the forecast medium. One should take into account that in online communication forecasted colors look totally different on the computer screens of computers as they are mixed with white light. Accurate representation of color nuances and minimization of color misrepresented reproduction are not to be avoided through using by fashion brands and forecasters’ cards of standardized colors or shade cards.

Nowadays, it is easy to see two distinctive approaches in using material of forecasting and  collection building. It is necessary to focus on production and reliable material of forecasting in order to build a successful collection. That is why most forecasters are against fast fashion decisions as it responds to quality issues. At the same time it is possible to see how fashion representatives take a trend and incorporate it into the collection within a short period of time.  

In the fashion world there is an idea of asking consumers what they want to see in the future. We do not agree with their ideas as it cannot improve the accuracy of forecasting and add to the color planning process. Instead of it is worth using the forecasting which socio-culturally based because it may help the fashion companies build impressive collections. Today many people from Western societies try to remember the entire good thing from the past and choose what they are missing at present. It is a kind of longing for authenticity. There is an idea that having an innovative power of authenticity one has to create settings that are able to say something to customers. It is not enough only to analyze customers’ wishes as it is vital to examine the culture of people. In order to anticipate something new, one should not be blinded by fashion appearance and market trends.

7. Limitations

Fashion industry is a many faceted notion that comprises clothing, footwear, accessories, make up and others. The choice of products is strongly influenced by consumer’s preference. One of the key factors that plays a vital role while making a decision what to buy is color. Fashion forecasting underlies the issue of trends and includes color, cut, form, shape etc. Our study covers the process of color forecasting. The forecasting of color is considered to be an integral and very important part of trend prediction. There are many processes and sub-processes which are not covered in the thesis, among them silhouettes, concepts of design, material and cuts. Moreover, the study has been focused on the United States, limiting the scope of research to the work of American color forecasters and the use of such forecasts by American fashionbrands.

8. Conclusion

Coming across the variety of colors everyday, we do not notice the messages they convey. Our perception and the way we respond to color is influenced by psychological, social, cultural and biological factors. Color is a very important factor in the fashion industry as it influences on the success of a company.

A consumer has always been the driving force of fashion. Color is considered to be  very important component of the driving force and very powerful marketing tool. However, color is the factor which easily changeable due to the production cost structure. Nowadays, sales heavily depend on the color stories making color playing a vital role in the fashion and textile industry.  A good understanding of the trend origin can give us  better understanding of the function of color in the fashion industry and design. Color forecasts arise from real trends. The trends in their turn show the currently popular colors and what colors are likely to be seen in the near future (Pacitti 2012, p. 32).

It has already been mentioned that new colors continuously enter the market. However, there is a period of time between the introduction of a new color, its direction and acceptance before people become familiar with it. In this way colors gradually move from trends to uninteresting hues and then they are completely replaced by a new thing. It means that colors have a life cycle that is rather predictable. Colors which were popular may be easily repositioned in the upcoming season. The color vogue evolves over 10 to 12 years.

Forecasting of color can be viewed as a process and a service. The process is used with the aim to produce and promote color selection, whereas the service is the function of marketing of the prediction packages and the product of the color forecasting process. Prediction packages are used within the industry to assist in their color decisions and make the resulting products achieving optimum sales by meeting needs, desires and preferences of a consumer. 

There is a casual language in which color combinations have features and a defined scope. Being associated with a particular lifestyle, these combinations are closely related to shape, pattern and material. We find the sociological approach to fashion as a system of different organizations and institutions. It produces fashion with the help of a structured cultural process.

Thus, fashion arises due to the selective choice results which are made by cultural mediators. They take inspiration from different sources which are then picked up and translated into fashion trends. Hence, it becomes relevant to the selective praxis of trend forecasting. Color forecasters take a position somewhere in the middle of it between production and consumption. The objective of color forecasters is to transfer cultural and social information to the chain of production. In order to legitimate cultural practices and symbols, they rely on the high cultural capital. 

We have divided the process of data collection that makes up the actual forecast process into steps analyzing color archives, statistical hard data, participating in fashion system occurring etc.  The process of data collection consists of objective facts and subjective experiences. The preferences of forecaster’s methodology and their clients influence on the attention degree which is given to each step. After collecting data, forecaster divided information into categories; each of them depicts a certain pattern. Intuition, creativity, color expertise and inspiration are considered to be the factors that help the forecaster interpret the patterns. The final color story for the coming season consists of the evaluated themes in terms of market readiness and synchronicity.

The presentation of the forecasted nuances can be in form of the united story or be divided into the original themes. Depending on the medium, the final color stories may be presented with the help of presentations (seminars, workshops and in front of a big audience) or published materials. The forecasted colors may be reproduced on the materials only after the reports have been published. Color stories may also be communicated online but with the limitation of color range due to the screen.

Thus, the forecast outputs are that of vital importance to the actual color planning of a company in relation to other factors and values which should not be neglected by designers and management in the process of collection creating. The color forecast greatly depends on the customers, market, and style of design, lead-time and others. The decision about the use of color forecasting material is influenced by different management philosophies, creative approaches and good design.

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