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How does a trend scout actually work?

Embarrassing or totally trendy, in or out? Opinions quickly diverge on fashion issues. Nevertheless, there are definitely trends that determine the style. Looks and fashion pieces that can be seen everywhere and that the stores have disproportionately in their assortment. Tikbow spoke with two trend scouts from Berlin about their unusual profession.

What does a trend scout do?

For a trend scout, it is primarily a matter of recognizing and formulating fashion trends and developments in good time, whereby the customers for expert advice are primarily fashion manufacturers or buyers for large textile chains: Manufacturers want to know what the trends are for cuts, colors and materials, fashion stores need to plan and design their assortment. At this point, the expert makes a precise distinction between "Long Term" or "Macro Trends" – vegan fashion will hold up in the long term, while "Destroy Denim", "Vintage Washes" or the good old flared trousers will rank right at the top of the trend barometer in the short term.

Trend scouts plan two seasons in advance

Martin Wuttke (not to be confused with the actor of the same name) is someone who knows exactly what matters in the industry. "In our work, we are mostly concerned with long-term trends. A very important aspect is the analysis of current colors, which my wife and I have to determine for two fashion seasons in advance," says the Berlin designer and trend scout. Curiosity and networking are essential for the job of a trend scout, and you should also have the stamina to travel. Wuttke: "We travel a lot, especially to Asia. But of course we are also often in Paris and Milan. These are important destinations that we regularly use for our research;

International fashion and textile fairs, catwalk shows or fashion weeks serve as inspiration, but at the same time smaller exhibitions or events in Berlin. In addition, he and his wife are networked with many designers, musicians and artists, explains Wuttke.

Fashion scouts Uta Riechers-Wuttke and Martin Wuttke
The Berlin fashion scouts  Martin Wuttke and Uta Riechers-WuttkePhoto: Michael Schehl

What does a trend scout observe?

We are constantly looking at changes,” explains Martin Wuttke. "Especially in the areas of lifestyle, art and music, but also how the situation in retail is moving, for example, what new types of store concepts are available." In addition, new types of materials and manufacturing processes are very important." But not all trends are the same: What is true for overseas does not necessarily work in Europe. Picking THE hit for the coming season from the palette of countless fashion trends therefore requires good intuition and a bit of luck. "With the information we gather, we develop forecasts that are important for the manufacturers. Especially in the areas of color, cut shapes, shoe styles or even bag shapes", says the trend scout.

It’s often things that don’t look like fashion or a trend at first glance that signal the start of a new movement or a change in lifestyle. It was already clear at the first Friday for Future demo that there would be a move towards sustainable fashion, explains the trend scout.

Generally speaking, trends must be filtered, analyzed and defined in good time! Too early is not helpful, too late recognized a trend is under circumstances already banished again or has its peak "exceeded." An important tip from the trend expert: "You have to learn to eliminate your own taste patterns. A clear distinction must be made between what is a personal recommendation and which new trends are right and important for the brand;

What is currently trending?

Sustainability is currently the big topic in the fashion industry. "Slow fashion is now catching on with consumers. Collections that have been produced fairly are slowly gaining in importance," Wuttke knows. Another trend is hybrid fashion, i.e. products that combine classic and sporty. As an example, the expert cites the so-called "Hybrid Loafer" – a classic shoe combined with a sneaker sole. In addition, there is a focus on so-called "Gender Free Fashion": "Thanks to artists like Billie Eilish, more and more young consumers are becoming enthusiastic about "unisex", "genderfree" fashion and styling." In addition, white sneakers are a real trend perennial, as are "oversized"blouses for women. Currently extremely trendy: an unlined cotton jacket with patch pockets.

What does a trend scout earn?

"The daily rates or fees are staggered quite differently", explains Martin Wuttke. In general, it always depends on the scope of work. Depending upon kind of the offer a Workshop über four days with trend presentation in China can amount to around 4000 euro. However, this also means days of preparatory work, the creation of a presentation, the stay on site and sometimes a 19-hour day. Other projects, however, we create in two days, which are then also cheaper;

Can you learn to be a trend scout?

In general: For the job you need sound expertise, but there is no clear training. Most are career changers from the fields of fashion, music, architecture or art, although according to Wuttke, "marketing experts, social scientists, or art scholars are also very successful in trend agencies.

In general, an apprenticeship or a degree in fashion is definitely helpful. "We started with an apprenticeship as a garment maker, followed by training in tailoring. Then came studies in Paris, at the Royal Academy in Antwerp and at the Lette Verein in Berlin. During our studies we already designed streetwear collections as freelancers and worked for a Paris trend office,” the trend scouts explain their own career. In the 90s the couple founded their own label: “We designed and produced our own textile collection Next G+U.R+U Now in Berlin and distributed it internationally. Meaning: We know the complete way from the first drawing "to prototypes, fittings, trade fair presentation, catwalk shows and distribution from our own experience." Today the Wuttkes concentrate on the development of collections for manufacturers such as Helly Hansen, New Yorker and Karstadt Sport. Focus: leather goods, shoes and bags.