The importance of history in the colour forecasting process

Colour forecasting process

Tsumori Chisato Pre-Fall 2017: Colour in action

As Director of the Colour Team here at WGSN, one of the most common questions that I’m asked is how do we create our colour trends and predict the key colours that are going to be best-sellers in two years time?

The approach that we have at WGSN is to follow several paths. Here’s an insider look at how we approach our research, when it comes to the colour forecasting process:


Jane Monnington Boddy, WGSN Colour Director

Jane Monnington Boddy, WGSN Colour Director


The first thing we do before we look forward is to look back.

I started working as a designer back in the early 1990’s and have over 20 years experience working in the industry. Throughout my career in fashion I’ve worked globally, everywhere from Australia to China, to North America and extensively in Europe. I’ve seen with my own eyes how colour itself, and specifically key colours have gone in and out of fashion.


Helmut Lang's 90s colour palette

Helmut Lang’s 90s colour palette

helmut lang 1990's

For example in the 1990’s, colour was all about the perfect neutrals, grey was a key colour, then the 2000’s saw colour become softer with wash techniques emerging in the industry, leaning towards chalkier tones as these techniques became less in vogue and cleaner looks came in.

And now, under the influence of progressive active brands and the technology boom we have seen a dramatic move to a love of colour (which I personally am very happy about!)
Colour is so key right now, and it’s a really exciting time to be involved in colour trend forecasting.

We’ve watched colour flourish recently, as Pink became a huge influencer in 2014, and we predicted its ascent in our WGSN SS16 theme Soft Pop, forecasting that it would be hugely popular in 2016 (it’s now an Instagram staple and brands are building their entire brand strategies around the importance of this Millennial Pink).


That said, colour has to evolve, the progression for strong pinks under the influence of the 1980’s emerging trend is to become stronger. We’ve now forecasted the move towards more purple tinted tones in our SS17 theme Digital Wave (WGSN subscribers can check it out here)


So, what’s the key takeaway when it comes to colour prediction? I think that to be successful in predicting colour trends you need to look back to look forwards, to understand the subtle changes that take place (is this colour on the cusp, or in danger of becoming over saturated, is it starting to evolve with deeper tones as a reflection of the times?) The key is to look around you at what’s happening in the design industries (and society as a whole, from politics, to tech to social unrest, to tech detoxes and a return to nature) to see how this is influencing peoples attitudes towards colour.
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