If you’ve ever had trouble picking out an outfit from your wardrobe before you step out, imagine trying to put your finger on what’s going to be in fashion months in the future.
You might think that’s impossible, but it’s exactly what Anuradha Chandrasekar and Kanika Vohra, co-founders of fashion-forecasting consulting firm ICH Creative, do on a daily basis.
They use their decades-worth of experience in the industry to help popular brands like Myntra, Amazon and Tata Cliq Luxury to predict the fashion trends of tomorrow.
There are “subliminal” trends in various spaces, such as entertainment, design, politics and technology, that eventually boil down into visual currents in fashion, Chandrasekar explains. “And hence, eventually for fashion to also respond to that is inevitable,” she adds. The trick is to be ahead of the curve.
Two Women On A Journey
Chandrasekar and Vohra crossed paths as part of the founding team at Reliance’s fashion and lifestyle brand, AJIO, where they discovered an immediate connection.
“We got to work together on a startup and discovered that we both had a passion towards thinking new,” Vohra says. “We were both passionate about startups. We were passionate about new ideas. And we complemented each other in our skills.”
Vohra has a background in business and strategy while Chadrasekar’s strengths lie in design and the creative aspects of the business, though both have expanded their skillsets since they started ICH Creative six years ago.
Between them, Chandrasekar and Vohra have more than two decades of experience in the industry.
Thanks to the strong synergy between their respective areas of expertise, the two founders have been successful in developing a unique service in the Indian market, offering comprehensive trend forecasting that caters to the needs of various clients, from large corporations to smaller fashion brands.
The Nitty Gritty Of Forecasting Fashion
It’s fair to say that ICH Creative’s fashion forecasting is a blend of art and science, rooted in an in-depth analysis of a plethora of factors that influence fashion trends.
Their process starts with an exhaustive data collection phase where they pore over a wide array of sources, from global fashion runways and celebrity styles to socio-economic trends and technological advancements.
This wide net ensures that their predictions are not just based on the fashion industry’s inner workings but also on external factors that subtly shape consumer preferences.
The duo pays close attention to both direct and indirect influences on fashion. Direct influences include visible trends in popular culture, like movies and celebrity fashion choices. Indirect influences encompass broader shifts in society, such as political movements, environmental concerns and technological innovations. They boil all of those influences down to certain visual motifs that help anticipate changes in consumer behaviour that generally shapes future trends.
Chadrasekar offer the example of how India’s recent surge in interest for space exploration could translate into a visual aesthetic that plays into those themes.
It’s an ongoing process of observation, keeping their finger on the pulse of the ever-evolving fashion landscape. This vigilance enables them to refine their forecasts continually and stay ahead in a fast-paced industry.
The final step is presenting their findings to clients. Their reports are crafted to be visually engaging, providing clear and actionable insights to brands that hire them as well as the reasoning behind it all. This helps designers and brands to not only understand upcoming trends but also to independently and effectively apply them in their collections.
The Future Is Close
Looking ahead, Chandrasekar and Vohra’s plans for the firm centre on “some serious investments in tech.”
“So right now the tech we have is only helping us in the backend. You don’t see the tech because it helps us get the report out,” Vohra says. “The moment we can have some tech that can even enable the usage from a customer point of view, when they can also dissect the report and take out smaller parts to it, we would have achieved something.”
They plan to invest in advanced technologies like machine learning and large language models to both enhance their forecasting capabilities and making the process cheaper, more efficient and more accessible to a wider clientele.
They also plan on collaborating with Indian artisans and craftspeople, which they say could help them innovate more and at the same time give those industries a boost.
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