Yet the industry?[13] While traditional logic might

Yet another area where Edelkoort Inc. sets itself apart is through their popular lecture, “The Method of Trend Forecasting,” put on by the New York office every few months for Edelkoort’s current and prospective clients, as well as for the occasional student or college lecturer. Above all else, this lecture is the primary platform through which the company espouses its trend ideology. With attendance capped at around 10-15 guests maximum, the talk is closer to a workshop or roundtable discussion than lecture; and at nearly three hours long, the format makes for a comfortable morning of mutual exchange over coffee and croissants.However, the company’s motivations for putting on such an event are unclear; for, if they are in a sense “giving away” all of their secrets, aren’t they undercutting the company’s edge in the industry?13 While traditional logic might suggest that this is the case, the statistical reality of trend forecasting as a profession suggests that even if she were revealing a closely guarded secret to the company’s success, the chances of any one person actually getting a foot in the door to this insular industry in any substantial way are slim to none. One’s chances of finding work at Edelkoort or Trend Union are especially slim as the company, worldwide, employs only a few dozen people who have worked for the company virtually since its inception in 1980, with only two employed full time in the New York office (adding to the familial atmosphere in the workplace). More broadly, a New York Times article entitled “Roaming the World, Detecting Fashion,” Eilene Zimmerman writes that worldwide, there are only 1,000-1,500 professional trend forecasters, many of whom work in entry-level positions making a barely-livable (in New York at least) annual salary of $20,000.14 Similarly, CNN Money reports that there may be as few as 750 forecasters worldwide, many of whom work largely in front of computers, generating content for meager pay; they go on say it can take upwards of 15 years in the business to make a six-figure salary and have those exotic globetrotting experiences that are so often associated with the profession.15However, the “Method of Trend Forecasting” lecture doesn’t linger on the viability of a career in trend forecasting. Rather, the talk is thick with descriptions of Edelkoort’s jaunts around the globe in the name of research, which function to legitimize the value of the Edelkoort process to potential clients. In one such talk, guests were wooed by tales from a recent trip to an exclusive health resort in Marrakesh where a forecaster rode horses, indulged in Shiatsu massages, and woke early to do yoga with a private instructor at sunrise. While no discrete parallels were drawn with regard to how this experience may or may not have influenced trend insights, the trip was invoked anecdotally as an example of how the diligent forecaster must expose herself to a world of experiences, observing along the way, in order to later forecast future trends. Again, it is unclear just how such a holistic methodology translates into reports on fashion silhouettes, color predictions, or trends in interior design, but such tales of introspection and travel are not uncommon from industry insiders. Like those at Edelkoort Inc., WGSN forecaster Isham Sardouk says, “There’s no way of explaining forecasting. There is a lot of intuition,”16 while Sharon Graubard, formerly of StyleSight, has said that “forecasting is a sixth sense…you can feel a trend bubbling up on the streets and then you find the seeds of it on the catwalk.”17Still, a question remains as to how forecasters can compile tableaus of the future when they only have imagery, experiences, and objects of the present from which to draw inspiration. For example, how can a forecaster, in effect, “see the future” whilst luxuriating at a spa that is very much of the present moment? The short answer is that she doesn’t, nor do any of forecasting’s principal futurists. In one telling experience from my summer at Edelkoort Inc., I got to spend the afternoon with one of Edelkoort’s Paris-based trend assistants as he prepared to “go hunting” for inspiration for the forthcoming Spring/Summer 2013 forecast in New York’s more bohemian neighborhoods. As he mapped out bespoke men’s tailoring shops, antique stores, and new interior design shops to visit, I asked him how he planned to cull visions of the future from extant (and mute) objects. His response was that while a trend forecaster cannot literally “see the future,” he can seek out glimmers of new ideas in extant objects (an intriguing fabric, a clever arrangement of objects, an isolated shape, etc.) and either keep them whole (for photographing later) or repurpose or recombine the objects to designate a more futuristic vision. Played out on the pages of Edelkoort’s Trend Forecast, the viewer is presented with themes (of which there are upwards of 10-20 in each forecast) that, at once, seem familiar yet also on the verge—attesting to the forecaster’s elusive ability to sense what’s to come, while also calling into question who exactly these elusive “trendmakers” even are. 

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