PROMOSTYL – Q&A WITH FERIEL KAROUI
Established in 1966, Promostyl Parisian trend forecasting office was a pioneer of such services in the textile industry. Beside a trendbook targeted at different market sectors (fashion, design, interiors, cosmetics, packaging…), published two years in advance, the company offers its clients tailor-made services: planning a strategy and brand positioning, helping in product development of the collection, communication and sale, it also regularly organizes workshops and conferences. Feriel Karoui I spoke to has been working in Promostyl head office for many years. She told me what her work looks like and shared some valuable tips for aspiring trendwatchers.
TRENDSPOT – How did you get into the trend forecasting office?
Feriel Karoui – When I was a student, I had some difficulties to choose what I wanted to do. I was hesitating between journalism, image management and consumer behavior analysis. During a journalism internship, I had the opportunity to assist to a Trend forecasting office conference. It was a mix of everything I wanted to do! Then I send an application to all the trend office of Paris, and my background in graphism, communication and marketing fits Promostyl requirements. I started then as an intern as a project manager. It was more than 10 years ago… They then send me to China in 2007 to develop the market. I entered the French Institut of Fashion in Paris to give more strengh and skill to my profile in 2009, did some freelance for several trend agencies, among which Promostyl of course, and reintegrated the office last year as a Consulting Creative Manager.
What function you have in Promostyl? What are your main responsibilities?
I am now in charge of the Strategic part for our client, i.e deciphering the trends in terms of consumer behaviours, branding, style, colors, and communication… This can be developed under several shapes and media: conferences, tailor made consulting, reports for our website and blog, inputs for the trendbooks…
We don’t really develop trends, we analysis what exist on the market to forecast what would be next in term of creative development (in terms of fashion, design, behaviours, technology…)Usually, 2 times a year, we invite experts, stylists, and our team around a table and we discuss about what we think is important and how it could evolve In a near future. It can be about a fabric, a color, a consequence of a technology, a kind of aesthetic, design, a sociological mouvement… We gather our ideas, thoughts, documents, analysis, to determinate key axis, key movements and direction on which we will then develop our trend recommandation. To be a trendsetter and really understand the job, you need to observe and analysis a lot. A trend doesn’t exist by itself if it is not validated by several people so the trendsetter needs to “feel” and prove picking different emerging movement, from design to cultural events, to affirm that a trend is emerging.
Experience is a key aspect of the job, since the more “historical archive” you have, the more you are keen to feel what will be next.
How long is the preparation of content for trendbook and at what stages of development it can be divided?
First of all, there is the bi-annual meeting that constitute the kick off of the season. Then each team develop usually 4 different directions, that can fit to different kind of market (for example an axis that will be very innovative, an other one a bit more retro, an other one very natural, an other one inspire by a specific area…) Once the conception is done, the graphic designers and stylists are putting everything in shapes. The process last about 5 months from the first creative meeting to the book release.
What is the process of decoding the information that you collect from the environment?
We mostly do connections. One element alone, even If it is very interesting, is not enough. We need to find others to have a perspective. (you need at least 2 points to create a perspective :)) The more you have elements, the more you know that the trend is strong. Especially if you find crossover elements (design, fashion, food…) then you have something interesting and conceptual)
While researching, we find the trends that may become popular in two months or a much longer time? What signals tell us that something is still developing, or that can become popular any day?
The experience! And the cycle. For instance, we know that the 80’s have been very popular. But the new generation of consumer and designers are more nostalgic now of the 90’s… And we know that in a couple of years that would be the 00’s and so on… Then, if you see something new happening in the fashion industry that you see as well in home interior, you know that something long term is going on…
Do you have any favorite sources from which you get your information? Portals, blogs, magazines…
It can be everything, a poster in the street, a conversation you have with a friend, economic newspaper, design blogs… everything but fashion, even if we look at them, cause the trends is already there. If we look at fashion blog, we will look at new designers that are not yet influenced by the business and are catching what’s happening, the famous “l’air du temps”
Is there any group (i.e. consumer group) that you particularly observe?
Young people, cause they bring freshness and new attitude on the market. The “Active workers” cause they are the core of the consumption, and the senior, cause they have the money!
Do you have books in your bookcase that can be inspiring for people dealing with issues of and trend forecasting?
I would recommande the “Trendforecaster handbook” that explain well the business.
In Poland we can observe a growing interest in the trendwatching subject, which until recently was very low. How do you see the development of this area? What do you think – why is there a growing interest in trend forecasting generally?
Poland, as many Est European countries and BRICs, have a booming economy. And we can consider Fashion and trend as a Softpower for these populations that are opening themselves to mass consumption thanks to a middle class that become more and more powerful and tend to experience new things and wants to embrace modernity without talking to much about politics. And this is what trends and fashion do: this softpower allow everyone to express themselves the way they want and show they belong to something more universal that is the trend, carried by everyone but interpreted with an individual way.
Do you think that in your work counts more intuition or deep and accurate research? Why?
I would say that intuition comes first, and then we have to double check with the analysis if we were right. But analysis can bring as well small signals that our intuition would have missed. One can’t do without the other.
What action would you recommended to those wishing to take a similar path to your career?
Being curious of everything, having a strong culture, deep understanding of the big movements in our world… and why not using the new technology to get an e-reputation to get legitimate in the business.
Can you name for the blog readers one trend that will attain popularity in the coming year?
I really think the way we will produce and consumer will be influenced by this new generation of makers and that industrial business will have to integrate new kind of production, with smaller scale and more respectful of the environment and of the consumer. We won’t talk about B to C or B to B but H to H, Human 2 Human, and this is a good and optimistic message brought by the Generation Z.
Photos from Promostyl.