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Trend Beacons    cover photo

Trend Beacons 2014


Distributed by Grasshopper Films, 12 East 32nd St., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016
Produced by Markell Brothers
Directed by Örn Marino Arnarson and Thorkell Hardarson
DVD, color, 88 min.

Middle School - General Adult
Clothing Industry, Apparel Marketing, Clothing Trend Forecasting

Date Entered: 02/07/2017

Reviewed by Christopher Lewis, American University Library, American University

The worldwide apparel industry generates nearly $1 trillion in revenue annually so there is enormous demand for new designs and products but where do the ideas start? This documentary, directed by Örn Marino Arnarson and Thorkell Hardarson, provides the viewer with a verité-style look into the work lives of a group of trend spotters as they attempt to describe their methods for divining consumers’ tastes before they emerge.

Though several individuals are interviewed to establish what it means to be a modern-day trend spotter, the video settles in on three primary narratives. The cerebral Christine Boland, with camera in hand, is constantly on-the-go gathering design ideas for her semi-annual inspiration books; the emphatic and business-like David Shah publishes color and design trend magazines; and finally there’s the eccentric duo Ravage, consisting of Clemens Rameckers and Arnold van Guens, two artists living in high style whose work is guided by their tastes and instincts. Each of the principal narratives is distinct from the others and would make for a fascinating case study unto itself. As a group, they make the techniques of trend spotting look like the work of either sociologists, statisticians, or mystic guides.

Boland compares trend spotting to watching the ocean for the beginning swells that make a wave and predicting how big it’s going to get and which direction it’s headed – by gathering as much input from the environment as possible from what’s going on in the news, what people are wearing, what’s being sold in stores, and the like. As a publisher of several magazines on fashion trends, Shah is networked with designers and color experts from around the world. For him the process is less about having a sixth sense than it is about collaborative work and information gathering to focus on buyers tastes. The Ravage team has an admittedly much less intellectual approach instead embracing a sense of naiveté in their evolving aesthetic and drawing the clients to their personal vision. The pair have been working together for forty years and represent the design guru era that both Boland and Shah believe is passé.

As a production, the video is rather stylized. Its pervasive electronic music track is a bit too present, and the quick cross-cutting between the three main stories is disjointed. However the locations and design-centric lifestyles of the interviewees are colorful and lively and effectively lend themselves to the topic. The viewer will also note more emphasis on personalities and philosophies than on the concrete processes of trend-predicting, nevertheless the video succeeds at illuminating this typically hidden side of consumer society.

Recommended for marketing, advertising, and design programs, particularly around fashion.