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Color, textile and material, and fashion trends are the directions that colors and/or styles are moving in in relation to their popularity among members of a particular social group. Forecasters predict whether colors and/or styles are becoming more popular or less popular, with decision makers in fashion companies using this information in making color and style decisions. Changes in trends in color, textiles and materials, and fashion styles are evolutionary, predictable, and reflect the time, place, and situation. Because of this, trend forecasters research fashion history in order to understand the progression of trends over time and the evolutionary process by which styles become popular. Trends reflect current attitudes, behaviors, events, and the general spirit of popular culture. As such color, textiles and materials, and fashion trends are said to reflect the social “spirt of the times,” also known as the zeitgeist.
Color is one of the most important criteria used by consumers in the selection of fashion products. Therefore, an understanding of consumers’ color preferences is crucial to successfully designing and marketing fashion products. Color forecasting is a process used by forecasting companies, textile manufacturers, and fashion brands to predict the colors that will be popular for upcoming fashion seasons. With apparel, colors including black, navy, white, and beige are considered staple colors or classic colors and are seen almost continuously season after season. Each line typically includes one or more staple color. Fashion brand companies that are known for classic styles and/or materials that represent the brand often use staple colors for their merchandise. Whereas some staple colors remain popular over many years, fashion colors have a shorter fashion life cycle. Fashion colors often follow cycles, reappearing in a different shade, value, or intensity from one fashion season to the next. Color forecasting services study color trends in textiles, apparel, home fashions, and related fields and sell their forecasts to companies throughout the fashion supply chain. Color forecasting services identify a palette of certain hues, values, and intensities that reflect upcoming color trends.
Textile and material trend forecasting are the processes for predicting the fiber, fabric, and finishes that fashion brand companies and the ultimate consumer will desire in future fashion seasons. Forecasters for textiles and materials combine their knowledge of fibers, fabrics, and material science; marketing research; and color forecasts to determine the types and colors of materials that fashion brand companies will want.
Fashion trend forecasting includes the research processes to predict trends in styles that consumers will want in future fashion seasons. Through fashion trend research, forecasters analyze styles across media, arts, popular culture, and lifestyles, identifying emerging themes and applying these to the fashion designs for a particular target customer. Forecasters use resources external to the company (for example, events, trade publications, trade shows) and resources internal to the company (such as observing activities and behaviors of the target customer, examining sales data).
Color, textile/material, and fashion trend forecasting are conducted by trade associations, textile companies, fashion brand companies, and forecasting services. Examples of color and trend forecasting services include Promostyl, WGSN, Fashion Snoops, The Donegar Group, and Trend Union. Fashion companies often subscribe to forecasting services to receive general color and fashion trend information which they then interpret and apply to their particular target customer.
Under Armour designs, develops, markets, and distributes performance sports apparel, footwear, and accessories. Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, Under Armour has operations throughout the United States as well as in Canada, Latin America, Europe, and Asia Pacific and sells merchandise worldwide (Under Armour 2019). Starting in 1996 with moisture-wicking base layer apparel for athletes, Under Armour has focused on creating innovative textiles and apparel designs to enhance the performance of athletes and sports enthusiasts. For example, they offer merchandise made with proprietary performance textiles, HEATGEAR®, COLDGEAR®, and ALLSEASONGEAR® (Under Armour 2018).
As they have grown as a company, Under Armour has added product lines to their offering including athletic footwear, sportswear, and uniforms for American football, basketball, and soccer. One of the specialized product lines the company has added is for golf. Under Armour designs and markets men’s, women’s, and children’s golf clothing including shirts, bottoms, outerwear, golf shoes, and accessories (such as hats and gloves). In 2013, Under Armour signed professional golfer, Jordan Spieth as a sponsored athlete and endorser for Under Armour. At the time, Speith had recently turned pro and was considered part of the new generation of golf professionals (Mullen 2013). Spieth wears Under Armour golf apparel, shoes, and accessories including gloves and headwear with the Under Armour logo and now serves as the “face of Under Armour golf” (Mirabella 2019). In fact, Spieth provided input into the design and development of Under Armour’s Spieth 3 golf shoe (Mirabella 2019).
The design and development teams at Under Armour golf are working on their color, textile trend, and fashion trend forecasts for the upcoming seasons. As a member of this team, you have been asked to compile strategies for conducting these forecasts that will be used by the team as they move forward in their design and development of golf apparel, footwear, and accessories.
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Find in Library and . 2020. The Business of Fashion: Designing, Manufacturing, and Marketing. New York: Fairchild Books/Bloomsbury.
2019. “Under Armour Endorser Jordan Spieth Unveils Newest Signature Golf Shoe.” Los Angeles Times, January 29. Accessed March 6, 2019. https://www.latimes.com/bs-bz-jordan-spieth-golf-shoe20190129-story.html..
2013. “Under Armour Signs New Pro Golfer Speith.” Sports Business Journal, January 14. Accessed March 6, 2019. https://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2013/01/14/Marketing-and-Sponsorship/Under-Armour-Spieth.aspx..
Under Armour. 2018. “Under Armour Annual Report 2017.” Accessed March 6, 2019. https://about.underarmour.com/investor-relations.
2019. “Our Global Focus.” Accessed March 6, 2019. https://careers.underarmour.com/international#inPage-nav..
The author(s) wrote this case solely to provide material for class discussion and independent learning. The authors do not intend to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a situation. The comments and interpretation presented are not necessarily those of the company or its employees.
This background for this case study is based on publicly available information. The business problem of forecasting strategies is speculative only and not based on publicly available and/or documented information from Under Armour.
The case study includes an excerpt, by permission, from Leslie Davis Burns and Kathy K. Mullet, The Business of Fashion: Designing, Manufacturing, and Marketing (New York: Fairchild Books/Bloomsbury, 2020).