Have you ever wondered who makes all those big decisions about what’s “in” in fashion? Us too. We sat down with Erin Fletcher, trend director at Cotton On, one of our Desert Pop Up partners, to find out how her team tackles trend forecasting, buying, and merchandising for the brand.
Below, Erin shares the most rewarding parts of her job, how the industry has changed since she started, and the best advice she’d give to anyone just starting a career in fashion.
Working in trend forecasting/direction sounds like a dream job for a lot of women. Can you tell us a bit about your career path?
I studied design at University and was lucky enough to move straight into the industry once I graduated. I started my career at an iconic Australian retailer which I’d grown up wearing! After working my way up for a few years I took the leap and moved from Australia to the USA where I landed a dream job working for a retailer in Philadelphia – stepping outside my comfort zone, moving across the world was one of the best things I’ve ever done. After a few years in the USA, an opportunity presented itself at home in Australia working for Cotton On which I have always admired. I started my role as the Cotton On Women’s Trend Director in January. My day-to-day role includes creating and setting a vision for trend stories, ensuring the brand’s DNA is protected.
What’s the most rewarding—and most challenging—part of your work?
Rewarding: I work with a creative and dynamic team to deliver amazing and affordable fashion to people on over 18 countries. Working for an Australian based global brand like Cotton On and creating a product that I’m proud of is something I could have only dreamed of when I started out in the industry.
Most challenging? With the introduction of social media new trends are constantly emerging. We’re always working to tight deadlines to deliver the new trends that meet our customer’s needs across the globe.
What advice would you give to someone who’s just starting out in the fashion industry and would like to be where you are someday?
Do more than what’s on your job description! Take every opportunity to learn as much as you can. Don’t be restricted, push yourself to learn from other people and areas. You never know what door it might open in the future.
What are your go-to sources of inspiration for trend forecasting?
Instagram has been a game changer in trend forecasting allowing me to see different trends from around the globe as they’re emerging. I also love to look back on nostalgic references like TV shows and movies from the 80’s and 90’s.
I’m always on the lookout. I find that my weekends are a great time to see what people are wearing on the streets and in my role I’m lucky to travel a lot, which I love! I’m always inspired seeing how people dress differently not only in different countries but different neighbourhoods within a city. New York is a huge inspiration, each borough has a unique look.
Let’s talk about this season in the US. What were some of your trend references for what’s out now?
We’ve been so inspired by 90’s street and surf revival - hello TIE DYE!!!! Being an Australian brand, born on the shores one of Australia’s most iconic surf breaks, Bell’s Beach, I think we really can talk to this first hand! We’re also loving that natural hand crafted vibes like crochet and straw bags. All paired back with your classic denim is going to be huge this summer.
What pieces should we be investing in for summer 2019?
Anything tie dye! The new longer length Bermuda denim shorts, a flippy printed wrap dress and a strappy sport sandal!
How has trend forecasting changed since you started working in fashion?
Global accessibility – geography doesn’t play a part anymore, we’re so connected. I can open my phone and see what people are wearing on the streets of Korea or on the beaches in LA. When I first started you had to physically get on a plane to see global trends. Nothing beats travelling but the introduction of social media and the internet has certainly changed the way we forecast trends and the pace it moves at.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Fortune favours the bold - I accepted a job in a city I had never even set foot in! I moved to the USA and it turned out to be one of the most rewarding & creatively fulfilling times in my life.
If you could go back and tell your 18-year-old self anything, what would it be?
You’ll learn more from the things that you perceive as a negative than those that we’re easy. There will be some bumps along the way, if you can learn from those experiences it makes the success all the more worthwhile.