October 25, 2021

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The Twilight renaissance: Why retailers need social media for trend forecasting

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Gen Z is embracing a new style icon: Bella Swan, the main protagonist from the Twilight film franchise.

If you’re familiar with the movies, you may be rightfully confused. After all, Bella’s costume design is purposefully simple. She’s meant to go unnoticed. It’s what makes a 17-going-on-107-year-old vampire falling in love with her all the more interesting. But thanks to the combined forces of Netflix and social media, teens are flocking to thrift stores to find everything you probably wore back in 2010.

This is yet another trend that was born without the help of any designer or magazine. It started online, and it marks a major change in the world of fashion. Creators are the new tastemakers and their inspiration can come from just about anywhere. Even a vampire romance movie from 2008. Here’s why.

How social influences fashion trends

Social media has changed the way we consume information and naturally, that applies to fashion. In the past, style inspiration was limited to what was seen on screen or in magazines. Now, thanks to highly visual mediums like Pinterest, Instagram and TikTok, fresh fashion ideas are available at the swipe of your finger.

Anyone with a smartphone and a sartorial vision can become a trendsetter. Even major brands are taking note. Earlier this month at New York Fashion Week, popular TikTokers joined celebrities and journalists at shows like Tom Ford, Tommy Hilfiger and more.

3 social-first fashion trends that made waves in 2021

Social can turn everyday consumers into stylists with massive followings. Through outfit of the day (OOTD) pics, outfit idea videos and must-have product reviews, they’re driving peer buying habits faster than most media outlets can keep up with.

To better understand this phenomenon, here’s a quick rundown of three trends that started online rather than the runway.

The Twilight renaissance

The look: Henleys, boot cut jeans and lots of layering. If it looks like Bella Swan might have worn it in the 2008 film adaptation of Twilight, it fits the vibe.

The source: Bella Swan-core is a direct result of what is being called “the Twilight renaissance.” In July, Netflix added all four Twilight films to its catalog, resulting in a huge resurgence in popularity for the franchise.

Using Sprout Social’s Advanced Listening tool, we analyzed 336 Tweets from July 1, 2021, to September 21, 2021, that referenced Twilight and key terms like “style” or “fashion.” More than half of these messages  (54%) have a positive sentiment, 25%  neutral and 21% have a negative sentiment (mainly held by skeptics of the trend’s longevity). The topic holds the power to create conversation, with over 54,000 engagements and an overall engagement rate of 161%.

Crochet and yarn crafts

The look: Cool and colorful handmade crochet looks taking inspiration from classic ‘60s patterns and modern silhouettes.

The source: The pandemic caused crochet to take off in a major way, as time spent in lockdown freed up time for people to practice more tactile hobbies. According to the 2021 Pinterest Predicts report, there was a 155% increase in searches year over year for “crochet basics” from 2019 to 2020. The trend is here to stay and even the most craft-averse style aficionados are into it. The Zoe Report called it the defining trend of summer 2021, but crochet looks are already dominating spring 2022 collections.

The men of the ‘90s

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The look: The normcore looks served by Chandler Bing, Jerry Seinfeld and Frasier are inspiring a new generation of men to rock understated basics with 90’s flair.

The source: ‘90s TV classics continuously shuffle around streaming services, as they compete for the exclusive offerings needed to attract new customers. When a service loses or gains the rights to a fan favorite, it drives an uptick in social conversations that brings the show back into the zeitgeist. We’ve seen it happen when Netflix lost Friends to HBOMax in late 2019, and again when HBOMax released the Friends reunion special.

3 trend forecasting tips for retail brands

Keeping an eye out for relevant social media trends that align with your brand is a full-time job (or department) in itself, but we know a lot of brands aren’t there yet. If you’re interested in creating a trendspotting process for your brand or want to refine your current practices, here are some tips to get started.

1. Follow the memes

Memes work for more than just quick laughs during work breaks. If you dig deep enough, they can be powerful trend forecasting tools too.

Before people were searching “Bella Swan fashion” on Pinterest, they were sharing memes. Throwaway lines from Twilight were inspiring jokes across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more.

Memes drive trends because they usually require some amount of cultural knowledge to be in on the joke. As more people create content poking fun at pop culture, it encourages others to check it out so they can be in on the joke. In Twilight’s case, as people continued to revisit the films, they left with more than comedic relief. They got style inspiration.

2. Stay in tune with your audience

The internet is home to countless communities, each with its own interests and trending topics. Even the world’s greatest social media manager could not possibly keep up with everything trending online, all the time.

That’s why it’s important to find and follow creators who align with your target audience. Think of it as your trend swipe file. This will help you identify and adapt the trends that will do the most for your brand.

Urban Outfitters does this by using viral style hacks to promote their products. To put their own spin on the DIY silk scarf tops that have dominated Pinterest and TikTok since early this summer, the brand recreated the trend using crochet square scarves.

This creative iteration on a style craze pushes the envelope on what was already popular with their target audience. It highlights the versatility of their products while encouraging consumers to look at them in a new light.

3. Use a social listening tool

Passive scrolling can offer some indication of your audience’s next big thing, but if you really want to pressure test your ideas, you need a social listening tool.

With social listening, brands can zoom out and assess the larger social conversations that are happening around their industry and audience. Gathering this cultural context will help you assess where you fit in the larger conversation, providing inspiration for messaging, product styling, inventory decisions and more.

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Tools like Sprout Social’s Advanced Listening can help you uncover even the micro-trends your target consumers are invested in to help shape future products, collections and campaigns. All you need to do is identify the keywords that are starting conversations in your industry. From there, you can dig into insights by sentiment, demographics, date and more.

Spot the next big trend before it breaks through

Learning how to proactively spot trends on social is the key to maintaining relevance with your target audience. If you want to get a sneak peek at what your fans will crave next, download this social media listening map. This fail-proof framework will help you zero in on the insights to look for, so you can find tomorrow’s trends today.

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