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So, +Allyson Dykhuizen tweeted this morning about Jo-Ann stores declaring ruffle yarns a "hot new trend."

...And this has me wondering: just how important ARE trends to you in doing your creative work? Does following trends lead you to more sales? Do you follow trends you don't personally like because they'll lead to sales?

Do you believe in the authority of whoever the heck it is that makes these trends? And why are trends important to human existence, anyway?

I'd love to chew on these questions with you!
Eileen Hull's profile photoHerArt SheLoves's profile photoHeather K. Powers (HKpowerStudio)'s profile photoDiane Gilleland's profile photo
I'm not a "trends" person, but that might be because I don't go into craft stores too much. I'm more of a scavenger- I get a lot of my supplies from Goodwill and through swaps, or from auctions.

That said- in my business I do watch Pantone and I definitely use the color trend predictions in my dyeing. If I see a predicted color begin to trend, I dye it, and it does sell like hotcakes.
I think there is a difference between pointing your handmade products in a fashion forward direction and using so called trendy craft products. And usually these ideas do not go hand in hand!
I make jewelry that I would be proud to wear - no matter the trend. I also sell internationally, so I find that season, colors and styles can be done anytime of the year - no matter the trend or local 'style'. I think that if you create something that you love and that is 'classic' and 'well made' the rest will work itself out! - Just me!
If people want to buy coral yarn because it is "in" this season, I will definitely make it! It's really pretty, and I'm always excited to try and meet the challenge of making the season's newest "it" color. There are usually a few iterations I can make and it's always fun to see which versions are most popular. But I'm not excited about ruffle yarns, despite their being in this season, because they sort of bother my hands and I never really like how they look knit up. So- I agree, Allyson- there's definitely a difference.
I'm trend-phobic to an almost silly degree. I guess I just have an aversion to anyone I don't know and trust telling me what's worth my attention. (I'm not saying this is necessarily healthy, it's just there.) :-)

...But why do you guys think humans seem to need trends? What the heck are they for - do they serve any purpose other than driving sales?
Maybe it's a desire for newness?
I am a little trend phobic too. I have to admit, I am really glad I missed the fun fur in knitting, and will be missing the ruffle yarn. If I'm going to put that much work into a product, I want it to last.

As far as trends being necessary, I do think it is driven by industries to drive sales. It is a way to keep our consumist economy consuming. It certainly gives certain eras their look. After all, what would the 80's be without big hair and shoulder pads?
Heh! They would, admittedly, be far less awesome, +Paula Dennis ! And also admittedly, part of why I love Mad Men so much is diving into all that gorgeous 60's fashion - and that's very trend-based.

...Even so, trends often feel just arbitrary to me - like that ruffle yarn. Declaring something a trend seems to me to be another way of saying "Boy, are you gonna be hating this thing six month from now!"
I pretty much ignore anything that the mainstream labels as "trendy," however if I notice a trend in my own corner of the blogosphere, that's a different story. I tend to think that if a large group of people that I admire on the internet is into a particular thing, then it's worth exploring. I trust the taste of my peers more than the marketing execs at Michael's ;-)
To me, by the time something hits the mainstream stores like Jo-Ann or Michaels the trend is officially dead. I look to the streets and my thrift store "ah ha" moments for trend forecasting.
Unless trends legitimately correspond with my personal design style, I don't tend to integrate them into my work. I do, however, think that it's valuable to be aware of what's hot in the community so that when there is overlap between current trends and my work, I can use that to my advantage. My designs tend to have a more edgy, modern aesthetic than mainstream tastes, but when they do touch on a popular theme, I'm in no way opposed to promoting a project as "on trend" to better reach my audience/drive traffic.
+Lisa Clarke , you made me realize that there's "trendy" for people who rely on mainstream, corporate-produced info channels, and then there's "trendy" for people who dwell primarily in internet communities. And I totally agree - I have no interest in mainstream "trendy" as offered up by Jo-Ann, etc. at all, but I'll at least take note of when, say, owls have their stylistic day in the online craft world.

...Although I'd then wait however long it took for owls to be no longer trendy before I bought anything with owls on it. :-)
Another question for all of you, then - who decides what's "hot" or "trendy?" And on what basis do we trust their judgement?
Ah, +Diane Gilleland , but then, if you were interested enough in owls to consider them for a future purchase, you might think of involving owls right away in any products you were crafting for purchase by others, wouldn't you? If you liked owls anyway, you might as well let them make you a little cash.

I feel that way about granny squares. I would be plenty happy just working on projects on my own, but once I saw them popping up all over my favorite blogs, I decided it might be worth my while to write up a tutorial/pattern for the blanket I was working on anyway. It was a good decision. Sooner or later, it may end up paying for my yarn ;-)
I always trust my instincts for what looks refreshing & just go for it. Right now I'm feeling over the top color and pattern mixes. This week at the rummage sale I got some 70s dishcloths with great (unusual) color palettes that I'll use for a textile design. And some kinda God awful 80s old lady geometric silk shirts that I'm turning into boxy tops.
+Lisa Clarke , you and +Haley Pierson-Cox are right - especially in this crazy economy, we do what we have to in order to foster business. And playing into trends might end up being part of that.

I'm pretty lucky in that the market I speak to isn't all that trend-oriented. Or at least, they haven't come to expect that from me. :-)
Can't follow trends, or one minute I would be making owl robot and the next robots covered in gears. I only try to keep up with holidays and seasonal styles, Wedding Cake Toppers, Christmas Bots, Graduation Bots, that keeps me business enough.
It behooves me to follow trends and hop on what's "hot"-because I know (as a product reviewer) that folks will be Googling that topic and looking for reviews, info, tips, etc. That's how "washi tape" came to be my #1 keyword search term! However, these trends may or may not bleed into my personal craft aesthetic. Rather, when I make a piece it's to tell a story...and I use whichever materials help tell that tale, trendy or no.
I am willing to try a trend if I like it. I have always loved wearing the color coral. It's hot now and I like it; it means I can buy more of it! But I would never make/buy something just because it's trendy. I think I'm learning in my craft to trust my own instincts. Last year, someone in "the business" told me most of my things wouldn't sell and instructed me to make only one type of product. I panicked and started to try to make a bunch of these "correct" products. Those didn't sell and I ended up making things I wasn't passionate about. Lesson learned. I think good work will do well in the end rather than some piece you created just to be trendy.
Another thought in response to "humans needing trends." I wonder if people have evolved to need a certain amount of copying. You learn to eat and survive by watching those around you. It was important to have social acceptance to be protected by the group. Maybe these traits are now showing up in less critical ways, like fashion. That being said, what about the people who go the other way? What's going on with their genes?
Ooh, +Jenny Chang you are speaking my language here! I love that idea - definitely, as humans, we need to feel like we belong. And owning something that "everyone else is crazy about" gives us a powerful message of belonging.

Also love that story about trying to make the "correct" products! One of the many things I love about the web age is that every one of us gets a shot at bringing our unique vision to the world, and finding that little knot of people who really "get it." And like you said - that's about passions, not trends.
i watch trends. pay attention. and then try to interpret them best for my customers. since i'm so heavy fashion based, it's "sort of" important. i think people like "trends" because it guides them into what they "think" they need to follow. does that make sense? :)
+Diane Gilleland Thanks. I studied animal behavior for awhile so I tried to put a bit of a survival spin on your question. I actually pictured chimpanzees, which are my favorite, existing in a group.
I rarely follow trends in my purchases, because by the time I figure out what is in, it's out. But for my patterns, I try to work with a yarn that is at least not about to be discontinued, and in a color that Pantone says will be in style for a year or so, because then it will be easier for my sister-in-law the brilliant photographer to make pretty pictures to market my pattern with when because she dresses her models to highlight my knitted/crocheted whatever. If the photo is lovely (and the yarn is still available) the the pattern will at least rack up hearts on Ravelry, and hopefully sell! If not...well, at least I kept the money for the photo shoot in the family.
I definitely think it has to do with the desire to belong, to feel a part of a group or whole...and for many, becoming a part of a trend evokes a feeling of moving in the "right" direction, of having a positive anchor in a larger community.
If you think about the essence of the word "trend" it really is about a movement in a certain direction,
So I think that trends can be very different and the difference is about how that trend came to be.
Firstly there are the trends that are manufactured and are really just marketting campaigns in disguise. "Someone" has a product they want to sell and then creates an appealing asthaetic around it and gets as many images and ideas out their to convince us all that we need or want it.
But there are times when someone in the creative sphere comes up with a truly different and inspiring idea. That idea is so inspiring and look so impressive and fresh that others want to take it on board and work with it and hopefully make it their own. I think the use of solid fabrics in patchwork and quilting would be a good example if this.

So far as why are trends important in the human existence.
I agree that they create a sense of belonging, an external badge that says "I know what is cool and I have the finances to be cool"
On a more positive note maybe some trends are a shared creative experience where we can foster each others talents and learn and grow in a stimulating and exciting creative environment
+Maryanne Docker , That's a really fascinating take on trends! Your idea of them being a kind of creative catalyst gives me a nice, positive frame to temper by general grumpiness about them, and I really appreciate that.

+Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, that desire for belonging really is strong in us all, isn't it? You have me thinking that, even though I'm trend-phobic, my own desire to belong just manifests in other ways - the the underlying emotion isn't all that different.

+Christine Guest , I wonder what Pantone bases their assessment of a color's longevity on? How interesting, to be able to say that a color will be in style for the next YEAR. How the heck do they predict such things? (And what goes on behind the scenes to reinforce their prediction?)
RE: Pantone and color trend longevity, self-fulfilling prophecy, perhaps?
I think it's not so much what colors will be in style so much as what colors will be available.

Finding out how they do it might make an interesting blog post.
I love trends because they draw attention to certain things all at once that you may not otherwise have noticed. And I think some creative people really push the edges of their own ideas by trying to build on trends ... while that sometimes results in a lot of copycat work, it can also lead to really cool new ideas that are fun to see develop.

As a blogger, I do sometimes write about the latest trends and try to put my own spin on them. That said, I have no interest in writing about a trend that doesn't interest me personally just because it's trendy. And I don't think trends should ever take precedence over personal style.

My two sense.
I'm really liking that take, +Kathryn Vercillo . Definitely, there are particular color combos or visual ideas I probably wouldn't encounter if it weren't for the fact that they'd become trendy somehow. I think I can make some room in my crabby, trend-phobic world-view for that idea. :-) Thank you!
Trends are very interesting to me. I often wonder if a group of designers from different mediums got together and started featuring projects with a particular theme or icon- say windows for example, on their blogs, Etsy stores, etc., would windows become a trend because people saw that evolving? I personally don't follow a trend because someone says it is, but might if I liked it. Do the manufacturers copy what they see coming out or are we, the creators, in charge of how trends develop? Anyone up for an experiment?
+Eileen Hull +Diane Gilleland When I visit the big box craft stores, it often feels like an Etsy trend from a year or two before... owls, scrabble charms and so on... I thought the trends come from trade shows. Venders telling buyers what the next big thing will be... "2012 Yarn!"... two years ago Joanns was head to toe in those wall decals, which didn't seem to catch on.

I vote, of course, for robot sculptures as a trend. However, I think robots are timeless. ;)
I don't personally follow trends for the sake of them but like Eileen I might if they spark my creative juices. I think as a Designer it's important to be aware of trends but not necessarily follow them. I think they can be a form of departure for your own creative ideas. As a commercial designer I was constantly required to be aware of trends and incorporate them into my designs. Trends are market driven and can't necessarily be ignored in some markets but don't have to be followed by all markets.
+Heather Solvers , I so agree - and I see things I was seeing online last year and before showing up in print mags all the time - including Martha Stewart Living. It's almost like our online community is the "street" incubator for craft trends, and the industry/Pantone et al is the "mainstream" incubator.

+Heather Powers , I like your balanced take on this.
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