Thanks Sabi for your comment on my post yesterday. I'd love to share with everyone what I know about trends and how to track them.
I have a degree in Clothing and Textiles and one of the things we studied is how color trends are set. Now, you might ask, why do we have to have color trends? Well, if the same colors were always in style we could wear the same things for years and wouldn't buy new clothes, or paint our homes, or buy new furniture. It's all about making the consumer want to spend more money!
Above are the colors trending for Spring/Summer 2011. This information is available on the internet, I like to go to http://www.fashiontrendsetter.com/content/color_trends.html. This is a fashion trend site and shows what colors will be popular next spring. Usually, these colors are more fashion forward than most of us are. The quilting industry used to be a little more behind but now is much more up-to-date. Part of that has to do with the abundance of designers and the smaller runs quilt fabric manufacturers are producing nowadays. Because the runs are smaller they can take more risks, hence more fashion forward colors.
When I look at this chart what I see is a duller color spectrum. There are brights, but they're less "yellow" than they were before. See the green swatch on the third row up from the bottom? That swatch would have been more "lime" last year than the spring green I'm seeing here. Also, note the greens on the second row from the top, they're more of a celery tone, a lot less cheery than the ones we've been seeing lately. What I take from this is that we're going to be seeing slightly duller colors so if I want limes and bright oranges and yellows I'm going to buy some now before they disappear.
There is always an overlap on these trends. Designers and manufacturers don't want to freak everyone out by suddenly changing everything, instead they do it in small incremental steps so that most people don't even notice it. All of a sudden they're seeing spring green and it looks "new" to them.
Now, for most of us these color trends don't mean a whole lot in our day-to-day lives. I really don't care that much if my t-shirt is the trendiest, hippest, happening, now color and I doubt most of you care that much either. The great thing about knowing these things if you're a quilter and you're stash building is what colors you need to snatch up before they disappear, and also what colors will be too trendy to be usable long term. For instance, teals are colors that come and go and tend to look dowdy quickly, I generally avoid them. The same goes with browns and beiges, be careful and only buy these fabrics with "true" versions of these colors, preferably ones found in nature. If you do you'll be much happier and will find they have a longer stash life.
As far as prints go, right now I said that we're in a "graphic" phase with a lot of "flat" patterns. We've been through these before, the 1960s was the last best example of these. They can be fun and add some zip to your stash, but they also have the propensity to look dated. Now, patterns like polka dots are always a winner, I'm sure to snap up all colorways of them because they're always in style. Same goes with a well designed calico or 1930s print. Try to stay with true clean colors and you usually won't go wrong.
If you want to know when a color or pattern trend is about to start fading away, I have a one word answer for you , Target! If you see a color or fabric style start to show up in Target that means that it's filtered down from the high end and is being pushed to the masses. This doesn't mean it's going to be outdated right away, Target is usually the first mass retailer to market these trends. However, once you see it there, you can bet that it will be on it's way out within the year. Point in fact, lime green! There's tons of lime green stuff at Target, (which is great because my son just did his room in dark blue and lime green), but as you can see from the chart above, lime green is on it's way out. Us peasants will be enjoying it's fresh appeal for a while longer, but soon enough spring green will be before our eyes and suddenly it will be the next best thing.
I hope this explains how fabric trends come and go. I've been observing it for years and haven't really thought about it as it's one of those things I just pick up on. However, if I see anything happening I'll let you in on it. I'm sure some of you have some observations to share as well.