Q&A with Jeanine Pesce: Writer, Stylist, and Trend Forecaster

Jeanine Pesce is a trend forecaster, stylist, and writer who has consulted for brands such as Nike, Patagonia, Adidas, and Quiksilver. She has been a writer since we went to high school together and has since become one of the world’s foremost experts in trend forecasting for activewear. She lives between New York, LA, and San Francisco and took time from her schedule to fill us in on how trend forecasting works, her favorite spots in NYC/LA/SF, and what services she offers through her business, Range.

JD: Please tell us about what influenced you to study fashion in college and how you got started in Trend Forecasting?

Jeanine: I originally thought I was going to go to school for journalism after being editor of my high school newspaper and receiving a journalism award, but I always loved fashion and even won best dressed in high school even though I went to a catholic school where we all wore the same thing! Somehow I managed to stand out from the crowd.

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One of my friends was going to school for fashion and she inspired me to try it as well. I applied and was accepted to the Fashion Design school at Drexel University which was really challenging because I didn’t have an art background and hadn’t taken any classes like color theory or illustration. After I graduated, I worked as a designer but found that it wasn’t for me. Then the same friend who inspired me to go to school for fashion, Andrea Praet, who is a colleague of mine to this day, was working for a trend forecasting company and said, “You should come interview. There’s an opportunity here.”

I interviewed and got the job at Promostyl. She and I became the trend forecasting consultant team for all of America. It was very risky on Promostyl’s part because we were super young. In trend forecasting, years of research and age make you good at the job because you need to watch cycles and seasons roll over. At the time (approx 2005), I was also really involved in the skateboarding community. We had a lot of clients from Nike and Reebok and action sports clients like Quiksilver, but we didn’t have anyone on the team that knew how to talk to them because everyone was used to working with fashion brands.  

I volunteered to work on these accounts and said, “I know a lot about sneakers and I know a lot about bikes, streetwear and skateboarding and I understand design because I’ve gone to school for it.” So by default, I became the active trend person on our team. Any time an active client would come in, they became my client. That’s actually what started my career and it was totally a random event.

12 years later I’m still dong active trends and I am one of the few people in the world that does trend forecasting specifically for the active and outdoor market. I went on to work for a few other companies that reported on trends. Eventually I got to bring my journalism background back into the equation and was able to write, almost from an editorial perspective, about trends. I did that for almost a decade with two different agencies and then started my company, Range, three years ago.

JD: What services does Range offer?

Jeanine: Range is trend forecasting and creative services on the back end (e.g. event production, influencer partnerships, photo shoot production) and on the front end we are an editorial platform. We publish a bi-annual newsprint, which is an extension of what we’re seeing in terms of trends in the market.

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JD: As a trend forecaster, stylist and writer, where do you go to learn about the latest and to forecast trends?

Jeanine: When I started doing this, the company I worked for, Promostyl, was a very old French company. Everything was done in book format. For inspiration, we went and researched and found magazines and tore out pages and posted them on a board. We looked at them and we thought about them for an extended period of time and rearranged them and then we went to the trim stores and we bought trims and we bought fabric and we had all these tactile things. At Promostyl, they were the first people to ever make “Trend books” in the 70s. They were very tortured artists about it. The woman who would forecast the colors, she would stand up in the front and present the color and she would pull on her hair, and tug at her shirt.  It was a very visceral, emotional experience for her to talk about color. Now, we can download color palettes anywhere and we can find images on Instagram that are aggregated by Color Story. So to answer your question about where I get inspiration, in an ideal world, I’m out on the street, getting inspiration from museums and shopping and exhibits, but in the reality of the world, I am sitting behind my computer because I have so many clients and so many deadlines. The way to find inspiration has totally, totally changed because of the shift to digital and mobile. That’s actually why I like what you’re doing with your real estate blog because you’re taking a step back from it and trying to shine a light again on culture and on the people behind the scenes. This is a trend in itself.  

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JD: Thank you! There are so many stories that make up our city and I do like shining a light on them. How do you forecast something such as which colors are going be trending in two years?

Jeanine: That’s not as complicated as you would think. It’s not so much about prediction as it is about analyzing. You can watch colors roll over every season; they change a little bit. Blue evolves a little bit; maybe it’s a little bit more grey, maybe it’s a little bit more yellow. These colors work in cycles.

Hot pink was trending and neons were trending. So what’s the difference between that look for fall and for summer? Maybe for fall you’re seeing neon anchored with a monochromatic color like black or grey. Then for summer it could be paired with white and yellow or pastel. They’re still around, they’re just slowly shifting.

The automotive industry is really the indicator for color. Then it starts to trickle down into accessories, ready-to-wear, fitness, all those different categories.

So, knowing what colors will be trending in two years is about keeping an eye on the way colors are subtly shifting as well as really watching what’s happening on the high, conceptual levels of art and industrial design and then watch how that effects mainstream consumerism.

JD: What are some of the trends that you are seeing now?

Jeanine: It depends on the industry. There are trends for automotive and trends for technology and trends for apparel, they’re all very specific. Things that are important though right now are obviously sustainable practices and materials. That trend is the trend that I will hold onto forever and hope it never goes away. American-made manufacturing is also really important.

Those are the big picture trends that I pay attention to. Those are the ones that make a difference and matter globally right now: the environment, sustainability, consumption. Those, I think, are really, really important.

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JD: When you recommend to brands such as Nike, that they follow the sustainability/ Made in the USA trends, how do they receive that?

Jeanine: Nike is a huge supporter of sustainable materials. They’ve actually been making a lot of progress in repairing the supply chain from the inside out.

The bigger companies have the most power when it comes to affecting change, especially when it comes to manufacturing and sustainable materials because they have the most purchasing power. So you look at a brand like Patagonia that’s completely transparent, that is so obsessed with sustainability and production and manufacturing and the factories they’re using and the way they’re sourcing renewable or recyclable materials, that they are changing the course.

When I started doing this in 2005 or so, I was talking about sustainability as a trend and everyone was like, “Green? What do you mean, “Go green?” That’s never going to happen! No one’s going to do that.” Now we’ve come so far from that point that it shouldn’t even be considered  “a trend” anymore, it’s just a part of reality. It has to happen; we have to have better practices when it comes to making apparel and recycling apparel and reusing it. There need to be more options.

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JD: As someone whose speciality revolves around outerwear, how important is it for you to get out into nature on a regular basis?

Jeanine: It’s very important. I am outdoors as much as I possibly can be. I love it; it’s healing to be in nature, it’s healing being outside and I get a lot of inspiration there because it’s the only quiet place I can get to these days, to have moments for new ideas and to recharge. Also, you have to live the life when working in this industry; you can’t be a faker when it comes to this stuff because people will know. If you’re not authentic and you’re not part of the tribe, they can sniff you out from a mile away. They’re going to be like, “Oh, here’s this fashion person trying to talk to us about outdoor,” and that’s not going to work. I work with clients that range from everyday outdoor brands to brands that make apparel for the harshest conditions on the earth, places like Everest and Denali, where you can’t take chances with weather. So I need to have an understanding of how these fabrics and materials work, and in order for me to do that, I need to be out in the field and have a working knowledge of the different attributes.

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JD: What are some sources of inspiration you’ve had?

Jeanine: London Design Week and art fairs like Frieze inspire me.  I like looking at furniture as inspiration, and the runway of course. I think you definitely need to look at what’s going on in those markets to really wrap your head around what’s coming in the pipeline.

JD: What is your favorite restaurant/local natural getaway/street/neighborhood/building in NYC/LA/SF?

Jeanine:

Best Restaurant: NY my favorite is M Shanghai for dumplings in Williamsburg; LA hands down would be Night Market + Song in Silver Lake; SF would be Plow for brunch.

Best Local Natural Getaway – NY would be the Jersey Shore, LA is Joshua Tree, San Francisco would be Pt. Reyes.

Best Street – NY is be a tie between St. Johns Place in Park Slope (best brownstones) and Crosby Street in Soho; LA would be Sunset Boulevard because it stretches from the East side all the way to the beach; San Francisco would be Folsom Street because I love all the industrial buildings.

Best neighborhood – NY I am a Park Slope girl at heart, that is where I am originally from. LA would be Los Feliz because it is super walkable and so close to Griffith Park. SF would be the Dogpatch, great restaurants and the best bouldering gym.

Best building – NY, I love the Puck Building in Soho because it is so old-school NYC. In LA, any and all Neutra Houses also the Frank Lloyd Wright Holly Hock House in Barnsdall Art Park. In, SF City Hall! I got married there before our reception, the rotunda is next level beautiful.

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JD: What is your favorite part of the work that you do?

Jeanine: Connecting. I’m a creative connector. Whether it’s connecting trends or connecting people, I love to see everyone be successful. Sometimes I will think, “Oh, this person and that person would be great together,” or, “I know this brand is looking for a creative director. Who do I know that fits the bill?” I’m always trying to connect the dots for people. My inbox is like the Grand Central Station of people looking for stuff. I do it because I genuinely like to see people create lasting relationships with each other and connecting is something that I feel really passionate about.

JD: What are some of the most stylish cities that you’ve been to?

Jeanine: I think by far the most stylish city in the world is Copenhagen followed by Tokyo and London.  Copenhagen, Tokyo, London, New York and Berlin are my top five.

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JD: Do you have a dream project?

Jeanine: My dream project is what I’m doing right now. I’m building a small brand, I’m connecting people that I love and respect. I’m working in an industry that I think is incredible. I have great clients and I get to travel around the world so I feel really lucky to have that opportunity. Luck isn’t the right word; it’s a lot of hard work but I feel grateful for some of the decisions I’ve made and the past somehow led me back to this point.

JD: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Jeanine: I would love to have my business to a point where I’m a little bit more free. I’ve been working really hard for a long time so I’d love to have more of that time outdoors that I desperately need and crave. I think I’ll be in L.A. at the beach or in the mountains. I see myself sitting under a tree on a swing , that would be a great place for me.

JD: Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule, Jeanine.

Check out Jeanine’s website, Range, & her personal website here.

Follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.  

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