Haysun Hahn Q&A: The trend forecaster sees fashion world a lot more interested in outdoor

Haysun Hahn, founder of the Fast Forward Group, has worked for several manufacturers, such as Rockport, so she understands how forecasting relates to real-world production and distribution. She founded Fast Forward to serve the creative community, design new methods for dealing with color and inspire fresh aesthetics.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2012 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 2-5. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

This SNEWS Outdoor Retailer Summer Market recap is brought to you by Cordura:


Haysun Hahn, founder of the Fast Forward Group, jumped into fashion industry trend forecasting after becoming fascinated by how people relate to the consumer products in their lives. Hahn has worked for several manufacturers, such as Rockport, so she understands how forecasting relates to real-world production and distribution. She founded Fast Forward to serve the creative community, design new methods for dealing with color and inspire fresh aesthetics.

What do you hope people will get out of your talk?

A new thought about design, color and the consumer. The thought might inspire an idea!

Why did you choose to speak at Outdoor Retailer?

Outdoor exemplifies the shifting lifestyles and values of the modern consumer. It is focused on function and innovation. OR is such a critical view on the most important lifestyle market at the moment — it’s a realistic view on how people live and enjoy their time.

How can outdoor companies distinguish themselves when it comes to apparel?

Each outdoor company needs to decide who their customer is and stick to mastering that profile. It’s an old rule, but a neglected challenge. A brand should know how to seduce new customers and allow others to move on if it is not in the positioning of the brand. There’s also a tendency for outdoor companies to have the same 15 shapes and miss both [25- and 50-year-old] consumers by neutralizing the designs, color, styles and fit. Brands feel they outsmart the consumer, but it often backfires because the consumer equates this strategy as a compromise on the brand’s authenticity.

What are some trends you’re noticing emerging in outdoor apparel and footwear?

The demands of the urban environment are producing a need for a new level of hybrids. In both apparel and footwear, you’ll see more tailored details and crossover styles. The second is the uber-tech sport products that are pure and specific to the sport with lots of iconic detailing and authentic materials. This is a trend towards the value of belonging to a community/club of people with a common interest.

What are some key looks for Spring ‘13?

The key looks for men continue to be more tailored and narrower for tops and bottoms. The most important item is the outershell for all-season use. The accessories should include more details in leather. For women, the interest in dresses, longer tops and leggings continues to transform into crossover items, and the accessory of choice is the constructed, multi-functional tote.

What is the outdoor industry taking from the fashion industry?

From where I sit, the fashion industry is much more interested in the outdoor industry than vice versa. But back to the question: Color is the first thing they take from the fashion side, second is the fabric/material directions with denim leading the way and third is the proportions — big shoes, big bags, small garments, lots of hats.

How do you think outdoor companies can connect better with consumers?

Respect. There are brands that have and maintain a great level of respect for their consumer, but that’s rare. Brands must consider themselves involved in the larger terrain of consumer products, and the outdoor companies have to teach a bit less and listen a lot more — not only to their retailers, but to their customers. The agenda to include them in activity is great, but not enough. It would be inclusive to ask their customers how and why they buy products and cement it into the agenda for the company.

Which companies offer the most innovative designs in the outdoor industry?

We should look for innovative products from Patagonia — turns out there are new ways to improve the basics, and there are lots of great changes being led by Vice President of Global Product Lee Turlington. In the future, no one is better prepared than The North Face to innovate new materials now that they’ve brought [Materials Development Director Mary Ellen] Smith onto their team.

Where does the outdoor industry need more innovation in terms of design?

In products for ‘tweens and women! Especially women … not because they make the decision about buying products, but because they’re so neglected in the creation and distribution of technically oriented products with new innovations — this applies to apparel, footwear, accessories and even equipment.

How has outdoor apparel evolved over the years in your opinion?

I think it has, for the most part, matured in a very smart way. It continues to explore the optional activities that are outdoors, but stay within it’s technical roots. It’s definitely stronger for men, but for women, it hasn’t evolved as well.

--Ana Trujillo

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