Emerging Trends in Designs, Fashion & Utility Market For Commercial Crafts in the EU

1.0 What is a trend?
A trend defines or tries to predict how we will live and act in the short-term and long-term future - How will we be thinking? How will we be working? How will our transportation systems look like? How will we be communicating? How will we spend our leisure time?
What kind of products or services will we be spending our money on?

2.0 Emerging Trends In Designs, Fashion And Utility
The following are a selection of mid-term and long-term trends which offer opportunities for small and medium sized enterprises in emerging countries….

2.1 GreenDesign…EcoDesign:
Design that does not have a negative impact on the environment. This goes beyond the natural product trend and focuses on the following:
• It focuses on the use of sustainable resources in production
• Recycling
• Safe production processes and production inputs that do not harm the people making the product or those using it that allow for an environmentally safe disposal of products at the end of their life

2.2 Social Design…. Design for Development
• This is a Design that has a positive impact on people and societies.
• Social Accountability.

2.3 Authenticity
• Products that have an authentic identity
• Products that utilize indigenous raw materials and skills/production method
• Products that incorporate cultural significance
• Products that have a story to tell!!

3.0 Trends For Commercial Crafts In The European Union
The EU is not a homogeneous market. There are now 27 separate member states, and although there may be similarities between some states, the differences in some cases will outweigh the similarities. For this reason, it is important in the first instance to focus on a few or on a cluster of countries. Within EU countries there are important differences to appreciate, For example, The north of Italy is very different from the south, In Germany there are still differences between the West and the East, The climate is very different in the North of the EU to the South, There can be large differences between rural and urban areas within one EU country, especially in Eastern EU countries. These differences have an important impact on the design trends and products that will be sold.

4.0 Interpreting Trends

4.1 Understand the trends
The taste and preferences of consumers strongly relate to their lifestyles and trends. In the fashion industry, trends strongly influence product designs. So before designing and introducing your products to the market, try to be aware of the latest trends in your target market.

4.2 Translating Trends into Opportunities

Please take note of the following when analyzing trends:
•In order to understand the trends, i.e. where they come from and how long they will last, try to recognize the underlying demographic changes and consumer lifestyles.
•Try to identify a trend that may be suitable for your product, for example the increase in single households.
•You should be aware that not everybody follows trends. For every trend, there is a counter trend that presents untapped growth opportunities as well as potential threats. For example, while there is a rapid increase in the number of people who are influenced by the wider fashion industry when buying footwear, there is another growing group of consumers who prefer quality and comfortable footwear, which they can use for a long time.
• It is important to know the trends that already are seen in Western and Northern EU States. The new member states lag behind the others in terms of the adoption of new innovations. However, their integration into the EU has meant that this process will be speeded up.

5.0  Conclusion
Although the two main factors that prompt consumers to purchase handicraft items are the originality of the products as well as for pleasure, It is very important for crafts businesses, exporters selling to international customers, manufacturers and designers to look for new inspiration or an understanding of ever- changing ‘trends’ in the markets through trend shows at trade fairs, numerous trend magazines and on the internet. Many design themes in the EU appeal to a growing desire for comfort, style, self-expression and more variations on the current designs, whereas other themes illustrate a growing interest in natural (recycled) material.

The following trends are influencing what EU customers are looking for in Handicrafts:
•The importance of the exact colour - The colours of fashion items generally change twice a year.
•Quality demands - Exporters who can supply on a regular basis with a constant quality.
•Traceability - The entire product must be capable of being traced back through the supply chain. This entails detailed record keeping and strict control procedures for the various production processes involved.
•Reliability - The EU market is characterised by high logistical demands. Lead times are becoming shorter and shorter and delivery reliability is paramount. Suppliers’ flexibility should be high and the response times (time between request for quote and purchase order) must be minimal and controlled. Consequently being able to supply at the agreed time and date is very important. Conformity to the quality standard must be continuous. In practice, this will often mean investing in new equipment and in the education and training of personnel.
•Competitive prices - Competitive prices are expected from retailers or distributors when buying from a developing country. While price is very important, it is equally important that you should not be perceived purely as a source of a low cost product. Do not trade at a loss or with very low margins in order to be competitive.
•Professional communication - EU customers expect that Developing Countries exporters possess good communication skills. Therefore, you should be open and clear in presentations, keep appointments, respond quickly to questions and deal with questions and problems adequately.

5.1 Useful Design and Trend Blogs for the Commercial Crafts Sector

Below are some useful blogs on design trends to follow to stay on top of design news, keep up on design trends, or just enjoy what other designers are doing:

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