How do art and design libraries collect the history of the future? Trend forecasting literature presents exactly that challenge. These multifaceted print and digital publications, issued regularly and expensively by a handful of companies, are held by few libraries even as they influence everything from womenswear to computer games. We examine how libraries collect these materials and consider their role in the broader information landscape.
First, we historically situate forecasting, looking to origins in colour charts, trade catalogues and international communications. Next, we look at the post-war institutionalization of trend forecasting, describing its role in the consolidation of a consumer-oriented supply chain.
With the Fashion Institute of Technology as the case study, we then examine forecasting in context: how faculty incorporate it into pedagogy, how students engage with the materials and how librarians integrate critical thinking and information literacy into instruction. Practical matters such as cost, housing, long-term archiving and access are also addressed.
We conclude with a forecast of forecasting, examining its move to digital formats and the challenge of meeting pedagogical needs that are at once rigorous (as accreditation demands) and creative (as schools promise), reflecting the mash-up wonder of today's fashion discourse.