From art history to haircare and music, Rita Nakouzi is New York’s star trend expert, absorbing culture and style. For the world’s leading fashion, design and beauty brands, including L’Oréal, she plans marketing strategies and thematic campaigns. Here, Rita explains her trade secrets to FAB.
FAB: How did you become a trend forecaster? What does your job consist of on a daily basis? How do you stay up to date?
Rita Nakouzi: I started in the art world and then transitioned into forecasting. The skills I gained studying art history and working in a contemporary art gallery fit into the intellectual process of forecasting. Forecasting is about the hunt for what’s out there but it’s more complicated than simply what’s new. It’s about both what’s new and also what’s relevant and what’s going to resonate with the zeitgeist.
I’m a strategist and a concept director. I work with brands on their strategies, develop concepts and work with photographers and creative teams on bringing a vision to life. Luxury and digital are key sectors for me. I’ve worked for many years with the beauty industry, especially relating to digital strategy, product development and color.
On a daily basis I read a lot. I begin the day with the New York Times, The Business of Fashion and The Economist, then go check out some blogs, Instagram and Twitter. I visit trade shows, galleries and stores depending on what projects I’m working on. I also learn a lot from friends and people I meet who are doing cool interesting things.
FAB: How do you build a moodboard/trend report?
R.N.: Instinct is the first approach to my moodboards. I scour all that’s available to me from exhibits, shows, movies, music – I’m very inspired by design. Sometimes it’s just a word that captivates my imagination and from there I build my moodboard. At the moment, “good vibes”, “positivity” and “lightness” are all words that resonate with me. What’s happening around the world feels so heavy that we need some lightness and positivity.
FAB: What are the major trends we are seeing today in the beauty industry? With the focus on newness, how do you keep things fresh and relevant?
R.N.: I think the organic and natural trend is a big one that’s continuing. We are also seeing a widespread desire for a condensed routine.
As far as newness, I love the glitter and sparkle coming through – from diamond dust shampoo to glitter and iridescence, flecks of sparkle in the hair and on the face. I love the shimmering 3D tones on the face too.
I love the short hair bob we’ve been seeing crop up on the runway. And, the return of color in hair. For me, red is a must haircolor at the moment. I also love the bouncy curls we’re seeing and the return of the mullet.
FAB: How has digital media changed the industry, and your role?
R.N.: The biggest change I’d say comes from technology and how we process information. Also, the rise of social media influencers and brands who have really built a following through social media communities. When I started in forecasting the internet was still nascent. The role of the forecaster was a bit different. You really were sharing concepts and ideas that others may not have heard about or seen at all. Now, the web allows you to go down the rabbit hole for any topic that interests you. So being a forecaster has evolved. Now I see it as more about understanding the trends and how to filter them to a category and to a specific client. While people may have more access to trends, they don’t necessarily know what trend fits them. It’s not enough to know the trends, it’s about knowing what’s right for you. The other big change is data. There are so many brands that are heavily data-driven today and it proves effective in certain ways. But, when it comes to being innovative and trends, it’s good to step away from the data and collect different insights.
FAB: In a data-focused world, why is intuition essential to your role and to understanding beauty consumers?
R.N.: Data just really doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s integral and you glean a lot from it, but it’s also important to observe your clients, your brand trajectory and to notice conversations and trends out of the silo that you’re working out so you can be forwarding thinking and to create innovation. For brands who are seeking to be trendsetters, you have to look beyond data to anticipate what your clients want before they even know they want it. And that comes from observing shifts and anticipating what’s to come.
FAB: Beyond their differences, what is the secret to every beauty brands’ success?
R.N.: Authenticity and community. Knowing how to nurture your community today is key, and beauty brands that are successful are ones that know how to be part of the dialogue with their community and help foster community. Authenticity is also essential. The marketplace, especially for beauty, is flooded. To really stand out you have to have an incredible formula, an authentic story to tell and a true sense of your mission. The path to success is clear when you are able to articulate clearly your purpose.