Possessing passion like fire, Nicola Cooper enlightens us

Fiery trend analyst from Flux Trends and frequent front row persona, Nicola Cooper, was a fashionable sight for sore eyes as I came to meet her at the Waterfront. We’ve organised an interview during SA Menswear week, which the Joburg native was down for, amongst other research-related reasons. The tall, though be it from her sky-high heels, and slender red-head walks with conviction as we stroll around looking for a suitable cafe to do the interview.

(Pic credit - Phillip Santos)
(Pic credit – Phillip Santos)

Once settled, I ordered my americano but Nicola opted for a lemonade as she was “buzzing from the coffee already”. Grateful for the opportunity to sit down and chat with her, I said thank you but she in turn thanked me and admitted to rarely being on the receiving end of an interview. Though, I soon came to disagree with this statement as Nicola answered and opined flawlessly.

She started by telling me her exact title is senior trend analyst, and proceeded to lovingly describe what her job entails. “Firstly,” she said, “it’s important to know the difference between a trend spotter, trend analyst and trend forecaster.” A spotter tends to be purely observational, they pick up and point out what is trending at the moment, and is also a title easily adopted. A trend forecaster, somewhat self-explanatory, looks to the future and predicts what will be trending. A trend analyst on the other hand, which is what Nicola identifies as, dissects, explores, researches and acknowledges current and future trends. It is all done in a scientific way and almost seems mathematically calculated.

(Pic credit - Phillip Santos)
(Pic credit – Phillip Santos)

At this point Nicola reflected and reminisced about her childhood, seeing that what she wanted to be compared to what she is now is such a contrast. At the tender age of 8, she decided to become “a Nose”, which is someone who makes perfume. “For good practice I would collect flowers, crush them and mix it in some liquid and present it to my mother who would hesitantly apply some to her neck,” she explains. Still smiling, she recalls a time with her father when they would head outside at night to spot and track the constellations. Oblivious to this influence at that age, Nicola is now able to see how even then her fate was set in the stars. “I now realise that as a trend analyst you must have a nose for trends and be able to track them.”

Getting down to basics, what her work often involves is assisting businesses to stay relevant; she is considered the number one person who understands local enough to put global trends into a local context. Education is important to her because the job involves such a great deal of research that goes into helping these businesses and the industry as a whole. “Going beyond trend spotting, an analyst applies theories and finds evidence to substantiate an initial gut feeling”. She emphasised that “You can’t drop a trend too late or too early. You have to drop it at the right time.”

(Pic credit - Phillip Santos)
(Pic credit – Phillip Santos)

Talking about the right timing, two months into 2015, Nicola listed the following as stand-out trends for the rest of the year. “There will be a culture clash that will involve mixing prints. The return of space ageism, originally an 1960s movement because of the moon landing, is back and now influenced by the likes of the Virgin trip to mars. Modern Renaissance brings something soft and pretty with a hint of the 70s while ancient ethereal offers a sexy but subtle covered-up look. For men, street gothic is having a huge moment, with the likes of Kanye West and Issey Miyake as major influences”.

An hour seemed like a few minutes as we wrapped up the interview, a flurry of topics had been discussed but what stuck with me the most was Nicola’s love for the South African fashion industry, which she believes is on par with the rest of the world, and the passion with which she speaks when talking about her job.

*Follow Nicola on Twitter

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