Data Visualization in Fashion – Changing the Industry

Recently, I discovered this AMAZING website that forecasts which colors are trending in the most fashion forward countries like Paris, Milan, and Antwerp.

Antwerp is a city in Belgium if you’re like me and had no clue.

Below, I posted the video from Vimeo of how Pimkie Color Forecast works. 


 


 

Ideally, their website pimkiecolorforecast.com would work. However, this is not a perfect world and despite my many efforts to load the page, I continually receive a blank page. Maybe you guys will have better luck than me.



 

This is just one example of how fashion has begun to utilize data visualization to consumer’s advantage. This is incredibly more high-tech than the other forms of data visualization used in the fashion industry, for they are using visual data from cameras in cities to predict what color is trending. Thus, taking visual data very literally.

In journalism, however, visual data more commonly refers to a visual representation of some form of data to represent the impact of something. Two of the many examples of this are  interactive maps/images and geographic maps with shading and a key.

In April of 2015, The New York Times published article “Fashion is Trending, in Google Searches” and used visual data to represent the impact of fashion trends throughout the United States. The article discusses an analysis of six billion Google searches on clothing styles changing state-to-state throughout the years.

In order to portray the message of an increase or a decrease in a trend, the article simply states the style and shows pictures to portray it. Beneath it are the resulting maps that were created based on analysis of Google searches.

The following examples below were taken from the article. The peplum dress grid shows what style was being discussed and the map of searches from 2013 to 2015 display how the style has been on the decline. This is because the map shows that the lighter colors mean less searches and darker shades represent more searches.

peplum-dress-gridScreen Shot 2016-02-12 at 6.45.24 PM

To display a style that has started to become a trend, the article used the “jogger pant/jean” style with a map containing increasingly dark colors from 2014 to 2015. This effectively shows how a certain trend is starting to grow.

jogger-pants-gridScreen Shot 2016-02-12 at 6.47.59 PM



 

This method was used for multiple clothing styles and proceeded to discuss why the trend might be garnering search attention or why people in the US have begun to move away from certain trends.

For the purposes of this article, I think the use of maps successfully displayed the transition towards certain trends and away from others. Instead of simply stating the trends and explaining them, the reader can see how the evolution occurred themselves. It is also easier for the journalist because they don’t have to find the exact words to describe the trend and potentially fall-short because they don’t have the proper words to do so. This is very different from traditional journalism in the sense that if offers more pictures than words. Much like how a picture book is distinctly different than a written novel.

With that said, I think for the fashion industry in this case, it is very successful because it allows for the read to achieve a greater understanding for the subject at-hand with a broad industry.

However, this shouldn’t be used for every story. As described in Simon Rodger’s article in The Guardian, certain incidences like showing a disease outbreak centralized in one area like SoHo might prove to be misleading because a picture cannot provide the full context.

In the end, situations where using words to paint a picture for the reader is potentially more detrimental and confusing than helpful, this is an effective method. The most ideal use of this would be a mixture of words to provide proper context and story, and the images simply used to support the argument.

The article I read very successfully used the data visualizations and a substantial amount of words weren’t entirely necessary, but for topics other than fashion, more words used concurrently with the images would prove to be the most successful.


 

With all of that said, I think I’ll go look into buying a pair of jogger pants!

 

 

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