Thomas, 30, visual trends researcher, LSN Global
Robin introduced me to Thomas. In a past life, Thomas was being chauffeured to Michael Jackson’s penthouse at the Dorchester to do royalty’s hair. Today, he gets to predict trends up to four years in advance. Magic? More like intensive research.
What’s your job exactly? My title is visual trends researcher. I work for an online publication which specialises in consumer insight and trends. My job is to predict visual trends but also use or find visuals that complement the copy for stories for people to understand. We cover 14 lifestyle sectors like cars, interiors, product design, retail, fashion, beauty, health and wellbeing, sports. We have members who subscribe. These subscribers can be any company that deals with a consumer: a retailer, a branding or advertising agency, a packaging company.
So where do you research? The majority is desk research, on the Internet. We all have a black book of blogs we check. Every morning we have a meeting where we pitch our ideas. I also attend fashion shows, so it’s also about going out and about as well.
You were saying that you work on the image side, but there’s also someone who works more on copy. Do you work in collaboration or separately? If we’re doing a trend piece for the site or a fashion week review, I’ll do the words solely by myself. But if it’s a larger trend piece or a presentation for a client, we’ll work with a writer. We’re there to make sure it’s an appealing piece as well as informative.
What attracted you to trends as opposed to working for a fashion brand? I like the broad application of it. So much about being a designer is about initial research and I’m somebody who’s excited about collecting images and ideas. I like to be informing and sharing ideas with people. It’s exciting to have a small idea and seeing it grow into a full application.
Do you follow up after you’ve done research to see what the client has done? Yes, we get feedback on what’s been used. That’s always a nice thing to hear, that your ideas have been inspiring.
If someone wanted to get your job, what advice would you give them? I would say it’s good to have a level of writing, some sort of design background, as well as an interest in consumer insight.
What did you study? I studied menswear design at the University of Brighton, where I did a BA and an MDes. I actually interned at my current company when I was studying, and after doing some freelancing for them they offered me the job the day I graduated. I’ve also interned for a menswear brand called Unconditional, I worked on their global distribution.
Did you ever have a mentor? Robin was a bit of a mentor, he was quite good at giving me photography lingo and helping me commission photographers. I still now email him when I’m not entirely sure what a photographer has asked me.
What did you want to be when you were a kid? I changed my mind frequently, but I wanted to be in fashion, definitely. I was obsessed with dressing up and making clothes.
Do you know what you want to do later? I am quite entrepreneurial and I would like to have my own company one day. If you’re working for someone else, you’re feathering someone else’s nest. If you want to have full control of your own ideas, it’s best to work for yourself. It’s a luxury to be your own boss.
What was your first ever job? When I was 15, I was desperate for a job. I started working at a hairdresser’s in the nearest town on Saturdays, and I found that the more I talked, the more tips I earned. What I learned there was effective communication, and being personable. After I finished my GCSEs, I went to college to study hairdressing. I then moved to London and became one of Charles Worthington’s assistants. I used to do TV makeovers, really cheesy stuff but fun. And I used to do London Fashion Week for Erdem, House of Holland. In doing that I realised I wanted to work more in fashion.
Is there someone in particular whose career you admire? My father’s career. He was an architect, and when he was 45 he decided he had enough of it and joined the police force. He now has a really great career as a detective. He just wanted a new challenge! I admire the fact that he was brave enough to change.
What is your work schedule? Technically it’s 9 to 5.30, but I always work slightly over. If we have events in the evening, I’ll attend those, but I’m always happy to. When fashion week comes around, I go to shows in the weekend, but because it’s an interesting moment, it doesn’t feel like work.
Do you have a secret pick-me-up thing that you do? I will put like a really camp song on my headphones. And I’ve been known to dance around the office! If someone receives a funny piece of clothing in the office I feel a need to put it on and perform in it.
Who should I speak to next? My boyfriend Christopher, who has a cake company.