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The 9 Best Resources for Finding Design Inspiration

designer resources for trend research

Have you ever struggled with finding inspiration for a new collection? Do you not quite have the perfect trend research process nailed down yet? Don’t worry. The beginning of the conceptual phase can look different from person to person. However, through experience and collaboration with other designers, I’ve discovered that there are certain reoccurring places and sites that stand out as the best for pulling inspiration and trend research.

When conducting trend research and trying to find inspiration, I recommend that you search both digitally and physically. By gathering inspiration from both areas, you’re diversifying your perspective, which ups the chances that you’ll uncover new ideas. I’d also try to find a balance between free and paid trend services. Utilizing free resources will help you build your trend-forecasting muscle. Because it’s free the trends will not be spelled out for you. You’ll have to discover the reoccurring patterns yourself. On the flip side, paid trend services will lay out full reports on what’s new and hot for the upcoming seasons. Keep in mind that paid resources are a luxury and can come at high costs.

So without further ado, let me break down the best resources for trend research.

First is a top-rated research resource; WGSN. It’s an online paid subscription that offers a wide range of information and data. The site layout can seem hectic at first glance, but it is simple and easy to navigate once you understand the function. They also offer a variety of filters to search based on year, brand, designer, color, material, clothing category, etc. One of WGSN’s best features is its market intelligence and trend forecasting reports, which include expert advice on color, materials, and textiles. My personal favorite feature is the seasonal books they publish that focus on popular silhouettes, materials, and technical flats for a particular season. A huge perk is that you can download the entire booklet or just an image. WGSN is a pricey service but there’s a reason it's rated the best in the industry.

Fashion Snoops is a very similar service to WGSN. It includes the same search features and visual books with imagery and information on the latest seasonal trends and materials. It is also a great place to get images and inspiration for concepts. This is also a subscription service, so it does require some commitment. Another honorable mention in this space: The Edit Advisory.

Pinterest is the OG of fashion research inspiration and just looking for inspiration in general. You can create your own boards with a collage of images. The result will become more refined as you search keywords and search within those photos. When you first start using Pinterest, the images can be vague. Still, over time the algorithm becomes more specific to the search. This is free, and the website is just as effective as the app!

Instagram is also an excellent source for visual imagery while effortlessly swiping. An effective way to find what you are looking for is to use the search bar and keyword hashtags to refine the search! Another fun way to search is to scroll through your "For You" page and find inspiring imagery. There are some restrictions on downloading images, like if accounts are private, but if they are public, using third-party downloading sites is an effective method for saving images.

Whether you use online catalogs or love the feeling of flipping through pages, magazines can help you gather inspiration on current trends and modern looks. Popular magazines that have always had great images are Vogue US and London. Of course, those are my favorite Vogue catalogs, but I know the other international magazines provide excellent inspo as well! Other magazines that are great for reading and inspo are WWD, People, Women's Health, Allure, InStyle, and Cosmopolitan. Those are some of the most popular, but I also recommend checking out small business online magazines. So whether you love to use the cut-and-paste feature in photoshop or cutting out and gluing pictures to a board, magazines are a timeless resource!

Staying up to date with runway shows is excellent for looking at silhouettes and specific trending design details. This includes looking at necklines, sleeves, bodice details, hems, or pants/skirt construction features on the runway. Styling is also essential, but it can be overdone, so observing designers' use of accessories and layering is fun to comment on. This can be used to help develop focused, cohesive looks.

For anyone with an Adobe Cloud Subscription, a fun feature to check out is the community live, which is fantastic because you can check out what other artists are also doing! So you can be inspired and pull together ideas and exchange socials, possible collaboration opportunities could also occur! Connecting with artists is a fun way to learn about someone else's style and learn about your own too! Make sure to always give shoutouts and credit to the people you got inspiration from because they are working just as hard as you!

Movies and TV shows! This one may be cliche and funny to some, but great ideas can blossom from films! The costume director's wardrobe choices for the characters/film can be a theme. That inspiration can also come from a place, a civilization, or a conflict. Focusing on one character can be an introduction to a greater idea.

Last but not least is the internet! Having such an extensive database can be overwhelming, but all these resources are at your fingertips! Use keywords or phrases and try selecting a couple of similar topics to see the results. Try timing yourself and give 5-10 mins to concentrate on each idea to see if they pan out. If they don't, take time to assess what direction you are going in and decide whether it's time to switch sites or adjust the concept! Make sure you keep notes of what is working out!

I hope this helps you plan out a new strategy for gathering inspiration. Did your fave trend research method make it onto the list? If not, please share your fave in the comments!

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